Catching sunrise from North of Northland! 

It was a surreal morning. Driving slightly over 60km to the north most point of North Island – Cape Reinga. Swapped our flip flops to sneakers, pulled our jumpers over, held hands and chased the sun.

Moments later, after the sky lit up for us, we watched the clashing of the Tasman Sea with the Pacific Ocean. It felt like I was standing right on the line where the earth was clashing before me. For Maori, these turbulent waters are where the male sea meets the female sea. The whirlpools where the currents clash are like those that dance in the wake of a waka (canoe). They represent the coming together of male and female – and the creation of life.

Next up, was sandboarding at the Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes which was about 15km away. Apart from the struggle to climb up the sand dunes, it was fun! There is a mobile shop for board hire just next to the carpark. If I remember right, boards are about $15 each to hire.  Do note there is a fair bit of unsealed road driving before you get to the dunes.

Running along the base of the sand dunes is the famous Te Paki Stream that leads to the Ninety Mile Beach. We tried our luck to drive on the beach but due to tide conditions, we were told we had to wait another 2 hours or so. We didn’t have that much time on our side so we decided to make a round in the stream and head back down towards Auckland.

And with that, our 8-day Northland adventure comes to an end! Next up, was B’s birthday celebrations in Auckland and then hello, Hamilton!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

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The day I got locked out of the car.

Continuing the Northland adventures, we drove north from Paihia towards Cape Reinga stopping at Kerikeri town in the morning. Kerikeri is the largest town in Northland and is well known for its horticulture and farmer’s market. We stopped by the Old Packhouse Market and visited the Mission Station. This station is home to New Zealand’s oldest surviving building – the Stone Store and Kemp House.

Just after lunch we set off from Keri Keri and headed towards Matia Bay. It was a DOC campground site with a scenic view, which seemed to be a perfect pitstop to cook ourselves some dinner before heading up further north to call it a night.

Fuelled ourselves, had a drink, laughed with the wind in our hair, ran a cold shower in a toilet with no door and set off towards Rarawa Beach Campsite. The idea was so that we’ll have just about 60 more kilometers of driving to be done the next morning before we catch sunrise from Cape Reinga – New Zealand’s northern most tip where you witness the Pacific Ocean meeting the Tasman Sea.

Note: For freedom campers (like me), picking up a copy of a DOC brochure at any I-site would be your best bet in guaranteeing yourself a peaceful night of sleep without the worry of a district council officer knocking on your car window at 7am and leaving you with a $200 fine for illegal freedom camping. 

All seemed to be going fine and under control, despite my wariness of driving after dusk sets. It was slightly after 10pm when we pulled into the rather deserted campsite. There was no one except for a family of about 5 huddled around a picnic table under a huge shelter. We stepped out of the car with just a torchlight, no phones, just a torchlight to find our way to the toilet before heading to bed. 5 seconds after stepping out of the car and slamming the door shut, I realise my friend slams his door shut as well with the key left in the ignition holder. HOW.VERY.SMART!

Time Check: About 10.30pm

Temperature Check: 17 degrees

Attire Check: T-shirt + Shorts

Freezing our asses off from the cold, we walked over to the Mauri family to use their phone to give Automobile Association (AA) a call to come and rescue us. The hour long wait for AA was spent trying to laugh about the situation with the family who ended being our life – savers and of course, counting our lucky stars we bought AA insurance. I CANNOT imagine what would have happened had we been the only campers at the campsite that night.

I slept that night so very grateful that the universe had somehow conspired for us and smiled knowing I now live to narrate this adventurous travel story to everyone back home. 🙂

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Northland explored #1!

It’s been two full months since I left Solosingaporean unattended and cobwebs have been starting to grow. I finished the rest of my North Island travel two weeks back and decided to head home for a while (at least till the end of the year). New Zealand, I’m definitely coming back for you! There is still so much left for me to see and explore. A lot of my heart is still there, so let me spend my rather free days reminiscing and sharing all my travel stories.

The first stop out of Auckland was exploring entire Northland, all the way up to the Northern Tip, Cape Reinga. But, before starting our journey on the road, we spent 5 days at Sandra’s wonderful beachfront home at Waipu. Our timing was rather unfortunate as the drive from Auckland although relatively short (120km) was through the heart of Cyclone Pam. Road conditions were terrible with certain sections of the road blocked due to a massive accident and we encountered a flat battery after driving about 80km north from Auckland. After all the misadventures on the road, settling in the comfort of Sandra’s home with a cup of hot drink and some dinner reminded me how grateful it was to feel alive and safe.

     

When in Waipu region, Waipu Caves is a good place to stop to have a good glowworm experience for free. Entry to cave is wide but the grounds can be muddy especially if rainfall is heavy the previous few days. Make sure you have a torchlight with you to ease your experience through the caves.

Further north from Waipu, about 30km away, is Whangarei. There are more attractions like Claphams National Clock Museum, Mt Parihaka, Whangarei Falls etc. to explore in this area.

We ended up spending the first night in Northland region in Paihia, which was another 70km north from Whangarei. We cooked with a view of a spectacular sunset in a golf course and fell asleep counting the stars before our eyes.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Accommodations for the adventurous soul.

So my recent 10 day trip to Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Australia saw me trying out different types of accommodation, from couchsurfing, to home stay and motels (both luxurious ones to 4 bedder ones). Planning accommodations while travelling is probably one of the most important on the list of things to do before jetting off. I mean, who doesn’t want a comfortable night of sleep after a long day of walking around and sightseeing!

1. Couchsurfing 

Couchsurfing wasn’t something I was planning to do when I was crafting out my itinerary. I was looking for a place to stay at Coolum for a night so that I could set off in the morning for my Mt Coolum climb. There weren’t many options for me on Agoda or Airbnb which resulted in couchsurfing crossed my mind. No regrets at all! My host was wonderful. I took her out for dinner and fell asleep watching re-runs of Miranda. We did the Mt Coolum climb together in the morning and had breakfast by the beach before I headed up North to Noosa.

2. Motel

Motels are probably the most common cheaper alternative to hotels that we are all quite familiar with. If you are looking to stay in Noosa, I highly recommend Noosa Sun Motel. Good location facing the river and walking distance from cafes/restaurants. Spacious rooms with living area and a nice veranda to enjoy morning coffee or read the papers. I booked my room for AUD 100/night. Motel run by a lovely couple who take care of all your needs. I left my baggage with them before I headed for my 3 day Fraser tour and had no hassle collecting them after.

3. Home stay

My personal favourite when travelling is to stay with a local family. Had the privilege of meeting Jo and her lovely husband, Chris while I was on a tour in Hoi An, Vietnam early this year. Who knew 3 months later she would be hosting me! Travelling by train/bus from Gold Coast all the way up to Sunshine Coast was so tortuous. (6-7 hour journey!) I’m glad Jo welcomed me to her home and cooked up a lovely meal for me. We then drove to Mooloolaba for a stroll before calling it a night.

4. Airbnb

Airbnb has been my favourite travel companion since 2012. Cat and Leon’s place in Aroona was just perfect for me to spend my last day in Sunshine Coast just chilling. If you are looking to meet locals, I highly recommend using Airbnb to book your accommodations. There is only so much travel guides can tell you. Live like a local with a local.

So, here’s some options for you to consider if you’re looking for the less travelled path when it comes to accommodation bookings. Hope this helped your travelling planning 🙂

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

 

Shelly to North Head, conquered!

I still recall the afternoon I was cycling all the way past Manly only to find myself at Shelly beach. It was beautiful, looking at Manly’s skyline, from another vantage point. I’ll let the pictures do the talking .

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Shelly Beach

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Shelly Beach

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From the foot of the staircase leading up to North Head

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The path is quite uphill and covered with gravel. Some distances of the climb lacks proper signages, I did get lost. And at some points, I had to follow my instinct and pick a route to continue walking in. But, hey, what’s an adventure without some mis-adventures.

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Signs like these are life saviours indeed. #truestory

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After the gravel ridden path, you end up in this stretch of the climb which is quite easy to cover because of the raised metal floor. This area is just before you hit the road – which is kind of the last lap of the climb.

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Happy climber at North Head

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View from North Head

Going past the North Head, you have something called, Fairfax Walking Track, which is basically a 1km loop that brings you back to your starting point.

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Entrance of Fairfax walking track

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Sydney’s skyline

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This was how windy it was up from North Head!

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En route down to Shelly beach

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The descend down of course, was very much easier compared to the climb up. Entire climb took me slightly under 2 hours (including Fairfax walking track).

Highly recommend this scenic walk. Definitely one of my highlights during my trip.

If you have a longer span of time, you might want to cover The Spit which is a very popular scenic walk.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.