After leaving Whatuwhiwhi, we decided to visit some more of the beaches on the Karikari Peninsula. Certain spots came highly recommended by locals and other visitors to Northland. The water is so clear up here, and the sand varies in colour from white-white to yellow. We love examining the different collections of shells that are washed up on each beach. If we were collecting shells, we would already have amassed a truckload!

Matai Bay is north of Whatuwhiwhi and is a popular holiday camping spot. A little bit further out of the way, Karikari Beach looks due north to the Pacific Ocean, providing a stronger surf for those interested in riding the waves.

On the way from the carpark, the girls played with long feather-duster plants. Aisha declared that she was a soldier and stood guard on the track, trying (unsuccessfully) to prevent us from passing by without paying appropriate tribute. We took a long walk down the deserted beach, picking up shells and chasing each others’ footprints. With this being a cooler time of year, the days aren’t warm enough to entice us into the waves. However, the girls always seem to enjoy playing in the sand and collecting things from along the track.

Our next stop was Puheke Beach which features a high, grassy headland that looks back along Karikari Beach. The girls spent most of their time cracking macadamia nuts from Johnny’s house and climbing over some great rocks. The wind was strong and shook the truck, so we drove around looking for a more sheltered spot to spend the night.

Karikari Beach, April 2011
Looking at Karikari Beach from Puheke.

At Rangiputa, we camped in a reserve at the very edge of the bay. We could see the Aupouri Peninsula across the water, and the girls liked the variety of rock pools and flat sand for their imaginative play.

Both Aisha and Brioni hurt their feet here. Brioni stepped on a sea urchin (a Maori delicacy known as kina), and Aisha cut her toes on some sharp shells. For a while it looked as if our usual beach walks would be hampered by the two hopping girls, but we discovered that distraction is a wonderful painkiller!

Aisha and Brioni playing on the beach, April 2011
We spent a couple days at Rangiputa, digging in the sand and examining the beautiful shells.

One morning early, Delaney woke up with a full nappy. David rose to get her and take her out of the truck before she disturbed the rest of the family, only to poke his head back into the truck and call out, “If you want to see dolphins, they’re out here at the moment!”

Dolphins at Rangiputa, April 2011
One morning, a pod of dolphins swam into the bay, circling past us for almost an hour as they chased their breakfast.

We enjoyed a beautiful dawn, watching the dolphins frolicking in the water as they swam in and out of Rangaunu Harbour. It was a privilege to be so close to a wild pod, and we’re thankful for the timing of all the events (even that pooey nappy!) that made the show possible!

Spending time camping on the beaches is peaceful. We fall into the rhythm of rising with the sun and going to bed when it is dark. Many of the beach reserves prohibit fires, so we haven’t been cooking on fires like we used to do in Australia, but we’re still hoping to find a place that allows it soon!