Country Road Northland

Northland, New Zealand.

The best thing about travel in New Zealand is that as soon as you hit the road your adventure begins. The roads in New Zealand are like no other. Time seems to slow down and even if you know where you are going, you cannot imagine what you will see along the way. They very much become a part of the story and connect you to the land. On a recent school holiday adventure my husband and I packed up our tribe and flew north to Auckland where we picked up a 6 berth motorhome for a 5 day quintessential kiwi road trip northbound. Our first stop out of Auckland was the quaint country township of Matakana. Surrounded by beautiful beaches (Omaha was a favourite) lush vineyards and incredibly fresh local produce makes this is a must stop for all travellers. We stocked up on locally grown produce from the renowned Matakana farmers markets, hands down one of the best produce markets in New Zealand. Over the next couple of days we discovered the incredibly lush Tutukaka Coast. We freedom camped at Sandy Bay just north of Matapouri Bay. Incredible sunrises followed by ocean swims in crystal clear waters on pristine white sandy beaches make this stretch of coastline one of New Zealand’s most picturesque places. We ventured out on a few coastal bush walks through to Whale Bay and over a steep cliff to the Mermaid Rock Pools, although we didn’t see any mermaids we felt pretty magical having the whole place to ourselves. Further north, we passed through the Bay of Islands, an enclave of more than 140 subtropical islands. We were lucky enough to buy some fresh oysters from a local fisherman on the side of the road…The Bay of Islands is a fisherman’s heaven and a seafood lovers dream. We got as far north as Taupo Bay- paddle boarding and surfing against lush green cliff faces drenched in native bush is something that will stay with me forever. Our trip ended at Mangonui, where we ate fresh seafood (a pot of mussels and seafood chowder) at the famous Mangonui fish and chips shop…as we turned around to head south again I couldn’t help but think of all that was left, waiting to be discovered in Northland. Just before returning our campervan we turned west and visited the rugged beaches of Piha and KareKare, just 45 minutes out of Auckland. With their black sand and rocky beaches we felt a million miles away from where we had just been…

Mark Townshend