Wandering around Whangarei

After limping into Whangarei 6 days ago, we have explored it in depth due to the car being in intensive care!!

Mt Manaia

Asking the car of one final journey (garages shut on a Sunday), we made our way to Whangarei Heads and walked up Mt Manaia. And from the bottom to the top it was uphill all the way – carrying Evie was definitely my workout for the day!

What a LOT of steps!

After enjoying the view from the top we headed back down.

Was an absolutely beautiful forest.

To protect it you had to clean and disinfect your shoes on the way in & out of the forest .

For a refresh we headed to nearby Taurikura Bay was beach for a picnic and a swim.

A shallow bay, the water was so warm that Evie walked straight in and kept walking! So her first proper dip in the sea.

It then started to rain – heavy tropical rain! So we packed up and went back to the ranch having got the best from the day.

Hatea Loop

Being without a car, we probably did this 4.2 km loop 7 times or more! It seems that in 2006 onwards Whangarei decided to get its town fit! With outdoor fitness stations

toilets, water fountains, information boards, sculptures,

playgrounds,

a BMX pump track, small bouldering area, dog walkers dog fun areas, this loop has it all! And it was busy from early morning to late a night (we experienced most times of the day on this loop!). It also passes through the marina,

so you can look at all the expensive boats, and the Town Basin.

Evie asked for us to have a go on the pump track. Two loops around there and then 3 spokes broke on my back wheel. The bike had to go to bike hospital to.

The Town Basin

The tourist area of Whangarei, this a pretty collection of decorative shops, cafes, restaurants, an art gallery, theatre and the Clock Museum. It sits within the marina, is very pleasant, and nothing like the rest of Whangarei, which is an otherwise functional town.

Claphams National Clock Museum

Having some time to spare, Evie chimed up that she would like to go to the Clock Museum to see the cookoos sing!

Get a drink in the cafe opposite, keep the receipt and you then get into the Clock Museum for half price!

And this very modern building , with a huge sundial outside is full of very old clocks and two enthusiastic ladies who work there.

From novelty clocks to grandfather clocks and everything in between! With a bit of nice history to Mr Claphams Clock collection and clocks in general.

Hatea River Walk to Whangarei Falls

The information suggested that Whangarei Falls were 2&1/2 hours away by foot, we did it in about 1hr 45mins (you can drive to them). Once out of Whangarei you again find yourself in beautiful forest. So ancient that you never know what you may see…!!

You do have to keep your eyes peeled for the little posts, but it is a popular route with walkers and runners alike.

The falls themselves are beautiful and the pool was nice to swim in.

The walk itself is mildly undulating.

Hatea track bike ride

The Hatea track continues in the other direction (towards Whangarei Heads) which is great for bikes and feels very safe off the road. It then winds along a red hard sand track through some woods. And then it finishes. In fairness it finishes at a play park and some toilets.

So still with no car, and with my bike fixed (with fingers crossed), Tim hires a bike and the 3 of us set out for the day. We packed our swim stuff, for for Evie and off we went.

With a definite thirst and some hunger, we decided to keep going beyond the end of the track and search for a cafe. Given as we were biking through residential areas you would think this would be easy. However, as we kept moving and our water bottles got lower and lower, we eventually realised that there were no cafes to be had. So we found a caravan park to fill our water bottles and turned around.

The water here didn’t look too inviting so the swim stuff could have stayed back at the ranch.

25 miles round trip to our failed cafe stop, we got back to Whangarei for some well deserved refreshments!

Whangarei leisure centre pool

We went here twice in our stay at Whangarei. It is a fantastic pool – there is a baby area, a toddler splash area, a fun pool with a wave machine, slides, an outdoor diving pool, a spa, a hydrotherapy rehab pool and an indoor laned pool. So basically something for everyone. All accessible for a mere $6 per adult, which we thought was a bargain!

Evie loves the opportunity to play with other kids and we enjoyed the slides and the swimming pool!

It had a good cafe to with awesome shakes to!

Glow in the dark mini-golf

Mini golf with a difference, this small 18 hole course was hand made and unique! And if you wear the right clothes you to can glow in the dark as you are playing.

It did take Evie a minute to get used to – she screamed when she first entered the course. But was crawling around it within minutes.

The Volvo is fixed!

On day 6 the Volvo is finally fixed! So we feel we made the most of Whangarei, we did one last evening stroll of the Hatea Loop, packed our bags and time to move on.

The adventure continues – driving on to Whangarei

Sad to leave the Coromandel Peninsula, we drove out over the gravelled 309 road and along the western side of the peninsula.

We came to a joint conclusion that although still beautiful, around Whitianga had much better beaches and more interesting coastline. stopping for a hilltop coffee from a van, to take in the views.

And then an unplanned final meet up with Granny & Grandad in a cafe in Thames, where Evie was spoilt and bought some maracas!

Out of the beautiful Coromandel and on through Auckland…. except…..

….. the traffic slowed and the Volvo did not like it.

Taking an emergency break, we found ourselves close to Auckland Botanic Gardens, and so spent a couple of hours there. New for botanical gardens, they had a children’s garden (but not play area)

As well as nice rose gardens, the biggest rubber plant tree I have ever seen in my life, an impressive visitors centre and some funky sculptures.

Finally we decided to try the car again. It wasn’t a very happy car but it did start and drive.

It being quite late in the day by now, seeing a sign on the road for some food, we pulled off at Puhoi, an old hamlet of a town, and happened across Puhoi pub’s annual log cutting championship!! And what a festivity it was!

One of those randomly cool places that you don’t plan upon.

Onwards in the limping car, we did stop at a view point looking over Whangarei and the Whangarei Heads.

Stunning…… and yes, with careful teasing by Tim, the Volvo got us there…. just!