North

Well we headed up to a town called Whangarei last weekend. It’s a big town / city by NZ terms but think of the size of Ramsgate and it would be an exageration of it’s size. You get there on SH1 (State Highway) which is the main route from the far north of the north island (Cape Reinga) to the far south of the south island (East End / Bluff). As a main route it goes through several size variation from Motorway (about 80km of it!!!!) through to single lane bridges in the far north and far south. I don’t recall any metaled surface in my travels down it in the past but it wouldn’t surprise me at it’s extremes. Anyway back to Whangarei, it’s about 1 hr and 40 mins away from home and our travels took us through the infamous Dome Valley. It’s part of SH1 that’s the size and has the bendabillity (??????) of the Wingham bends but with a worse accident record.
I decided, before we left, that Lisa was going to be inducted into life at a backpackers (hostel). I chose one from the internet and I sold the idea to Lisa. All but 1 of my previous (numerous) encounters with backpackers have been great. This time the 1 previous bad encounter was joined by another. The Whangarei falls backpackers is old and outdated. The best words to describe words it are – functional – good location – has potential. The cabin we had was very basic. It had a few 60’s – 70’s throwbacks still in sound condition so why update!?! The spa was being updated (priorities?), the pool far too cold and the trampoline had metal surround protected by padding as thin as a thin thing on an especially thin day. It was right next to the waterfalls (nice) and a stones throw to various walks and close enough to the city.
We had a walk through various bit’s of bush along tracks of different condition but mostly well marked and non-slip bridgelets. We saw Kauri trees. They are the king of the bush, huge straight and only have branches at the top. They live for ages and have decorative wood too. Some are dragged from swamps after 50,000 years (yep it’s no typo) and made into stunning …. er …. stuff.
Kauri Bowl
Tane
The walks were great with native bush and rivers, bridges and the occasional Tui.
Tui
We ended up in the city on Saturday afternoon, almost (very, very nearly) everything was shut at about 3pm! Disappointed and disillusioned we bought fish (pronounced foush) and chips (chups) and retired to our luxury abode. In the evening the boys were showered (an adventure in a separate shower block) and in bed. It left us with nowhere to go but bed (in the same room) and read books by candlelight and my phone light but things looked up when we cracked open the Jim Beam that was on special offer at the local bottle shop.
More adventures in the bushlands (A H Reid memorial park) and then we started to head home.
The journey isn’t bad and gave us inspiration for other places to go in the near future. The kids were very good and were rewarded by the much asked for Mickey D’s home of the slime burger followed by the lovely ice cream of Orewa. A Kiddie cone (about the size and quality from Morrelis) costs just over 50p and an adult cone is almost a meal, which means that the twin cones are pudding as well?!?

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