Opua Bay of Islands

From Opua to Whangarei – 3 weeks full with hiking and mountain biking

With the mountain bike through Northland

Back in Tonga we won a voucher for a free week in the Opua marina. We profit to leave our She San there and pack our bikes to explore a bit of Northland.

Opua Bay of Islands
The bay of Opua is full with moorings
Opua mountain bike track
On the mountain bike track there are regular “obstacles” and we have to get off our bikes and pass them

Directly behind the Marina a 87 km mountain bike trail starts on a old train track, very well done. Only the frequent gates are a bit disturbing, as mostly we have to get down and walk/carry the bike past the gate.

Kawakawa Hunderwasser toilets
First touristic highlight are the Hunderwasser toilets in Kawakawa, we learn that it really was Hunderwasser who build them while he was spending the last part of his live here in the region.
A Pukeko, as well find out thanks to the internet 😉
and funny enough everywhere there are green meadows full with cows or sheep…
…but also huge plamtrees grow without any problem…

Our first stop in Kawakawa brings us to visit the Hunderwasser toilets, the famous Austrians last piece of work.

While we have a lunch break in Kaikohe we accidentally find out that the mountain bike trail ends on the Hokianga harbour without a possibility to cross over to the other side.

So we change our plans and go to Rawene instead, mainly on pretty busy highways though.

Hokianga ferry Rawene Kohukohu
In Rawene we take the Hokianga car ferry to Kohukohu
Night sky lodge Kohukohu
Happy to find a cosy place with a hot shower and comfortable bed, but also a great view at the Night Sky Lodge
In the pub there is a Halloween Party for the kids and we join in, grateful for a beer and some fish and chips
and doesn´t she look frightening?

From there we take the car ferry to Kohukohu.

In Kohukohu we realize that it is 6 pm, the choice of places to stay is not huge and that after 94 km and some slopes we are pretty tired. Therefore we check in the Night Sky lodge which is rather expensive for us, but beautiful and the owners are extremely nice.

Because the pub doesn’t answer the phone she drives by car to check with them and finds out that there is a Halloween party going on. She makes sure that we will get some food nevertheless, and soon later we sit in the Halloween crowd enjoying our beer and fish and chips.

and I cannot stop to admire the green meadows full with cows and blossoms on the trees
and I didn*t know that these two are turkeys !
and again and again the huge wood trucks pass by and leave us in a cloud of dust—
Ngawha hot springs
The Ngawha hot springs have many different healthy pools but we prefer the ones without the mud…
Ngawha hot springs
and we prefer the ones from 39 to maximum 41 degrees Celsius.
Kauri tree Opua Kauri walk
The large Kauri tree at the end of the Opua Kauri Walk

With an eye on the weather forecast we decide not to go too far north and head back to Kaikohe via several highways and the second part of the mountain bike track.

There we enjoy the Ngawha hot springs and head back to Opua via more highways and gravel roads.

After roughly 230 km and 2300 meters in height we arrive back in Opua after 3 days and look forward not to sit in the saddle for the next few days.

The forecasted bad weather turns out to be ok, so we spend two more days for checking out the hiking trail to and shopping possibilities in Paihia and then move to the anchorage behind Russell.

Historical Russel

Russell Yacht Club
The Russell Yacht Club has an excellent dinghy dock
Russell Yacht Club
and on Sunday evening everybody can contribute to the Live Music evening
Russell Duke of Marlborough
Russell is worth a walk and has some well maintained historical buildings, here the Duke of Marlborough Hotel
on the way to the mountain bike park, in the background the Kerikeri inlet
Haruru falls
The Haruru water falls close to Paihia

We like it there, the dinghy dock at the Russel Yacht Club is excellent and it is only a few hundred meters into town

With the passenger ferry over to Paihia we do another trip with the bikes.

First we check out the mountain bike park and do some up and downhill rides, then we would like to go on to Kerikeri to do some “tourist stuff”.

The maps me tells us it is only 13 km, but we find ourselves in the middle of signs that we are not allowed to go even by bike, so finally we give up.

We got to the Haruru falls instead and want to take the hiking track back down, but also this is not welcome, so we end up on the highway instead. We get the feeling the New Zealand is not the bicycle country, maybe it is better to stick to hiking…

Hiding and hiking in the Bay of Islands

Omakiwi cove
After a short walk from the Omakiwi cove we find our dinghy far up on the beach.
Otehei bay Urupukapuka
The Otehei bay in Urupukapuka
Urupukapuka bay
And the camp site is well prepared but still completely empty, that will soon be different!
And is this one not cute?
the older ones are freshly shaved, this one even with elegant stripes
The grass is so soft, we enjoy our picknick like sitting on the sofa
then the east coast track continues in a steep up and down right next to the cliffs…
…and a bit later passing the beautiful bays…
on the west coast of Urupukapuka.
Variable Oystercatcher Torea
On the beach we spot two Variable Oystercatcher Torea
California Quail
and two California Quail (we first thought these were Kiwis, but learnd that they are not…)

The next days we get strong winds first from the north then the south, so we move to different well protected bays in the Bay of Islands.

Since it is not raining often we explore some more hiking tracks.

From our base in the Omakiwi Cove we go by dinghy to the Cable bay on Urupukapuka island. There we round the island on excellent tracks with the most beautiful views. While the south and west are covered with bays the north of Urupukapuka is steep and rough.

Oke Bay
also the Oke Bay gives excellent protection in strong winds from the east, south or west
and it does seem to be spring time 😉

From Omakiwi we also hike to the Pukehuia, which is at the beginning of the Cape Brett track and with 320 m the highest hill in the area.

Learning how to paddle a SUP in 17 Degree Water

Reto reparing the Stand up Paddle board the we got from the Full Circle
My first excursion with the SUP – unsure about falling I put on the wet suit just in case..

In Opua our neighbor on the Full Circle gave us his broken stand up paddle board and Hugh from the Vega gave us the necessary two component glue.

Reto now carefully repairs the board and after 24 hours it is time to try. While he holds the board patiently he coaches me “a little bit in the knees, just like skiing…” and off I go paddling through the bay.

With plenty of dolphins to Cape Brett

Then it is about time that we move on towards Whangarei and we motor towards Cape Brett.

Dolphins Cape Brett
On our way to Cape Brett…
Dolphins Cape Brett
.. we are in company of a group of dolphins
Dolphins Cape Brett
for quite a long time.
Cape Brett
The lighthouse on Cape Brett, here the hikers can spend the night!
Dolphins Cape Brett
And right at the end the dolphins jump enthousiastically…
Dolphins Cape Brett
…and once again right in front of my camera.
Hole in the rock Piercy island
Then a picture of the famous hole in the rock and we are out in the open ocean again.

Just after passing the reefs next to Urupukapuka a group of dolphins turs up and stays with us all the way up to Cape Brett.

They have great fun, jump and turn around and scratch their backs at She San’s hulls.
Even though I am freezing I stay up front taking 250 pictures, and here’s the best of them 😉

At Cape Brett they leave us alone going out into the agitated open

Whangamumu, Whangaruru and Tutukaka

but only few miles further south we find the well sheltered Whangamumu bay
Whangamumu whaling station
On the location of the old whaling station there are still some relicts like the steam generator
And once again we hike to the Pukehuia, this time from Whangamumu
Attention – wild bees

A few miles further south we turn into the Whangamumu harbour, there it is quite again and the sea is flat.
Excellent place to go on the Paddle board 😉

But also the hiking here is great again.
Once again we hike the Pukehuia, this time from the other side. There is a 10 km long round track leading via the old whaling station to the bays north of Whangamumu, then joining the Cape Brett track and afterwards passing through a Kauri forest.

After 4 hours and 800 meter up and down I have to find out that is just the limit for my knees…

Please don’t run over the Kiwis!
Another beautiful hike at Whangaruru

The following day we move the 12 miles further down to the large bay of Whangaruru, which is surrounded by houses and camper vans. Nevertheless it is beautiful and has some good hiking tracks too.

Destination Whangarei

On our way to Whangarei we are happy that the squall passes in front of us.
…and afterwards the sun is out again, but sunbathing I only do with sweater and jacket on top..
Whangarei bridge
Just before the Marina in Whangarei townbasin a modern bridge is opened only for us.

Via Tutukaka 20 miles further south we head to the Bream Head at the entrance to Whangarei and have the right wind to actually sail 12 of the 15 miles up the river.

Only at the height of the boatyards we start the engine and shortly after we have to call the bridge to ask them to open. Within less then 5 minutes they stop the traffic and open up the bridge just for us, and trough we go.

We were a bit faster then calculated and therefore still early. It is only 1 hour after low water and we know the depths before the marina are not very much.

Reto continues anyway.
In the corner just in front of the marina our depth sounder says only 1.1 meter and we do have 1.3 meters – Reto expect the ship to stop. But “uff”  – nothing happens, and we are trough..

After a first night on the visitors dock we attach our She San between two wooden piles, here she stays now for the next months during the cyclone season in the tropics.

New Zealand - Cruising and Hiking from Opua to Whangarei

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