Northland: Kerikeri

botanic gardenStaying in a subtropical garden was a lucky decision. It was only four hours, but a world away from Auckland city. Arriving in the dark, our cottage had a spooky feel, but we woke to sunshine and lush plants. I spent most of Friday exploring the garden and reading on our lanai. We also completed the relatively flat tramp to Rainbow Falls and the Fairy Pools.

Having a car allowed us to explore further afield than previous trips to the Bay of Islands. One rainy day was spent driving to the west coast to see Tane Makuta, Lord of the Forest, the country’s largest kauri tree.

When the sun was shining we drive north to Matauri Bay Beach. If it was 10 degrees warmer this would have been the perfect spot to swim in calm, clear water. Instead we walked in the soft sand and watched paddle boarders and small children braving the cool temps. Further along the scenic tourist route we found the famous Mangonui Fish Shop. We stopped here briefly on our bus tour in January 2014, but did not have the chance to wander around the idyllic, beachside town. This time, after making the compulsory and delicious stop for fish & chips, we ambled along the main street watching the sea birds and enjoying ice cream. We even saw a stingray cruising gracefully in the shallow water.

Surprisingly there were several activities on my to do list that we didn’t get to: wine tasting, visiting Makana chocolate factory, and checking out Aroha Island. Once we arrived in Kerikeri time relaxed into a slower pace. I have no regrets about not rushing around to get everything done. Kerikeri is a place we will happily return to. Maybe next time we’ll get to these things, or maybe we’ll again find ourselves content sitting on our lanai watching the birds fly around in the rain.

kerikeri collage 2

Dates:22-26 October 2015
Travel with: Allen
Weather: sunny and beautiful Friday & Sunday; all day rain Saturday
Accommodation: Set among beautiful gardens, Cottage 5 at Wharepuke Subtropical Accommodation was larger than our apartment. It felt like a retreat since it was constructed in a way that you cannot see your neighbors even though they were not far away. It had a large, covered lanai, perfect for soaking up the morning sun.

  • window shopping in Kerikeri
  • stroll through the Wharepuke Subtropical Garden
  • 2-hour Rainbow Falls and Fairy Pools bushwalk
  • Old Packhouse Market
  • drove 1-hour to the west coast and visited Tane Mahuta, NZ’s largest kauri tree, 2000+ years old; and braved the weather to do the 15-minute Arai Te Utu Heritage Walk
  • Sunday market
  • Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church
  • Matauri Bay Beach
  • relaxing in the sunshine at our cottage

Food & Drink:

  • Aga Turkish Cuisine, Warkworth was the perfect pit stop in a cute town outside Auckland (!)
  • takeaway breakfast & pies from Kerikeri Bakehouse Cafe
  • lunch at Zest Cafe
  • Aegean Pizzeria, delicious takeaway to enjoy on our lanai (!)
  • Old Packhouse Market (!)
  • Cinema Cafe, wish we’d found this place sooner
  • ‘World Famous’ Mangonui Fish Shop
  • ice cream from 4 Square, Mangonui
  • Little King, Milford on our way back into AKL served an impressive breakfast with no holiday surcharge (!!)

Transportation: Hiring the car from Hertz was a hassle compared to other car hires in Auckland city. In order to both drive we both had to be present to sign the form; they did not have an eftpos machine and would not allow Allen to use my credit card.