Day 2: Heading further north
Sunday evening Dargaville is a ghost town, but on Monday morning it awakes with a bang. By 9.00am the carpark was filling up, the main street was abuzz, cafes were chattering with late breakfasters and those of us getting our caffeine hit. BlahBlahBlah was our choice of cafe and that of most others by the looks of it. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the rohe. The weather seems to have taken a wee turn for the worse and it is cloudy. The sun tries to break through at times during the day but the rain is always threatening and brings with it a bit of a chill.
We stopped at Trounson Kauri Park on the way to Hokianga. We stayed here once before and sat out in the bush on a star-studded night on the lookout for kiwi which we heard but didn’t see. It is a beautiful bit of forest where kauri trees tower without dominating and provide space for other trees and bushes to thrive. We meandered our way along the boardwalk enjoying the cool freshness under the canopy of trees. The boardwalk has been installed since we were last here presumably in response to the growing threat of Kauri Dieback Disease which is decimating kauri trees throughout the forests of North Island. The process for getting people to clean their footwear before entering the forests is much more streamlined and efficient. There is some question as to whether human foot traffic is to blame and whether going to the effort of cleaning our shoes will do any good at all when forest animals wander at will spreading the spores. However, we reflected that at least it raises awareness of this important issue for New Zealand biodiversity and the protection of a tree that is iconic in Aotearoa. Several other footpaths in forests in the region are closed indefinitely due to the disease, so at least we still have the opportunity to see these majestic trees at the moment. If the measures in place enable us to continue to enjoy them then that;’s all good.
The clouds darkened and it turned colder. Rain was on its way. We were ready for lunch but decided to carry on rather than stop for more walks. We pulled into the layby that looked out over the Hokianga Harbour and Opononi and had lunch while we decided what to do about where to stay the next few nights. The lookout at the headland was a possibility if freedom camping was allowed, otherwise we needed to see if any of the holiday camps had spaces.
We drove along to the headland to find that we couldn’t camp there so turned back and stopped in at Opononi where there was space. A bird in the hand is worth holding onto so rather than carrying on we booked in. It’s a family-friendly campsite overlooking the harbour. Everyone seems friendly and it is clean and orderly. It will be interesting to see what happens on Hogmanay!
The rain and cloud blew in in waves up the harbour from the sea and so apart from a wander down the road to the pub for a beer, we stayed at the van, made tea and settled in for the night.
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