North­land Ex­pe­ri­ences: The Old Chooks Tour of North­land

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

An ad­ven­ture of a life­time al­ways starts with an­tic­i­pa­tion, a pinch of the un­known, an ex­cit­ing un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence, and not re­ally know­ing the out­come. I was very for­tu­nate to host the Old chooks on our tour im­mers­ing our­selves in North­land’s his­tory, cul­ture, sam­pling lo­cal de­li­cious pro­duce and ex­plor­ing its hid­den trea­sures.

The Old Chooks ar­rive in Pai­hia, Bay of Is­lands and en­joy the lux­ury of Edge­wa­ter Apart­ments set on the water­front.

The next day they set off on their time­less ad­ven­ture by catch­ing a boat out to the wildlife sanc­tu­ary of Urupuka­puka, one of the seven pest free is­lands of Ipipiri,

sit­u­ated in the Eastern Bay of the Bay of is­lands.

We were wel­comed with the won­der­ful sounds of the many species of bird­song, and the end­less flut­ter of the tuis wings as they sailed past us.

We trekked our way through some of the most prime real es­tate for the re-in­tro­duced na­tive bird species, such as the cu­ri­ous toutouwai [North Is­land robin], bronzed beauty tieke [sad­dle­back], the cheeky popokotea [ white­head] , and the sen­sa­tional bird­song of the tui.

Our mis­sion was to spot the elu­sive, very rare, but in­cred­i­ble beau­ti­ful kakariki [na­tive green para­keet] and it lived up to its ex­pec­ta­tion. This spec­tac­u­lar bright red green para­keet, and with the other rare species de­lighted us with their pres­ence, cruis­ing in and in­ter­act­ing with us, such a treat.

We came out of the bush to Par­adise Bay, which cer­tainly lived up to its name with a de­light­ful pic­nic lunch freshly made from lo­cal pro­duce, then a swim in the tran­quil wa­ters.

Leav­ing this be­hind we made a small de­tour to the see the brown teal duck, be­fore tack­ling the hike up the end­less steps and over­look­ing sheer cliff drops to take in the spec­tac­u­lar views look­ing out across the Bay of Is­lands.

The day ended watch­ing the sun­set over­look­ing the wa­ter sip­ping a well-de­served drink, con­tem­plat­ing how won­der­ful our day was, and in­dulging in the out­stand­ing feast of lo­cal del­i­ca­cies from the deck of the Iconic Duke of Marl­bor­ough in Rus­sell. Just Magic.

The next day, was like step­ping back in time. So tran­quil and peace­ful fol­low­ing the Waikare Con­nec­tion River Trail, Rus­sell For­est sec­tion of the Te Araroa Trail.

The na­tive bush for­est there is flour­ish­ing, seem­ingly undis­turbed and un­touched for hun­dreds of years. Mag­nif­i­cent old kauri, puriri, to­tara trees and nikau palms make this walk out­stand­ing.

Get­ting our feet wet, this track twists and weaves its way along the river, climb­ing over, through and around boul­ders, trees and rocks fol­low­ing the nat­u­ral course of the river. stun­ning, and team­ing with na­tive bush and wildlife. A well-kept north­land hid­den trea­sure.

An­other won­der­ful end to the day, sam­pling some of the de­li­cious lo­cal del­i­ca­cies and wine, buzzing from our days ad­ven­ture, at the lov­ingly re­stored old es­tab­lish­ment Left Bank Ho­tel in Kaikohe.

Our last days ad­ven­ture we traded our hik­ing shoes briefly, for elec­tric bikes to sam­ple a leg of the Pou Herenga Twin Coast Cy­cle Trail.

For most of the group this was their first time on elec­tric bikes, let’s just say they just loved them and had such a won­der­ful day cy­cling some of the most spec­tac­u­lar, off the beaten track, sights that only North­land can of­fer. Tak­ing in the stun­ning views on this off road trail, travers­ing down val­leys and fol­low­ing the river­banks be­fore stop­ping for a pic­nic lunch

be­side the river. Then back on the bikes to tra­verse along the gravel back­roads be­fore cruis­ing along one of Nz’s long­est board­walk over the man­groves, fin­ish­ing at the pic­turesque place that time has for­got­ten, Horeke, on the Hokianga Har­bour.

Later in the af­ter­noon, we ex­plored the unique ge­o­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non of Wairere Boul­ders. A won­der­ful unique pri­vately owned farm who has cre­ated a walk which al­lows in­ter­ac­tion with­out de­ter­ring from the eco­log­i­cal restora­tion of the na­tive forests and bush­land.

This na­tive bush walk cel­e­brates the na­tive sub­trop­i­cal habi­tat, alive with the songs of bird and lush with veg­e­ta­tion nar­row path­ways through the basalt rocks carved by na­ture. Af­ter­wards, we fin­ished this trek sam­pling the farmer’s home cooked de­li­cious treats.

Our last stop for the day was at the mag­nif­i­cent Man­gungu

Mis­sion House on the Horeke Har­bour. This was the largest sign­ing of the Treaty of Wai­tangi, with over 3000 chiefs present, also a mag­nif­i­cent view­point.

Our last night we found our­selves in the unique House over the Wa­ter sit­ting out over the Hokianga Har­bour where we re­laxed and happy, sit­ting on the deck over the wa­ter, re­flect­ing on our as­tound­ing ad­ven­ture, and sam­pling the chilled wine and lo­cal cheese be­fore head­ing over to New Zealand’s old­est sur­viv­ing pub, Horeke Ho­tel.

Whilst in­dulging in suc­cu­lent pork belly, and de­li­cious thick juicy steaks from lo­cal farm­ers, we lis­tened to all the colour­ful lo­cal tales, sto­ries and en­ter­tain­ing char­ac­ters brought to life by the pub­li­can. A world that time left be­hind and a fit­ting end to our ad­ven­ture sip­ping drinks, laugh­ing, and watch­ing the spec­tac­u­lar sun­set over the Hokianga Har­bour.

I was lucky enough to share this ex­pe­ri­ence with a won­der­ful group of eight ladies call­ing them­selves the ‘old chooks’.

We have shared some mem­o­ries of a life time, from help­ing each other over the ob­sta­cles, to the many laughs, I thor­oughly en­joyed their com­pany and I have made new friends to share many more ad­ven­tures with. A great es­cape ex­plor­ing our un­touched by time land­scape, won­der­ful com­pany, stun­ning food and meet­ing some colour­ful lo­cals all put to­gether in one North­land Ex­pe­ri­ence pack­age. Thank you old chooks I had a blast with you all!

North­land Ex­pe­ri­ences have an all-in­clu­sive 5 day cy­cle trip that runs weekly, cy­cling from coast to coast. Or you can cre­ate a be­spoke tour of just walk­ing or cy­cling or a mix as the Old Chooks did.

www.north­land­ex­pe­ri­ences. co.nz

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