It was a while before we got on the road, not least because the office didn’t open until 9:30am. So it was 10am before we pulled out; still an early hour for us though 🙂 We had an easy cruise back out to SH10 and on to Kerikeri by 11am. There was a bit of rain along the way – it’s that sort of weather. We made a beeline for the dump station to get rid of our grey waste. There was a tap there presumably connected to the town supply so we decided to fill up while we could. We still had some of the water from Tauranga Bay of dubious quality so we drained this for a start. By the time we gave way to another (Traillite) motorhome it was noon before we were done. We found a big empty carpark by the RSA and took the car off and went round to the BP to fill up Suzi. I made the mistake of using the truck lane which had a high volume nozzle on the diesel which was almost impossible to get running. That was another hour up the spout. Then we took the A-frame off the car and took the car to refuel and do the other stuff. We posted stuff at the Post Office after 1pm which was delivered in Dunedin next morning. We spent a while at the Kerikeri New World, the best supermarket we’ve seen in the north; in fact in the North Island. They are the only one with my Sanitarium Bran Bix breakfast cereal that we’ve found anywhere up north. Wyn had been looking for LSA in the Kaitaia Pak N Save and they had no idea what she was asking about. The Kerikeri New World had two different brands of LSA. We had a late lunch back at Suzi as we stowed away all the groceries and caught up on a few things on the internet – it was great to have a full-speed connection for a change; it’d been a while since we’d had any connection at all.
It was 4.15pm by the time we headed off again with the car in tow. We were heading for Wairere Boulders near the Hokianga Harbour. How to get there was a bit of toss-up. We’d wondered about heading directly west past the airport, but Nev the Nav favoured going south first. We decided to play it safe and go with Nev – until we approached the roundabout leaving Kerikeri and I spotted the name of a town on SH1 we needed to go through showing on the sign for the exit to the airport. So we/I made a split-second route change that worked out well – luckily. It knocked about 15kms off the trip. Nev started saying the 50km trip was going to take almost 2 hours – we wondered what he knew that we didn’t. As we zoomed along at about 80 kmph the kms were rapidly dropping but Nev’s estimate of arrival time dropped only slowly. Nev’s definitely male – very slow to admit any mistakes J After our westerly shortcut (sealed and good) we met SH1 and headed NW on that for a few kms. Then we branched off to the top end of the Hokianga Harbour aiming for Horeke. The road was sealed all the way to Horeke but got narrower as we got further on. Horeke is a settlement on the Hokianga; very original and very historic. The hotel there is claimed as the oldest original hotel in New Zealand and presumably is; the Hokianga has some of the oldest settlements in the country – Kupe was supposed to have started it all in about 950AD and that’s about as old as it gets.
From Horeke and the Hokianga Harbour we headed south on the unsealed road that would eventually lead to SH12 and Opononi. But for now, it was only a couple of kms to Wairere Valley and a side road up there to the end in another km or so. This is where the Wairere Boulders are found. These are on a farm in the bush; a jumble of house-size basalt boulders with strange patterns on them. The patterns are flutings, eroded by acid from the Kauri forests that once covered them. The size of the boulders reminds me of a Fiordland Valley and the flutings remind me of the limestone rocks on the hill over to Takaka. Apparently such flutings in basalt are not found anywhere else. The farm is owned by a Swiss couple Felix and Rita who rediscovered the boulders and decided to open their place as a tourist attraction. We met Rita working on their driveway. Visitors are allowed to park campervans overnight in their carpark so that was our plan; to overnight and do the walk in the morning. Rita gave us the background and some guidance on what to see on the walk. It had only taken us 53 minutes from Kerikeri in the end, but it was like we were a long long way from anywhere. By this stage it was getting dark, so we set about setting up. Getting level in their carpark was a bit of a mission, but we managed near enough. It was a lovely calm evening, and quiet apart from the birds – mostly Pukeko.