Mangrove Swamps and a Long Long Drive – New Zealand Day 10

I awoke fairly early in our idyllic campsite on the banks of the Waitangi River, just as it was getting light in fact.

I got into my running kit and headed off for a nice easy jog along the Waitangi River Trail. The trail crosses the Haruru Falls and follows the river for a while before heading off into the forest. The sun was rising, there was no wind and it was nice to be doing something active even if I was only jogging along at a slow pace, taking it easy and enjoying myself. I felt none the worse for wear after the Triathlon of a few days ago but it was good to get the legs moving.

After a while, the trail turns into a boardwalk through the mangrove swamps and then crosses a bridge to the other side of the river before heading off up over a hill towards the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. I didn’t go all the way but turned around after about 2.5 miles at the top of the hill and retraced my steps. There were loads of herons flying around the river and a number of kingfisher type birds as well. On the way back I noticed a whole load of black and white, cormorant shaped birds in the treetops too. They were just waking up and were sat in their nests preening themselves in the early morning sunshine. I’m not 100% sure what type they were but I’m assuming they were pied cormorants.

Waitangi River Run

Waitangi River Run

Once back at the campsite I had a shower in the shower block and then had breakfast in the camper with Anna and Morgan. Muesli with yoghurt – the New Zealanders seem to like adding yoghurt coated apricots to their muesli, its not something we see here very often but it was impossible to find a muesli without them there. I was developing quite a taste for them!

After breakfast we headed into Paihia and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where we parked up and walked towards the boardwalk that I had run across earlier. We were of course approaching from a different direction this time and it was a little further than I had expected, but we eventually found the mangrove swamps, this time with the tide out. Anna had particularly wanted to see the mangroves so we spent some time there enjoying the weird habitat and listening to the strange sounds of the swamp.

Mangrove Swamp

Mangrove Swamp

We stopped off for a quick geocache on the way back which morgan managed to find for us under a bridge and then decided to start driving south along the coast. We stopped off at Waipu Cove for a picnic lunch overlooking the beach and then bought a delicious carrot cake and a coffee from a coffee shop before continuing south to Waiwera. We took a look at the beach here and the hot springs complex but decided that it looked too much like a normal pool to us, was a little too busy and not really the sort of hot spring we were looking for, so we continued on our journey.

The original plan for the day had been to continue south to just beyond Auckland where we would find a campsite for the night before continuing on to the Coramandel Peninsula tomorrow morning. However, we knew that tonight was my parents last night at Whitianga on the Coramandel Peninsula so we came up with the crazy idea of trying to get to Whitianga in order to pay them a surprise visit. I’d already been driving most of the day but now had a challenge, It was Whitianga or bust!

Paihia to Whitianga

Paihia to Whitianga

We got held up a little in traffic through Auckland but were soon on some dead straight roads heading towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The road then weaved it way through the mountains with yet more stunning scenery, exotic vegetation and a number of apiaries dotted about here and there. We eventually hit Whitianga at around 8pm after more than 8 hours of driving. We managed to find my parents apartments and banged on the door. We did indeed give them a surprise as they weren’t expecting visitors of any sort, and certainly weren’t expecting to see us.

We had coffee and with them and produced a bag of cookies to share before we headed off towards Mercury Bay to find a campsite. We couldn’t find the free on we were looking for and it was now very dark, very late and we were all tired so we ended up in the Whitianga Camp Ground. It was OK here and had all of the facilities but we didn’t really spend much time there we just parked up and went to sleep. At $37 for the night it was pretty much the same price as the Haruru Falls campsite we’d stayed in last night but didn’t really have quite the same feel to it. There was nothing wrong with the campsite, in fact it was in a nice location, had all the facilities we needed (and more) and was backed by some nice forest, but after Haruru Falls any campsite had a lot to live up to. It was nice to snuggle into our bed safter a long day with lots of travelling though.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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