Fun in the Far North
Uncover the beauty of this vast, untouched region
We checked in at Auckland Airport, met by a bubbly young man by the name of Hayden. He said, “you’re the last to check in, so if it suits you, we will look at boarding 5 minutes early”. He directed us to the Retro Espresso Coffee caravan, where we got a discount by showing our Barrier Air Boarding pass. Winning! Coffee in hand we boarded through the regional gates. We rounded the corner to gate 49 where another young man in yellow high viz met us and walked us to the aircraft. We boarded through the back of the plane and slid past 4 rows of Leather seats up to the Row 1 bench seat (right behind the pilot). Our pilot introduced himself as Ken. He welcomed us all and began his safety briefing, pointing out the exits and how to operate the seat belts. He told us about the flight route, weather and what we should expect. We took off at 6:15pm and the view as we climbed out was a thing of absolute beauty. The sun was out the left side of the plane setting behind the Manukau Heads. Out of the right was Auckland City and the harbour was swimming in orange light. We continued the trek up towards the Far North. It was a clear night and once the dark set in we could see the lights from Whangarei, Kaikohe and Kerikeri. Not too long later we heard Ken over the PA. “We are starting our descent into Kaitaia. Weather in Kaitaia is calm with little wind and a chilly 10 Degrees on the ground. The weather tomorrow is forecast to be excellent and with that in mind enjoy the far north”. 15 minutes later we were on the ground.
A glance at my watch told me take off to touch down took a little over an hour. We had booked a rental car with Northland Rentals and were met by one of their staff on arrival. As it was already 7:30pm he got us on our way quickly and we were off to the motel to check in. We found Kaitaia Motor Lodge online. They were quite cheap which suited us! We dropped our bags off to the room and after some quick banter with Mary and Peter at the motel, we were off to the Beach Comber for steak and a drink. Friday morning we had a bit of work to take care of. Fortunately our meetings were wrapped up by 11am, giving us time for an impromptu day trip in the Far North. Thankfully, I had the foresight to pack shorts, Jandels and a tee shirt. For the rest of our roadie supplies ,Tom and I hit the main street. Four bottles of water, a bottle of sunblock and a bag of Pineapple lumps later, we were in the car on the way to 90 Mile beach. We hit Shipwreck bay with a pizza and sat in the sun for lunch. The Beginner surfers were out in the SW swells which made for good watching. Some locals told us a four-wheel drive will get us to some better surf spots however I don’t think our small rental could take it. We continued north, only stopping at Waitiki Tourist centre for a last fuel up – a couple of cold drinks and massive three-scoop ice creams to battle the heat!
Cape Reinga wasn’t much further. There were countless buses and tourist already there. I spent some time walking around reading the plaques on the descent down to the lighthouse. The views were phenomenal, with the ocean reaching out on all sides and on a day like today you can’t help but stop and take a moment. After offering to take some group photos for some of the tourists, Tom sparked up a conversation with some backpackers from Germany. After swapping some travel tales and what’s on the cards next, somehow we all ended up on the road to the Great Dunes to try out sand boogieboarding. Knowing nothing about this we were lucky that it was easily signposted and there were plenty of places to hire Boards. It cost us $15 for the board hire. After a few runs down some very steep dunes it was easy to see that it was money well spent! The day was getting on so Tom and I were back in the car to Kaitaia. Pete and Mary at the Motor lodge were nice enough to hold our bags for the day. Thanking them we collected our gear, picked up some dinner from Kai Thai and made our way back to the airport for Barrier Air GB620 back to Auckland.