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Explore Northland’s beautiful coastline on this three-day walking holiday in New Zealand. On the first day you’ll discover a glorious Pacific Ocean beach, while on days two and three you get to decide which route you fancy following. The walks are all self-guided so you get to go at your own pace, but all food and accommodation is sorted for you.
The real New Zealand may not be inhabited by hobbits, orcs and talking trees, but one thing’s for sure, the landscape is just as magical – unless, perhaps you’re an eight-year-old ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan. Instead, expect to discover footprint-free beaches, ancient forests, and a coastline sculpted with coves. The Whangarei Heads area is rich in wildlife, too. Little blue penguins, pods of dolphins and stingray-hunting orca whales have all been spotted in the waters here. On dry land, meanwhile, look out for the endangered dotterel and oystercatchers.
With three days of self-guided walking with a choice or routes to choose from on days two and three, you get to decide your own highlights. On day one, you’ll take in a stunning stretch of pale golden sands as you walk along Ocean beach. Experienced hikers can unleash the walking poles and sturdy boots on day two with a trek along an ancient Maori trail from Ocean beach to Urquhart Bay. And if you’ve still got the stamina, choose to climb up Mount Manaia on the third day. Whatever walks you choose to do, there’s always someone on hand to pick you up and take you back to camp should your legs decide they’ve had enough.
Keen hikers and nature lovers will probably feel three days just isn’t enough. But the three days you do get are packed full with opportunities to get out and explore the landscape and wildlife. It’s nice, because although all the walks are planned for you, you get to go it alone, so you don’t feel like you’re being mollycoddled. You will be eating tasty food, made from fresh, local ingredients, so you'll get a taste for this part of the world as well. And lastly, you can forget youth hostel-style accommodation - this private lodge is modern and really well kitted out.
My memories of our Bream Head Coastal Walks adventure are of spectacular scenery, luxurious accommodation, fresh gourmet food and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a bit of exertion and a lot of fun.
We’d had a tough couple of months so arrived very tense and stressed. The warm welcome and the excitement of exploring the unexpected luxury of our surroundings, coupled with a glass of wine and delicious nibbles, set the tone for the entire weekend. Enjoying the 180° views over farmland to the ocean beyond, we immediately forgot our worries and set about planning the walks we would do.
Day one dawned with warm spring sunshine for our walk over farmland and along the beach. We were only 3 hours from home but this was a different world. The locals were very friendly, both human and animals, as we wandered over their land and onward to the deserted beach. The sea was so blue and inviting that we abandoned our footwear to paddle our way along the shoreline. The backdrop for the entire day was the spectacular ridgeline that we would be exploring tomorrow.
We were up early on day two and keen to get started, only delayed by the decisions to be made on which of the yummy foods to include in our lunchboxes. It was another beautiful day in paradise, so the shade of the bush was welcome after the hot uphill trek from the beach. We spend a lot of time tramping in the New Zealand bush, but still found ourselves continually stopping to take photos of the truly spectacular rocky outcrops and views beyond. Cheeky fantails joined us on route and a variety of birdlife was heard as we made our way through the bush along the ridge. Our host Claire was there to pick us up at the end of the day with a cool ice cream as reward for our efforts.
A good days fishing for our hosts meant a quick change to the menu that night, with the added choice of ocean fresh fish or the prime Angus beef. Some of us also chose to experience the open air bath to soak those weary muscles, hoping to hear a native kiwi calling in the nearby bush.
For day three we finished off with a climb to the summit of Mount Manaia. A change in the weather made this even more special with the views appearing and disappearing as the mist passed over, and added to the mystic of the spiritual origins of this great landmark.
We couldn’t help looking back in awe as we headed for home, feeling revived, refreshed and truly satisfied from a weekend well spent.
Marie reviewing Northland Coastal Walk
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