Northland Loop

My original plan for my second to last full day in NZ was to travel from Whangarei to Cape Reinga. It was slated to be three hours up and three hours back. Cape Reinga is at the very tip of the North Island and is a sacred place for the Maori. I was mainly going because it is supposed to be beautiful. I knew there wasn't much up there once you got an hour or so away, but considering I had been in the middle of nowhere for the previous two weeks I didn't think it was a big deal.

The lady, I have no idea what her name was, running the YHA in Whangarei started to talk to me about other options as soon as I mentioned my plan (see previous post). She basically thought it wasn't worth it and that if I was going just to say I had been it definitely wasn't worth the drive. That wasn't why I was going but I heard her out anyways. She mentioned going up to Paihia instead and cruising around the bay of islands. She said if I was really ambitious I could also go over the west coast and see the forest and such. Little did she know how ambitious I am when it comes to travel. She said it might take me all day. In my head I thought not quite sure how that is different than taking the whole day to go to Cape Reinga, but her enthusiasm about the forest intrigued me. I looked at the loop on the map, did some reading about the area and decided to sleep on it.

My roommate for that night, the lady from New Caledonia ( I am not even going to attempt spelling her name) turned out to be the loudest female snorer I have ever heard. So loud in fact that it rivals most of the men on my fathers side of the family. This is is impressive to say the least. The woman couldn't have been more than 90lbs making the noise even more impressive. I literally have no idea how such a noise can come out of such a small person. She was maybe 50 or 60, I'm awful with ages, long hair and a super tiny frame. I actually started to recognize the sounds of sleep apnea, or rather lack of sound and breath. It made for an interesting night for me. My headphones only did so much but I still got a decent enough nights sleep.

I was up and out by sunrise at 7am. The tossing and turning eventually just chucked me out of bed. I had studied the area overnight and had a general plan for the day. I would go to Whangarei Heads and Ocean Beach to start and then make my way up to Paihia and see how I was feeling by that point. Two guesses as to how I was feeling by that point...

Whangarei Heads wraps around the slight north -east coast of Whangarei. They are mountains that literally look like they have heads on them. As you come around the bend and see them you have to stop to examine them. There are a few nice little bays along the way where you can stop. It is a geological illusion. Each direction you look at them from, they  look a bit different or you can see a different one. I had a great time looking at them, not so different from looking at the clouds and seeing what you can make with your eyes.
Whangarei Heads

Whangarei Heads

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach
If you keep driving past the heads and the small bays with boats you will eventually hit the end of the road that overlooks Ocean Beach. There is a nice deck/viewing platform that overlooks the whole beach. Back down the road a minute is the turn that brings you to the actual beach. It is a short walk from the car park to the beautiful sand and crashing waves. There was no one else on the beach. I just watched the waves for a while and enjoyed (especially with no sand flies to be felt). I like the beach early in the morning it has such a nice feel to it.

My drive to Paihia from this area took a bit longer than expected. I took a coastal route which was nice but brought me inland more than I wanted it too. I saw a few nice beaches but then was eventually all inland. I stopped a few places but then eventually got on the main road to head north. 


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