Day 3 Monday 17 February – Auckland, Kauri Forest, Bay of Islands

We woke to another beautiful day – blue skies and sunshine.  After a leisurely breakfast, we boarded our APT TravelMarvel coach and left Auckland, heading north just before 8.30am.  Our Tour Director is Laurie and our coach driver is Malcolm, both of whom are lovely and have great senses of humour.  We have a full coach of 48 adventurers, from several different countries including Australia, Malta, England , Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

We headed over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which is still referred to as the “Nipon Clipon” because a Japanese company won the tender to extend the 4 lane bridge to 8 lanes and this was achieved by adding two lanes to each side of the existing bridge.

We headed north though a variety of scenery and were surprised to find that a place called Te Hana, which is 70 kilometres from the Auckland City Centre, is still actually part of Auckland.  From relatively flat farming areas, to rolling hills, forests, mountain ranges and coastal beaches, we made our way north, then west, skirting the western coast to the Kauri Forest. Along the way we saw lots of native vegetation growing beside the road – New Zealand Cabbage trees, Manuka Honey trees, small Kauri trees, native Palm trees and some noxious weeds, although beautiful – wild ginger and gorse.

We stopped for morning tea at Matakohe at the Gumdiggers Café and bought wraps/sandwiches for our lunch to be eaten later and noticed that some clouds had started to roll in.

The interesting and beautiful drive through the Kauri Forest Reserve was on a fairly steep, winding road where the forest was encroaching on the roadway.  We saw various types of ferns, palms and Kauri trees of varying ages. The young Kauri trees, called Ricker, are measured in the 100s of years old.  The Reserve is one of the few areas of Kauri Forest left in New Zealand and is only 2.5 thousand hectares.  As a result of this, New Zealand has passed a law that no-one is allowed to chop down native trees, even on their own property. Radiata Pine is now being used as a fast growing alternative for the timber industry.

We stopped at the giant Kauri tree, called Tane Mahuta or ‘Lord of the Forest’, the largest Kauri tree known to stand today.  Tane Mahuta is believed to be around 2 000 years old and its trunk height is 17.7 metres, total height is 51.5 metres, trunk girth is 13.8 metres, with the trunk volume being 244.5 cubic metres.  After a short walk into the forest, there were two vantage points where we could see the magnificent tree – one up close and the other a bit further away so that, with some difficulty, we could get the whole tree in a photograph.

Kauri trees have been popular from the days of first settlement because the foliage is predominately at the top of a very tall straight trunk, making it perfect for ships’ masts and ships’ spars and also because the country was covered with Kauri trees.  We had our lunch there before continuing our journey.

As we came up a hill, Laurie told us all to close our eyes until he said we could open them and be prepared for a “Wow” view.  He certainly was correct!  We stopped at Pakia Hill overlooking Hokianga Harbour and the view was spectacular!!!  The harbour is 56 kilometres long from the Tasman Sea and the sand-dunes continued for quite some way.

We passed through Kaikohe, where we saw some volcanic cones and continued on to Paihia at the Bay of Islands, which is in the Northland Region of the North Island and is on the east coast.  The Bay is a natural harbor and is an irregular 16km-wide inlet that is most popular for fishing and sailing. This area symbolises the birthplace of the nation with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 in the Waitangi Reserve.

We were taken to our hotel, the Paihia Pacific Resort Hotel and checked into our rooms, started our blog before freshening up for our first dinner together as a tour group.  We sat with some lovely people from Scotland on one side and some lovely people from Ireland on the other side of us.  We enjoyed a lovely meal and chatting with much laughter.

Today, we have seen such beautiful scenery and have all enjoyed our journey to the Northland.

2 Responses to “Day 3 Monday 17 February – Auckland, Kauri Forest, Bay of Islands”

  1. Shell-Belle says:

    Happy Birthday to you.
    Happy Birthday to you.
    Happy Birthday Dearest Sandy.
    Happy Birthday to you!!

    I do hope you have a super duper special day, just like you!!!
    I’m SOOOOO happy for both you & Maria….knowing you are both able to celebrate each others birthday TOGETHER!!! That just makes this day & your holiday together EVEN more SPECIAL!!! I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate your birthday with, you when you get home!!! So what are the plans for celebrating your special day???

    Travel safe & keep having a wonderful time!!!

    Lots of love & friendship,

    Shell-Belle xxoo

  2. Paul Sutton says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY sandy. Sent a text message to your phone but thought I would take out a little online insurance via the comments as well. Sounds like you are having a great time already – probably don’t need the birthday!! Enjoy the special day today.

    love Paul and Michelle

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