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New Zealand - November 2017


Fox Glacier – Hokitika – Greymouth – Punakaiki – Kaikoura (698 km and 6 days) 

After leaving the glacier’s region by beautiful weather, we crossed again a bad weather front in Hari Hari, this time coming from the North. We decided to head to Hokitika Gorge across the inland route. It’s a good opportunity to see the real countryside of the West Coast: tens of kilometers of farming and cows everywhere, small rural villages and narrow roads ... nothing else and mobile network is not a given. The gorge (actually only a narrowing of the river) has incredibly deep turquoise milky water.
Hokitika itself is a nice small town with great cafés and a wild beach with black sand and pebbles, huge driftwood, great mountain views and vivid sunsets. Along the beach, it’s not uncommon to find Pounamu (greenstone or jade).
Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and the only attraction appears to be the local brewery, Monteith's. Most beers are quite “watery” for our taste: not the mark of a craft brewery. Still, they have a couple of drinkable beers like the double hopped IPA and the barrel aged Porter.
The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are a popular tourist attraction that merit a stop. The heavily eroded limestone formations resemble stacks of pancakes layered on top of each other.
North of Punakaiki, the seascape is of incredible beauty with long wild, untouched beaches. The Tasman Sea constantly pounds the rugged coastline and the coastal route SH6 definitely offers spectacular views.
The weather is now quite stable and warm. The spring has definitely taken over from the winter. This is the perfect time for our whale watching cruise in Kaikoura. Just offshore of Kaikoura, a deep undersea canyon provides a unique habitat for abundant sea-life. Sperm Whales are prolific around Kaikoura because of this deep trench ensuring an ample food supply of Squid, Groper, Ling and Shark.
We set off on a marvelous day with deep blue sky to chase the giant sperm whales. Around ten miles south from Kaikoura we encounter a male sperm whale! Incredible, the whale is quite relaxed and swimming with us for a while before diving deep into the canyon for about 45 minutes. We were so close… The Dusky Dolphins are real jumpers and can have your head spinning if you watch them for too long...

A walk, directly on the rocky basement of the Kaikoura Peninsula at low tide, is a must! It’s home to several fur seal and seabird colonies but also home to our best lunch recommendation: the food truck along the Fyffe Quay (Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk). It offers fantastic fresh grilled fish, seafood and crayfish. This is our second excellent fish eating place so far in New Zealand (of note: both of our best fish recommendations are not restaurants but very simple places!).

On 14 November 2016, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Kaikoura and uplifted by 2 meters the coast. While the town has now largely recovered, the roads to and from Kaikoura are still suffering from that impactful quake. The coastal highway 1 to the North is still closed and the inland highway 70 has tens of road reconstruction works, making it cumbersome to travel through. After 16.00, you will notice that the population in town is doubling! All the construction workers are arriving in their orange dresses and white helmets, occupying all strategic places like supermarkets and wine bars!


Kaikoura – Murchison – Blenheim – Picton (522 km and 4 days) 

We left Kaikoura on the panoramic SH 70 crossing a magnificent landscape: a mix of Iceland, Ireland and Jura. We then entered the paradise of the world famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Region through the SH 63. 

The very first vineyard we see is turquoise labeled: Matua, a very well known producer in Europe. From there, it’s an endless stretch of vineyards until Blenheim, the heart of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Our first wine tasting is at Whiter Hills followed by an incredible tour at Brancott Estate. The cellar is overlooking Brancott Vineyard, the site of the first Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough which thanks to this fruity Sauvignon Blanc put Marlborough on the map. Wow! Brancott not only has fantastic wines but located top hill has a marvelous scenery – endless vines in all directions with the hills on the horizon. And we’re told that on a sunny and clear day you can catch a glimpse of the North Island. You don’t want to leave this place … Among their excellent wine selection, we’ve discovered an amazing Sauvignon Gris – that’s not a mistake, it’s not Sauvignon Blanc but really Sauvignon Gris. There are only 3 producers in NZ of Sauvignon Gris. The estate is owned by the French group Pernod Ricard.
Our next and final stop for the day is at Framingham Wines with a very good selection too, especially the Riesling’s, the oldest vines in Marlborough. Here, we’ll camp overnight in their vineyards.
We go to bed with the full moon on the vineyards and wake up in the morning with the sun on the vines … that’s life!
Our first winery for the day is the Yealands Estate Winery located in the Awatere Valley. It’s New Zealand most coastal vineyard. On this unique site, the vines battle against the elements of a cool climate, low rainfall, high sunshine, cool nights and strong winds. These challenging growing conditions produce thick-skinned small berries with high juice ratio of rich and intense flavors.
It’s a very large estate of thousands of hectares where sustainability is a way of life. From the miniature baby-doll sheep to the over friendly chickens, the animals assist with keeping the vegetation down, reducing pest but also providing a healthy dose of fertilizer. The estate is making its own compost with their own grape marc combined with mussel shells, untreated bark, sawdust … used on the vine rows to reduce irrigation requirements amongst others things. The largest solar panel installation in NZ can be seen there producing energy for the estate. A rarity for the vineyards in NZ, here you can self drive around the immense property and the vines on the white road tour. A comprehensive map is given at the cellar. You have incredible views overlooking the Cook Straight and the Mt Tapuae-o-Unuku. It’s a fabulous estate set up like a botanical garden. The wines are good but the single vineyard Pinot Noir and the Noble Sauvignon Blanc (late harvest) are outstanding.

Next on the list is Rock Ferry. Don’t be fooled by a first impression when you arrive. There, you have a beautiful cosy and charming atmosphere – a favorite spot for the locals it seems.
We stay for lunch. The restaurant serves delicious, savory and up to scale food.
The wines are very innovative assemblages and there is a rich grape variety. All of the wines are above average especially the Grüner Veltliner and the Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc called the “Orange” wine, served at room temperature. That’s it for today! We can’t take more.

Another beautiful day within the vineyards. Alan Scott is our first wine tasting. Well, the wine tasting is a bit on the lower side with only 3 wines tasted out of the entire selection. However, it’s the first Sauvignon Blanc we taste that has the expected world famous Marlborough taste for once. The Riesling and especially the Rosé were very good.
We continue with a visit to the Moa Brewery owned by the son of Alan Scott located just next door. They have different varieties of handcrafted beers The beer tasting is disappointing with only lagers, lambics and pale ales that were very watery. The best beers are not available for tasting so you need to buy them. There is a very good Imperial Stout and a Belgian Tripel. Beware they are more expensive at the brewery than at the supermarkets :-(

We then move to a wonderful location within the vines few kilometers away from the NZ spy base (Satellite Communications Monitoring Station). The southern most vineyard of the Malborough Region: Spy Valley wines. The wines are all exceptional (from the Pinot Gris to the Gewürtztraminer) and the tasting is a top end personalized service with a total of 9 wines tasted. They’re the only one in the region to make an incredible ice wine out of Sauvignon Blanc.
It’s still a secret but Spy Valley wines are exquisite!!! 

Next, a Swiss wine maker: Hans Herzog Estate. We have a nice lunch at the relaxed Bistro before our wine tasting. The specialty is zero residual sugar in the wines. So, if you like dry wines or bubbles, that one’s for you. Unfortunately, we were not able to experience the Gourmet restaurant, Michelin style with 7 courses menu paired with the estate wines as it’s only open for dining ...
Last but not least, at the Malborough farmer’s market you can find stunning and fully ripened goat cheeses even better than in France and several wineries are producing EVOO of the highest quality and taste!  

If you have the chance to pass by, you need to stay at least a week in Marlborough to have the time to visit a minimum of wineries out the 140 (4 wineries at the most per day as your palate gets saturated and the level of alcohol rises …) but most importantly, to enjoy the wines with a delicious meal at lunch or dinner in those wonderful settings!


North Island

Wellington – Martinsborough – Napier (410 km and 5 days) 

The crossing of the Cook Strait with Interislander Ferry was windy but quiet, which is unusual as the Strait is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world and normally it’s like being on a roller coaster. After the calm Kerguelen Sea, now the calm Cook Strait: no excitement in sight!

Some of New Zealand’s most premium wine is made in the Wairarapa Valley (Martinsborough, Gladstone and Masterton). The picture here is quite different from Marlborough: no immense vineyards and huge wine-producing-factories but only small vineyards (mostly the size of a football field and family owned) and boutique wineries. Everything is on the small scale and you get to know all the people in a couple of days. We stayed two days in Martinborough. A very nice small town of 1500 people, with a large number of vineyards producing wines and more than 20 cellar doors. Almost all the vineyards are in thin ribbons around the northern and eastern sides of the town and we could easily walk to them (the way back however was more difficult! Guess why...). The Pinot Noir of this region is for us clearly better than the one in Marlborough or in Central Otago. In fact, Masterton was the first region in New Zealand to produce pinot noir in 1883. 
Summa Summarum: The wine quality in Martinborough is for us more elevated than in Marlborough, from the Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris to the Pinot Noir it’s better … less quantity and more quality. We tested Alana, Escarpment Vineyard, Luna Estate, Palliser Wines, Schubert Wines, Tirohana Estate and Grava. To mention some very particular fine wines like the Rosé 100% Pinot Meunier (Luna Estate), Tribianco made from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Müller-Thurgau (Schubert Wines), Dolce Late Harvest 100% Müller-Thurgau (Schubert Wines, of note the only Müller-Thurgau grapes in NZ!), Late Harvest of botrytised Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc (Alana) as well as our best Pinot Noir Marion's Vineyard (Schubert Wines) 14% ABV, 3 weeks maceration and 18 months in barriques and full-bodied: very different from the other Pinot Noir !

This lovely town is also home to the Martinborough Brewery with excellent handcrafted beers! All of them with no exception! No “dirt water” here but high class brewed beers especially the dark ones (Imperial Stout and Black Nectar).
The Wairarapa Region has not only excellent wines, beers, cheese and gastronomic restaurants but also a very rough and remote coast. It’s a very scenic and stunning drive to Cape Palliser with its wild windswept coast on one side and sheer cliffs on the other. One cannot believe to be in New Zealand and only a few km from Wellington. It’s like to be on an abandoned island ... The lighthouse at the end of the gravel road has 252 steps on a steep wooden stairs … a must! The largest North Island fur seal colony lies just across the lighthouse and you can get incredibly close to these mammals, for once not aggressive. It’s a nice but very windy day with gales of 120-140 km, driving a light camper at 100 km/h is quite entertaining …

Today is another magnificent day with deep blue sky and only a weak breeze, perfect to drive again to the coast, this time to enter the Kingdom of Mordor! 
We walked to the spectacular Putangirua Pinnacles … where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli ride to meet the Army of the Dead (wink to the Lord of the Rings aficionados)… We took the stream-bed trail to the pinnacles and were rapidly in the middle of this huge labyrinth of magic towers … it’s a surreal landscape! We then climbed steeply to the standard lookout. Indeed, in New Zealand you’re allowed to hike even in the areas at risk for falling rocks like the pinnacles. This trail is graded easy, a nice walk in the river-bed with limited signposting … a simple T3 in CH (out of 6) but in Australia, it would be grade 4 difficult (out of 5) ... totally different worlds...
After the incredible view of the Lord of the Rings Pinnacles, we went to Lake Ferry which is actually a lagoon. It’s another incredible natural wonder: an immense and never-ending black beach with a green water lagoon violently falling down into the sea at low tide! 

On our way back, we stopped again for a wine tasting in Martinborough before proceeding to the next wine region: Gladstone. We visited here the small but wonderful Gladstone Vineyard and we also stayed there overnight with a fantastic Viognier and a Rosé made of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir … quietly sleeping in the middle of a vineyard alone…

Today, we arrived in the lovely town of Napier (Hawke’s Bay). Hawke’s Bay is the food bowl of New Zealand … vineyards, orchards (apple, pear and stone fruits), fertile plains and high country pastures. 
As New Zealand’s oldest and second largest wine growing region (200 vineyards, 76 wineries and 32 cellar doors), Hawke’s Bay is known for its full-bodied reds, with 88% of the country’s production of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes. Finally, we can drink real red wines! 
Napier Port is the North Island's second largest port, critical for commercial fishing, wool, fruits, wine, dairy products and frozen meats. 

The rebuild of Napier after the devastating earthquake of 1931 was done in the Art Deco architectural style and today, the town has one of the most complete collection of Art Deco buildings in the world (UNESCO Heritage). It’s hard to describe what you feel walking in those entire streets in the center of town with Art Deco buildings. It seems that you have turned the clock back to the Charleston era!
Moreover, two festivals in 2016 and 2017 brought together 50 internationally renowned artists to paint large scale murals about overfishing, ocean pollution and climate change (https://www.pangeaseed.foundation/sea-walls). These murals have greatly enhanced Napier’s streetscape and besides being amazingly beautiful, they’re full of profound messages!


Napier – Taupo – Whakapapa – Taupo (440 km and 5 days) 

The travel from Napier to Taupo is across green hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and forest. The main attraction is a lookout to view two waterfalls (Waiarua/ Waipunga Falls). Taupo itself is a tourist center as it offers panoramic views over the lake and to the volcanic mountains of the Tongariro National Park to the south. Lake Taupo is actually the caldera of the Taupo Volcano and with 616 km2, it’s the largest lake in New Zealand. Taupo is a center of geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located at several places in the vicinity.
Whakapapa Village (1160 m) on the northern side of Mount Ruapehu (2797 m), is the access to New Zealand’s largest ski area and a good location to start several hikes during the summer time.
In the famous Lord of the Rings’, Mordor: the stronghold of the dark lord Sauron, was filmed in this volcanic area.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the most famous and popular one-day hike in New Zealand. The walk provides a nice view of the most scenic and active volcanic areas of the Tongariro National Park. The total length is 19.4 km and the difficulty is easy. UNESCO-listed for both its natural and cultural heritage, Tongariro National Park is an otherworldly landscape of golden tussock and towering volcanoes made famous by The Lord of the Rings.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing winds up the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (the renowned Mount Doom of Lord of the Rings). It climbs to the Red Crater (1886 m), then drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes and past the Blue Lake. From here, the track descends the northern slope of the Tongariro to the Ketetahi Hut and the nearby hot springs, then down through native forest to the Ketetahi car park. Scenes from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy were filmed here. The more dramatic sections of the hike with the best photos opportunities are up to the Emerald lakes.
After the long walk, we’re so happy to relax one day in the hot pools at Taupo!


Taupo – Rotorua – Waitomo – Miranda – Hot Water Beach – Coromandel – Auckland (770 km and 12 days)

Now, en route to the volcanic center of the island via the Thermal Explorer Highway. First stop outside Taupo is at “Craters of the Moon”, a small valley with about 20 fumaroles. The name of this park is very inviting, however, if you’re used to geothermal landscapes, it’s nothing special: a little bit of steam coming out from smaller craters at a cost of 8 NZD! Forget it, you’ll see better in Rotorua and for free! The public city park in Rotorua are much more spectacular and you’re right in the middle of the fumaroles which are sometimes gigantic in comparison to here.
Next is Orakei Korako (“The place of adorning”), a private volcanic area that has remained almost unchanged for thousands of years. Here in peak wet conditions up to 20 million liters of silica-enriched water per day flow over the Emerald Terrace and into Lake Ohakuri. The terrace continues 35 meters under the lake, which was formed for hydropower generation in 1961. This raised the Waikato River level by 18 meters at Orakei Korako, flooding approximately 200 alkaline hot springs and 70 geysers (about two thirds of the active thermal area). Despite the loss of so many of its thermal features under the artificial lake, Orakei Korako remains the largest geyser field in New Zealand, with up to 35 active geysers. Atop is the Artist’s Palette, a 10,000 m² silica sinter terrace covered with clear blue alkali chloride pools and irregularly erupting geysers. To access the geothermal area you need to take the boat and cross the smaller end of Lake Ohakuri. We had a beautiful sunny day … paramount ingredient for spectacular colors and photos! The park is amazing from the Rainbow terrace to the Artist’s palette where we wandered through a valley of unbelievable colors. Well worth the price paid!
The road to Rotorua is alternating between volcanic geography and refreshing tracts of plantation pine forest.
Finally arrived in Rotorua, the geothermal city of New Zealand! You’ll see steam escaping from everywhere in the city, being it in a garden or the sidewalk! All these with the unmistakeable smell of sulfur...The soothing water, mineral rich muds, traditional massage and indigenous herbs all play a special role in Rotorua. Don’t miss the Kuirau Park, it’s the public city park and it’s more exciting than many private ($$$) geothermal parks … you can walk inside majestic hot pools and fumaroles … without spending a penny!
Rotorua itself is not a nice city, it’s quite large but without a real center and soulless.
Around Rotorua, we visited the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park, which is one of the few parks really focused on volcanic activities and with absolutely colorful and stunning features. You can find innumerable colors of every tint displayed there in pools, lakes, craters, steam vents and sinter terraces. It’s so incredible that nobody would believe it’s true … the pools are of gorgeous deep green, vivid yellow or milky turquoise! We loved the Champagne Pool and its bubbles of carbon dioxide overflowing minerals to create the Artist’s Palette with an amazing variety of ever-changing colors, the Devil’s Bath with its stabilo-like fluorescent yellow-green, making it surreal. The only minus in our view is the very popular Lady Knox Geyser, exploding every day at 10.15! Beware, it’s artificial not a natural Geyser like in Iceland, stimulated with soap in order to rise its boiling water to the sky!
On the way to Putaruru, we discovered a small but fantastic cheesery (Over the Moon). Even better than Talbot Forest in Geraldine, with a great selection of goat, sheep and buffalo cheeses and very ripe for real cheese lovers! They won dozens of medals and trophies from around the world and we can only agree to it.
A few kms south is Tirau, a smaller town very lovely and attractive.
In the late afternoon, we visited the beautiful Marokopa Falls and then down to the sea to the large beach at Marokopa village. The day ended with a fantastic sunset that reminded us of the most beautiful sunsets in the world we saw at Karumba (Queensland, Australia).
The region of Waitomo looks like being in the Jura, green round hills, lush pastures, herds of cows and horses, small farms, eroded limestone cliffs and other karst formations with many caves to explore. Waitomo has two fabulous landscapes, one above ground and the other below. A number of companies are offering exciting caving experiences with abseiling into 100 m deep shafts and black water rafting! A peculiarity of New Zealand’s caves is the presence of glowworms. When at dark in the cave, you will see thousands and thousands of small lights, giving a surreal ambiance.
From Miranda, we started our tour on the Coromandel Peninsula. Contrary to our expectations, the peninsula is very mountainous and the SH 25 is winding up and down all the time, and the usual max speed of 100 km/h is impossible to reach … it reminds us a bit the roads in La Réunion, of course here larger! In Hahei, a short pathway leads you to a picture-perfect beach at Cathedral Cove. It’s arguably one of the most picturesque spots in the Coromandel Peninsula, flooded by tourists from all over the world. To take the typical Cathedral Cove postcard picture from inside the naturally formed archway, you need to wait for the high tide … For us, it was early morning and we avoided the thousands of sun-bathers and swimmers on the our beautiful beach picture!
Hot Water Beach is renowned for its natural hot springs bubbling beneath the sands and popular for digging your own spa pool. A spade or shovel is the must to have accessory there :-)
Coromandel Town is a very lovely village with a lively main street. We decided immediately to stop here for our last night in our camper. Here we discovered, the Coromandel Smoking Company … No, they’re not selling cigars but many exquisite smoked fishes, smoked mussels and smoked scallops … a not to miss stop when in Coromandel! Instead of emptying our fridge for the last night in the camper, we filled it up again! Originally, we had planned ravioli for dinner, then we switched to the smoked fish but everything changed again when we met a group of friendly NZ fishers who caught lots of big snappers … They were so kind that they gave us fresh fish fillets for dinner!! The only part of the menu that did not change was our great Grüner Veltliner 2015 from Rock Ferry! Tomorrow, we are back in the big city, Auckland.

After 2 months in a 4.8 m2 camper and a journey of 7196 km, we decided to stop in a fine dining restaurant for our birthdays! The Grove was our excellent selection: The Grove serves modern New Zealand food with a French twist offering degustation dining that changes with seasonality and market availability. The personalized menu, the world class service and fabulous wine were magical, we had a wonderful evening in this multi awarded restaurant.


Auckland – Whangarei – Paihia – Kerikeri – Opononi – Auckland (745 km and 10 days) 

Driving north from Auckland on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway is quite boring and traffic intense until Whangarei. The first nice places are at Mangawhai Heads and Langs Beach.

Take a bio-break in Kawakawa which has a remarkable and colorful public toilet designed by Austrian artist Hundertwasser. The toilet is the main touristic attraction of this small but lovely town. This public toilet is used by truckers, workers and tourists! Not easy to take non-obscene pictures there but we manage it! Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived in Kawakawa from 1975 until his death in 2000, completed this awesomely decorative and useful toilet in 1999.
The pleasant resort town of Paihia is the main port to visit the Bay of Islands. A short ferry ride brings you to the historic town of Russell. Russell, formerly known as Kororāreka (kororā meaning blue penguin and reka meaning sweet), was the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. Kororāreka developed rapidly as a trading center but soon earned a bad reputation as a community without laws and full of prostitution. It became known as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific"! Russell is now a quiet town, with excellent restaurants and many historical buildings, especially along the waterfront.
Just beyond Paihia we visited Haruru Falls, tumbling down in a nearly perfect horseshoe made of basalt columns. Unfortunately, due to the intense agricultural activities, the waters in the North Island are far from being pristine and crystal clear as in the South Island. The brownish, cloudy and foamy waters are not really inviting for a swim ...

Kerikeri is another very pleasant town in Northland and a popular tourist destination. Kerikeri was the first place in New Zealand where grape vines were planted. Samuel Marsden planted 100 vines on 25 September 1819 and noted in his journal that New Zealand promised to be very favorable to the vine. He was right! Indeed, many boutique vineyards are located around Kerikeri, mostly family owned and very small. We visited Cottle Hill, Ake Ake and Marsden Estate.
Cottle Hill Winery is a small (4 acres) family-owned winery founded in 1996 by Mike and Barbara Webb who sailed from San Diego California aboard their 35ft yacht. Cottle Hill is a casual and relaxed winery experience and you can taste the award-winning wines and enjoy the stunning view. In addition to wines, they have an extraordinary Grappa! A uniqueness in New Zealand! As well as a very good Nocino (walnut liqueur), nearly as tasteful as the one I make!
Just a few minutes’ drive from Kerikeri, Marsden Estate (10 acres) offers a relaxed atmosphere in its courtyard overlooking the lake and vines, with innovative cuisine that showcases the unique flavors of the region. We tested nine wines there and all were very good to excellent. We can highlight the great Viognier 2016 and the exquisite Cavalli 2016 (a blend of pinotage and chambourcin).
Kerikeri is also home to Makana, a boutique chocolatier, crafting all of their products by hand, using only the highest quality and freshest ingredients for amazing truffles (mmm Marlborough Pinot Noir truffles), astounding pralines, intense chocolate dipped ginger, apricot, cherries and other fruits, and many other chocolate temptations!! The gelato is also excellent, competing head-to-head with Geraldine’s Talbot Forest, our favorite gelato so far!
As usual, the best wine regions are populated with many gastronomic restaurants and epicurean specialty shops.

Kaitaia is the northern most town in New Zealand and the last major stop before heading to the ‘top’ of New Zealand.
From Ahipara, we took the west coast drive down to Opononi. The west coast of Northland cannot be more different than the eastern counterpart. The East is touristic, modern and busy while the West is rural, rough and remote. On the east coast we saw tens of service stations fighting for the best fuel price but on our west coast trip, we were at the very last drop of fuel … we had to ask a convenience shop for the next station and it was not obvious to find it. In fact, they used to have the fuel stations on the main streets of the old road! Now, with all the new roads, the stations are somewhere in the middle of the village, mostly behind buildings … only for locals who know … with no signs posted. 

In Opononi, you’ll immediately notice the immense giant sand dunes on the other side of the Hokianga Harbour, reaching up to 200 m. It looks strange … are we still in Kiwi land? Or in the Namib? The view from the Southern Head is simply gorgeous: the ultramarine blue sea, the turquoise harbour, the baby powder white beaches, the charcoal black cliffs and the bright orange peel sand-dunes! … and we managed to have sunshine and cobalt blue sky to admire all this unbelievable scenery.
Nearby, in Koutu, there is a beach where you can see spherical 3-5 meters large boulders (actually concretions formed within a sedimentary rock) like in Moeraki but without the crowd of tourists … you have to walk along mangroves, sand beaches, slippery cliffs and gooey clay for a couple of hours at low tide … and then you are absolutely alone with the giant spherical marbles.





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