The fourth trip to New Zealand #11 – Travel stories

Wake up at the Tapotupotu and sand surfing

After a short night, we got out of bed again at sunrise. Situated in the valley there is a beautiful sunrise at the water and with a view to the sea.

After a short breakfast we said goodbye to Tina and went together with Zoe to the Te Paki Sand Dunes. Our goal for today, to try sandboarding and enjoy the good weather.


Zoe at the Te Paki Sand Dunes

Zoe at the Te Paki Sand Dunes


At the Sand Dunes we borrowed two sandboards and climbed up the dune. In the beginning we slid down the dune with a lot of caution and respect. A great fun and quite adrenaline loaded. You can see more about it here in the short YouTube video.



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The short one or two hours that we actually wanted to spend there turned into a total of four or five hours. It was so much fun and so exhausting was climbing up the ever-recurring dune. The pictures also show how much fun we had. And yes, it was great.

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Covered with fine sand, on all parts of the body, sand in the ears and also in the eyes we went back to the car and then on to Spirits Bay. The campsite is much further away from the road, but it is great situated and perfect for a little rest. Only a few tourists make the detour to Spirits Bay, because it is only accessible via Gravel Road.


Philipp, Zpe & Myself at Spirits Bay

Philipp, Zpe & Myself at Spirits Bay


Spirits Bay and the way back to Ahipara

At the Spirits Bay we walked a little bit along the beach, because at the Cape Reinga there is no direct access to the beach and at the Tapotupotu camping site we left too early to walk extensively barefoot through the sand.


90 Mile Beach and the Van

90 Mile Beach and the Van


Because we also got along very well with Zoe after half a day, we drove together to Ahipara to the good camping site. The sand has to go away and Zoe asked us if we want to celebrate her birthday with her.

One more reason to stop spontaneously one night longer in Ahipara and a small birthday party can't be refused. Especially not if you are invited personally.


After we arrived at the campground and washed off our sand supply, Zoe went to the kitchen to bake a cake, a delicious birthday cake for the night.


During this time, I walked around the campsite and encouraged some other backpackers to stay in the lounge at night, the more people the more fun for a small birthday party.

Afterwards we had a delicious dinner in the van for the three of us and a little nap for me, because I know that I am not used to stay up late anymore.


The birthday night

Around 22 o'clock we moved into the lounge, with snacks and a good mood. Some other backpackers were still there and so it was a funny evening with nice people. Right on time at midnight we sang Happy Birthday from the top of our voices and gave Zoe a good start into the new year. Also, the cake was delicious and after some time even Sandy the campsite owner joined us, having a little present and a bottle of wine in his luggage.


Birthday girl Zoe

Birthday girl Zoe


Bit by bit everybody said goodbye, but Sandy was tireless and so it went to bed very late, almost when the sun already rose again.


After a short night I was already early again, my body is simply adjusted to this travel rhythm of getting up early and going to bed early.


Departure from Ahipara to the east coast

From Ahipara we set off along State Highway 10 (SH10) towards the east coast. At every nice spot we stopped, took pictures and just spent a relaxed day. Philipp got directly into her van with the excuse of Zoe's birthday and was on the road with her all day as a passenger.


View on the Bays

View on the Bays


In the afternoon we made a detour to Taupo Bay, a gem and really super great location. With a view of the sea we parked and enjoyed the sun. In the evening we had a date with Martin and went for Indian food in a small town on the highway.


Taupo Bay

Taupo Bay


At a beautiful sleeping place at the beach we went to sleep in peace and quiet, again late, and experienced a great sunrise over the sea. According to Zoe a very good start into her new year.


Along the beaches and bays of the Bay of Islands

Along the bays and beaches, we drove the next day, every detour we took and explored. We also did the hike to St. Pauls Rock, but were surprised by bad weather. Fortunately, showers here in New Zealand often pass by as fast as they come. So, we stayed in the shade of the rock for 10 minutes and then hiked to the top of St. Pauls Rock.


St. Pauls Rock

St. Pauls Rock


From there you have a great panoramic view of the sea and the bay as well as the surrounding forests and meadows.


An instagram like view from the van

An instagram like view from the van


In Paihia we met a French backpacker named Charlotte and had a coffee together at the beach front. So many exciting stories and so many beautiful places experienced today, I can't get up every single one. But I can generally recommend the route along SH10 and the Tourist Route. This route passes a lot of nice places less quickly.


One night in Paihia

Due to lack of time for searching and lack of alternative, we have placed ourselves in Paihia on a place where we could not find a Freedom Camping Forbidden sign. Unfortunately, this spot was right next to the road, but at night only very few cars drive along there. So, we had again a place to sleep directly at the sea and spent a quiet night, once a little less late than in the previous nights.

The next morning, we are surprised, because when we wake up there are a lot of cars on the parking lot and it is a permanent coming and going to recognize.


To get to the bottom of the cause Philipp gets out and looks for the reason for the traffic. He comes back laughing, because only 5 meters behind us a coffee to go salesman has built up his van and that's why the customers come so diligently to our parking lot.

With our two cups we go over and get a delicious cappuccino and ask the seller how long he has this place in his portfolio. Over 7 years he already comes to this parking lot every morning during the week, that's why there are so many regular customers. Very impressed we go back to the van and sit down in the warm morning sun.


From Paihia we slowly drive on towards Whangarei. For a short hike we stop at the parking lot of Urquhart’s Bay and walk leisurely the way to Smugglers Bay. I was here with Kathi before and would like to see how it looks like here. Not much has changed, but it is still a great place and you can still see some world war bunkers here.


Whangarei Falls and an overnight stay at the harbour

After we came back from Smugglers Bay, we made a small stop at the supermarket and Whangarei Falls. The Whangarei Falls were the first New Zealand waterfalls I visited in 2016.


View on smugglers bay

View on smugglers bay


At the harbour at Parua Bay you are allowed to sleep on a certain place, so we look for a nice place and park next to each other. After a delicious dinner we all go to bed early, the last days were exhausting for everyone and the lack of sleep wants to be fought a little bit.


The Waipu Caves and Piroa Falls

From our comfortable overnight stay, we drive to Waipu Cave. In the previous trips I had already explored the Abbey Caves, but left Waipu Cave out. This should change now, because I have heard extremely good things about Waipu Cave. I also want to take some great photos.

So, I pack my waterproof backpack with camera and tripod, put on my headlamp and follow the others into the cave. The entry into Waipu Cave is pleasantly flat and only after about 5 meters you have to cross the water. Barefoot a really stony affair, but still better than messing up your own shoes here with water and mud. The head lamp does a good service and after 15 meters we are already so deep in the cave that we don't see any daylight anymore.


The glow-worms are already impressive in the front part, unfortunately, after another 10 metres the track becomes much more demanding and the water deeper, so I don't explore the cave any further. But I could take some great photos. Not so easy if there are always people coming in or out of the cave with light.


Waipu cave glowworms

Waipu cave glowworms


The last evening in threes

After a great day with many discoveries, we went to a paid camping site again in the evening. A hot shower and a delicious dinner later we toasted to a great time, because our ways will separate again from here on.

My way leads to Auckland, the van needs some minor inspections and ideally a buyer. Philipp gets into the car with Zoe and travels on with her.

With a game of Yahtzee, we end our time together and are happy about all the great experiences we had.


Julian, Philipp & Zoe

Julian, Philipp & Zoe


The next morning Philipp starts packing early in the morning, because check out at the campground is at 10 am and everything has to be ready by then. It is not easy with all the things that are hidden in the van at different places.

When it is finished, we decide that we cannot separate from each other yet. That's why we drive to the Mangawhai Heads and stroll along the beach. When dolphins still appear in the sea, we know that now it is getting serious. Time to say goodbye to each other. And so, Philipp and Zoe drive on while I relax and drive slowly to Auckland.


Car cleaning and arrival in Auckland

Since my plan is to offer my car at the Car Fair in Ellerslie tomorrow, I clean and vacuum my van. Impressive how clean it can be and the white paint almost shines.

After this compulsory work is done, I pick out a pizzeria, get a pizza and stand quite relaxed with my van overlooking the beach.


The next morning, I leave early at 7am from my sleeping place for Ellerslie, but when I arrive the Car Fair is already well stocked with cars and vans for sale. So, I have to park my van at a different place and have only one interested party over the whole time, but in the end, he doesn't show any deeper interest because of the price.


Another meeting with Charlotte

So, after I didn't succeed at the Car Fair, I meet Charlotte again, because she is now in Auckland as well.

Together we drive to Eastern Beach in Auckland and enjoy the sun. The weather is just great and so there is enough for short hostels and t-shirts.

In the evening I drive to Isa and her husband, I already know the two German emigrants from my Working Holiday in 2017 and we have a date for dinner. When I arrive, I am offered an overnight accommodation, which I accept with thanks. So, I can recharge my equipment and also leave a backpack with Isa and pick it up later.

Great to have such a network of friends and acquaintances in such a great country. Relaxed I go to bed early and enjoy the luxury of a large and comfortable bed.


Travel period and interesting facts

Our fourth New Zealand trip took place from 15.08.2019 – 13.11.2019. Without much planning but with a lot of knowledge we explored New Zealand in our own van and got many updates to already existing knowledge. So, we can continue to be a relevant and important source of knowledge for you as a New Zealand interested person. If you want to get information about New Zealand, this blog is available for free.


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