There was lots of rain in the night but Sunday started out OK, overcast and muggy – it was 16 degrees at 7am. We had searched again on our way back the previous day for the road to the walk to the lighthouse, without success. Finally we had asked at the shop at Tutukaka. It turns out the road has now been marked as private – even though it gives access to a scenic reserve. The woman in the shop was adamant that parking at the end of the road was not advisable – bandits are at work in the area breaking into cars. There is a track from the marina and she advised this was the best option. So on Sunday morning we got packed up, and towed the car over to Tutukaka and parked at the marina. We set out from there, and took the (unmarked) track up to the private/public road, and along that to the end. There is a DOC sign here announcing that this is the Tutukaka Recreation Reserve – surely their best-kept secret yet? There is also a hand-painted sign warning of the car breakins. It wasn’t far down to the point where Kukutauwhao Island connects with the mainland. The guide says that high tide can delay crossing at this point – it would certainly be interesting. It is only a short crossing but there are several points where there would be waves from both sides. The track up from there is a bit slippery when it is wet – as it was. The day was windy with showers, not cold but a bit unpleasant. The sea was not as calm as the previous day. It wasn’t far up to the top and the lighthouse. With the wind and the showers of rain and the swells crashing on the rocks it seemed suitably wild even if most of the view inland was of houses on most viewpoints. As lighthouses go this was a modest one – it didn’t seem much taller than me. We retraced our steps to the marina car park – all up from there it took us under two hours and is an interesting walk.
We had a cup of coffee and a bit to eat before hitting the road again. It is an interesting road from there, north through the bays we’d visited the day before, and then inland from a wilder Sandy Bay to Hikurangi and SH1. Then on up SH1 – occasionally in showers of rain and windy. We stopped for a late lunch in Kawakawa – using the hotel car park which was empty and flat. There was a steam train puffing up and down the main street towing a couple of carriages – that was cute. We had a think about our options for staying in the Bay of Islands for the next week and a bit while my two sons are visiting. We’d initially thought about Paihia but changed our minds and decided Kerikeri would be a better option. So we headed on to Kerikeri and checked into the Kerikeri Top 10 Holiday Park. Once we’d sorted ourselves out we took Suzi to visit their dump station and then to visit the BP service station. Then finally we could get ourselves settled in and sorted out – although we’re not sure things are quite level.
There is a feeling of familararity about Kerikeri now – we were surprised to work out that this is our 4th visit. Two of those were fleeting ones – passing through. Nevertheless we know our way around now. We’re looking forward to showing Michael and Andrew the sights – some we’ve already seen and new ones to discover.