In cheerful spirits we continue driving north. At first we drive to the little A H Reed Memorial Kauri Park (from Mill Rd turn right into Whareora Rd) which is only 3 kms from the city. You walk partly on a boardwalk which is in the tree tops and it's nice and calm with fern trees and other huge ferns, totaras and some kauri trees. The first three kauri we marvel at are really impressive. The trunk is gigantic and feels like cool, smooth stone. We definitely want to see the true giants of the forest in Waipoua Kauri Forest on our continuing journey. The scent in the forest is spicy. The smell! Sometimes the smell of flowers is so intense that I think there's somebody around wearing a strong perfume.
Stop at Oakura Bay · more Oakura pictures
Again we're following SH1 and then the scenic Russel Rd which turns right off SH1 at Whakapara to the Bay of Islands. On the way we experience variable kinds of vegetation, cows under palms, narrow roads surrounded by native bush, green hills, gnarled and surreal looking trees in large meadows. We have a break at Oakura Bay. The road leads directly along the beach and you can simply park there. After a beach walk we make coffee and sit outside at a wooden table, writing travel diary. That's when we have our first acquaintance with the sandflies. Indeed, they don't come in swarms but they go straight for our feet and socks can't stop them.
The Christ Church in historic Russell · more Bay of Islands pictures
Next we visit historic Russell in the Bay of Islands. One of the historic buildings is Christ Church, the oldest surviving church in New Zealand, built in 1836. In the little cemetery in front of the church, the interesting inscriptions on the old gravestones remind of all the people resting here: Māori, early settlers, whale catchers, sailors. The small church looks bright, homely and comfortable inside: wooden floors and furniture cushions on the benches with colorful pictures of kiwi and rainbows.
We cross the Bay of Islands on a Fullers ferry boat. You don't have to wait too long for it, it's like taking a bus. As we're leaving, the sun comes out again – so at least we get to see the brilliant colours while crossing the bay. We take SH10 to Doubtless Bay (which got it's name from Captain Cook who decided it was doubtless that it was a bay). We park at Coopers Beach and it's gorgeous! A beach like one out of a pirate movie! A golden stripe of powder sand, the turquoise blue water laps gently onto the beach and the sun is still shining. Far it's full length of 2.5 km the beach is surronded by mighty pohutukawa. The trees lie on the beach with their large gnarly branches. They make a shady place to sit down and enjoy the scenery.
Heavenly Coopers Beach · more Doubtless Bay pictures
After an extensive beach walk and a dramatic sunset we decide to stay here overnight. There's a little carpark right above the beach. When you find a place like this you know you are lucky to have a campervan.