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Oct 16
Mon

A reliable fish at Goat Island Beach and shopping XXL in Whangarei

A nordic walker welcomes the morning with powerful singing, what a wonderful atmosphere! The result of a request at Kawau Kat Cruises is that the vessels to the bird island go only from Wednesday to Sunday and that you should make a booking by phone before. Maybe we'll do that on the way back south and come here again. After the breakfast and a walk – it's low tide now and the beach is walkable – we continue following SH1 north to Leigh. Our destination is Goat Island Beach.

Gulf Harbour in Whangaparaoa Getting awake at Gulf Harbour on Whangaparaoa Peninsula · more Whangaparaoa pictures more pictures

The first marine reserve of New Zealand was established around Goat Island in 1975. The 547 hectares area spans Cape Rodney to Okakari Point. At the carpark we are welcomed by begging ducks, sparrows and seagulls. There's also rain which we simply ignore and it drops off when we go down to the beach. Unfortunately, without sunlight the water isn't as bright blue and turquoise as I'd hoped for. Nevertheless the beach with the black sand is gorgeous. Huge tree trunks are lying in the sand and there are lots of very small shells which look like shiny polished buttons with spirals on them. I don't see these kind of shells on any other beach again.

We walk to the right, over the rocks and hope to see the snapper there, because Lonely Planet says:

“Walk to the right over the rocks and you usually see the snapper (the big fish with blue dots and fins), blue mamao and stripy parore swimming around.”

We can't see anything but water. The book is an older edition and who knows what the snapper is doing today. But suddenly the whole fish gang is surfacing – just as described – and hoping for some food. We didn't take anything with us, because it's forbidden to feed both birds and fish. So we sneakily throw some leaves into the water. The fish flip to the surface at once. It's fun watching this colourful hustle and bustle. We spotted the following birds: Red billed Gulls whom we see at every harbour and beach from now on, Variable Oystercatchers, Tuis and some Pied Shags nesting in the Pohutukawa trees and feeding the offspring. A beautiful excursion. It must be like paradise in summer when the water is warm and the pohutukawas are in red blossom.

Snapper at Goat Island Beach The curious Snapper · more Goat Island Beach pictures more pictures

We say good bye to this beautiful place and drive back to the highway via Pakiri and Whangaripo Valley Rd. The road goes uphill, is wet and partly gravel – sort of difficult with our monster vehicle ;-) We're heading for Whangarei now. The road leads through native bush with tree ferns and mangroves and then, in contrast, along green hilly fields with sheep and cows. Both landscapes are absolutely typical of New Zealand. At the i-SITE in Whangarei we buy books for identifying birds and trees. Besides this, you get a handy complimentary town map which is absolutely adequate as an overview (if you ask for it). It's 5.00 pm and i-sites closing time, nevertheless we get some friendly advice and they tell us the way to the camp site. Alpha Holiday Park at Tarewa Rd is nearby and central. We get a hearty welcome and a powered site on the motorhome court for $22. We walk to town and look for a Foodtown supermarket but have to put up with PAK'n SAVE, a large discounter store. The shelves reach to the ceiling (which is very high), the price labels are as big as posters and nothing seems appealing to us, so we only buy the most necessary and wonder a little what about Whangarei City should be so smashing. We haven't seen anything special yet.

On the way to Whangarei On the way to Whangarei · more Whangarei pictures more pictures

At the campground we have our first shower in 5 days – long, hot and delightful. Unfortunately, we don't sleep well tonight, rain is pouring down and pattering noisy onto the vehicle roof. Since we've arrived in New Zealand it's been cloudy and raining on and off and we're getting a little frustrated ...

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