Today we headed south to take a loop road to the little town of Matapouri to see the Pacific Ocean and a few waterfalls. Our first stop was to get a cappuccino and a chai latte from “That Coffee Bloke” who sets up his mobile coffee shop at the parking area at Te Haumi river along the coastal walkway. We met a gentleman walking his dog on the walkway last week who mentioned that the locals who walk the track stop there for their morning caffeine and confab to solve the world’s problems!On down the curvy, winding roads, until we came down a hill and out onto the coast at Sandy Bay. We watched several surfers trying to catch the waves.
Around the next bend we reached Whale Bay Walk parking area and found a spot. It was pretty busy, being Labor Day, with lots of families out to enjoy the first holiday of the summer season! We headed on the walk out to the lookout. At the beginning of the trail there are several huge trees covered in what look like bromeliads, but I don’t know what they are except exotic looking!At the lookout we could see way out across the ocean to distant islands. We spotted several sailboats.
Following the trail down from the lookout we were able to access a tiny pebble beach on a small bay. There were two people snorkeling in the bay and I was inspired to at least get my feet wet! It was cold, but refreshing! We then crossed a little sandy spit and came onto Matapouri Bay and a beautiful beach!
The trail looped back to our starting point and we enjoyed our picnic lunch at a sheltered spot on the bluff above Whale Bay. The least windy spot we’ve had lunch so far! We continued our exploration on the loop road that led to Whangarei, pronounced FANG-a-ray. In Maori ‘wh’ is pronounced with the ‘f’ sound. We took a series of side roads to Taheke Waterfall, then a short hike to the top of the falls. Unfortunately it was not photogenic from that angle. So here’s a picture of the bridge over the Taheke river.
On to the second waterfall, Whangarei Falls, very close to the city of Whangarei (population about 100,500). The parking lot was filled! Lots of people, but the hike to the bottom of the falls was very pleasant.
We completed the loop road and headed back north to home. We grilled some burgers and enjoyed them with the chutneys our host gave us from yesterday’s happy hour! An onion relish, a pickle relish, and some beet chutney, or as they say, beetroot chutney. Absolutely delicious.