2 UP 2 DOWN

With Labour Weekend ap­proach­ing, thoughts turn to the first roadie of the hol­i­day sea­son. Here’s a few lo­cal op­tions, and some fur­ther afield.

Element - - Travel -

TAWHA­RANUI

It’s many peo­ple’s favourite sum­mer beach within strik­ing dis­tance of Auck­land, but fewer opt to stay the night. But more of the area’s magic is re­vealed when the day trip­pers head back to the city. Dusk is an ac­tive time for the area’s wildlife, which in­cludes Pateke, North Is­land brown kiwi, North Is­land robin, white­heads, bell­birds, bit­tern, blue reef heron, spot­less crake, fern­bird and NZ dot­terel. The en­tire penin­sula is a ma­rine re­serve, so fish­ing is not al­lowed, but there’s a great beach just back past the pest-proof on the left if you’re keen to try your luck. De­li­ciously iso­lated, civil­i­sa­tion in the form of pubs, shops, cafes and mar­kets are less than 15km away at Matakana. The bare min­i­mum is avail­able in the camp­ground – potable wa­ter and a long drop. Book­ings must be made in ad­vance – phone (09) 301 0101

TA­PA­PAKANGA RE­GIONAL PARK

Ev­ery two years this re­gional park is thronged with peo­ple for the Splore Fes­ti­val (run­ning Feb 14-16 next year), but for the rest of the year it re­mains an oa­sis of calm with lit­tle to do but en­joy the sun, sea and peace and quiet. Shel­tered from pre­vail­ing west­er­lies, the park fea­tures two camp­grounds – one on the hill and the sec­ond – more pop­u­lar – among the gi­ant po­hutukawas and rolling land­scapes run­ning along­side the stony/sandy beach. Walk south and dis­cover the fresh wa­ter la­goon and idyl­lic pic­nic spots. Book­ings must be made in ad­vance – phone (09) 301 0101.

AWHITU PENIN­SULA

One of Auck­land’s best-kept se­crets, the Awhitu Penin­sula is no more than 1.5 hours from the cen­tral city. It’s the south­ern head of the Manukau Har­bour, and any pre­con­ceived no­tions of man­groves, mud and murky wa­ter are dis­pelled when you get to Gra­hams and Hud­sons beaches, or Big and Orua Bays. At low tide, in waist-deep wa­ter, scal­lops can be picked off the sand (you’ll need a mask). There’s a de­cent cur­rent along here which at full tide means chil­dren have to be watched, but at low tide it is shal­low and safe. Awhitu Re­gional Park has one of the best camp­ing grounds any­where. For book­ings phone (09) 301 0101

THE KAI IWI LAKES

The finest of the cu­ri­ous dune lakes stretch­ing up and down the west coast of north­ern North Is­land, the three Kai Iwi lakes are some­thing of a mar­vel. Crys­tal clear fresh wa­ter and white sand comes as a sur­prise so close to the black sand beaches of the west coast, and the lakes sit in over 500 hectares of re­serve. They’re safe for kids, and of­fer great swim­ming, kayak­ing, fish­ing and boat­ing. Ta­haroa Do­main , on the lake fore­shore, has two camp­grounds – Pine Beach and Prom­e­nade Point, one ba­sic, one well equipped. For book­ings phone (09) 4394757.

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