Cunninghams On Parade - 2017 New Zealand: Return to the Shire travel blog

We drove to the Waipoua Forest and along the way we see...

We had hoped to see the tallest kauri tree in NZ but...

We were disappointed by the closure of the path to the Lord...

Sunday, April 9, 2017



Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune-I myself am good fortune;

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Strong and content, I travel the open road….

….From this hour, freedom!

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,

Listening to others, and considering well what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me…

...I inhale great draughts of space;

The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.”

*Sorry, Rob, I know that was a long quote! LOL.*

That’s not the poem in its entirety but the parts that speak to me most directly. Thanks, Volvo, for introducing me to this fabulous bit of literature! It so eloquently sums up the allure, the calling, the wanderlust, the siren song that the open road holds for some of us!


Woke up with the alarm at 7:00. Slept well, looks like a shower or two passed in the night but the sun is out some this morning along with some clouds still. We got up, made tea and coffee and I worked on the journal and Art worked on pictures. It was lovely to see some sun so we were hopeful as we pulled out at 9:15. Drove about half an hour to Ahipara, a town on the coast and the bottom limit of 90 Mile Beach. Drove down a neighborhood road and parked on the side since there was no actual parking lot there and walked to the beach. The reason there was no actual parking lot is that you can drive on the beach and there was an entrance spot right there. Art might have entertained briefly the idea of trying that, but I was quick to remind him of the time in Oregon when we got stuck on a beach and had to get pushed out. So that was that….he had to be satisfied with walking along and watching some others drive including some on quad bikes, motorbikes, etc. There were even some surfers out there trying in the small rollers coming ashore. I KNOW those guys were cold out there...LOL.

Back to the camper and we continued heading south on our open road. We took the scenic route all day, down Hwy. 1 to the junction with Hwy. 12 at Kaikohe. We pulled in there at 11:30 for gas $1.24/liter (we saved 6 cents per liter so $1.18 effectively and the total was $48) and asked the fellow about a bakery for some lunch and he pointed us just down the main street. Parked on a side street and walked into the Bakehouse Cafe there, where the baker won the silver award in 2014 for his steak and cheese pie in NZ. It was a busy, larger little bakery and we got a steak/cheese/bacon pie, a mashed potato stuffed sausage topped with bacon, a lamington for me and a blueberry muffin for Art. Plus the ubiquitous flat white for him and tea for one for me. Boy, I’m going to really miss these little cafes. They are part of the fabric of life here; there’s one in even the smallest of towns. Some better, some worse but all a welcome place to grab a quick bit but it’s way better than the fast food we Americans can’t even get out of our cars for. I am sad that I won’t be having these bakery moments again for a while…. :( Our tab came to $21NZ and it was pretty good. The pie was good, the sausage ok, the lamington good, the muffin not so much, the coffee great and the tea very good. So it was a win.

Back to the camper and we headed on down Hwy. 12 to the area known as the Kauri Coast. The kauri trees are huge forest trees that were logged here almost till gone. Their huge straight trunks were/are highly prized by Maori for canoes, whites for masts for ships and furniture. Luckily, they realized they were getting gone and have restricted their harvest and declared some of the forest up here national areas for their protection. We drove some twisty, turny roads again today to get there. It was a beautiful drive though and the rain held off so we had a good drive although it was work for Art. About 2:30 we arrived at the area we were heading to in the forest where the oldest kauri in NZ stands, Father of the Forest. He is the second largest living kauri tree in NZ and the oldest with an estimated age of 2,000 years. The largest kauri is here too, called Lord of the Forest. His trunk girth is 13.77 meters; trunk height is 17.68 meters and total height of 51.2 meters. He is supposed to be mammoth and breath-taking. I wouldn’t know. When we pulled up to park there were workmen there and one walked up to us to say the trail to the big trees was closed. GYP!! All that work to get there and probably my only chance to see these wonders and they’re CLOSED!!! Something about putting in a footwash to stop the spread of kauri die-back disease. So I guess I shouldn’t feel bad since it is for a good cause, and I didn’t rend my clothes off or pull my hair out but I was deeply disappointed….

We drove onwards then, no other choice. Did see some other kauris in the forest as we drove on and they are a massive kind of tree for sure. Even pulled over at a pullout and got a good look at a pretty big one. Then it was more twisting roads as we kept on southward, finally hooking back up with Hwy. 1. It was a nice drive although long and we enjoyed some music, talk about our possible RV, and how we were lucky the rain stayed gone today. However, it must have heard us because as we neared our chosen camping spot for the day, some showers came back. After a small mishap of choosing a wrong turn just before the right turn caused a mess because it was a no exit, one way, no place to turn around wrong turn, we made it to Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth. It’s a small local museum with some historical stuff and a large 800 year old kauri tree that allows freedom camping overnight in their parking lot. We pulled in right at 6pm; no one was there. So we parked in a spot and looked it over in the mist; their kauri was rightly impressive and we could get close enough to actually touch it which was neat.

Closed up our windows and I turned on the oven to bake our remaining frozen Coupland’s mince pie for Art and the Coupland’s curry sausage roll for me. Ate the golden kiwis I had and they were delicious. It was the customary last night, eat up all the odds and ends feast. I had a Royal Gala apple; it was no Smitten. Art ate some cookies too and it was a fine enough dinner. No one came in to join us in this hidden away corner of NZ all night so we had it all to ourselves. Rain showers on the roof off and on all night as we packed up a little, sad faces all around. Did some reading and then turned in early at 10:30.

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