Most of our time since arriving in New Zealand a week ago has been spent on the west coast of Northland. Visualise a map of New Zealand and we are almost at the top of North Island on the west coast. Today is the day we move across to the east coast. This far north it is only around 30 km to the eastern shore which leaves plenty of time to explore on the way.
Just before arriving on the east coast there is a road leading off to the Karikari Peninsula. This oddly shaped peninsula bends to almost a right angle. The result is that quite close to each other at different places along the peninsula there are beaches that face north, south, east and west.
The most remote ones are only reached by unsealed tracks which can be a bit challenging for Yantze the city shopper but we aren’t in any hurry and like a challenge so coaxed her along to the furthest beach, Karikari Beach which faces north. This was a long stretch of golden sand with about two people in the far distance that we could see. Impressive but we knew we could do better.
A short drive down another track brought us to Maitai Bay. This bay was a perfect horseshoe with forest either side, golden sand and waves of the most amazing shades of turquoise rippling in. It looked and felt like paradise. There is a small Department of Conservation campsite there but with very minimal facilities. We only saw about three campers and three people on the beach. We walked the shore to the far end and sat for ages just soaking up the sheer beauty of the place. We talked about moving on a few times but didn’t do much about it. About three hours later, we made our way back to Yantze but not without the longing looks over our shoulder.
We headed back down the peninsula for a short stop at Whatuwhiwhi which faces south. Not in the same league as Maitai I’m afraid. Our final destination on the peninsula was Rangiputa which faces west. This beach as a sealed road so Yantze’s little tyres could have a rest from the gravel. There was a little settlement of small houses right on the water edge, all beautifully kept, and maybe one or two sets of holiday apartments.
The crystal clear waters where fringed by pure white sand. It was challenging Maitai’s number one position. A walk along the water edge, exploring some rock pools and generally just being lazy came easy here. On our return walk we saw a sign at one of the holiday apartment offices for ice creams, coffee etc. An ice cream was definitely a good plan but we were called over by a guy with an English accent who said that the apartments and shop were closed until December when the holiday season really kicks off. Shame…… It turns out that the guy was ex-police from Nottingham and had moved over to New Zealand 8 years ago. He was now in the NZ police force and ran the holiday apartments as well. Quite a change to being on the beat in Nottingham. I don’t think there is much pure white sand there!
This large bay was once the centre of the whaling industry from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s. The bay got it’s name from an entry in Captain Cook’s logbook where he wrote that this body of water was “doubtless a bay”. To be honest you can’t really miss it! Our airbnb was on Cable Bay at the southern end of the Doubtless Bay.
Not quite as turquoise and stunning as the other bays we had encountered but we do have to hit civilisation occasionally to stock up on supplies and enjoy a bit of down time after so much exploring remote beaches. We hit the jackpot though with the little Dairy at the end of the road that sells Mr Softy ice cream cones. The supermarket chains of Four Square, Countdown and New World may have to go without our custom for the next few days….. Cable Bay Dairy here we come!
Now for the results of our quest of the best beach on the Karikari Peninsula. So in no particular order, blah, blah…. the winner is Maitai Bay. The remoteness, the colour of the sea, sand and lush forest around give it the number one spot. Later in the summer we may have had a different experience but, at least until tomorrow when we are off exploring again, it can bask in the glory of being the one to beat. (Too many beach photo’s? You won’t believe the number we took and how difficult it was to narrow it down to just these few so no apologies this time round.)
14/11 – 15/11/2017