Northland Road Trip Part 1

by nmj17

Someone complained about how my post about the Northland road trip was too short. I reread the post today and agreed. i just briefly described what I did, without going through much detail.

I’ll try to revisit what I did and recall as much as I can.

So… In the weeks upcoming to the trip, I was actually busy preparing for the exams so i didn’t have much time to research on where to go or to come up with a detailed itinerary. I figured that I should simply book the car the week before and not waste too much time thinking about the trip. All I knew was that I want to explore the Northland, go to the northernmost tip of New Zealand and back.

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The night before the trip, I went through the bag of food supplies again and again to make sure that I’ll have enough food to last me the whole trip. I packed a loaf of bread, lots of fruits, peanut butter, nutella, and some canned food. Dags, my flatmate from US, still had a few more papers to go so I felt kind of guilty sitting in the lounge planning for my trip while she was still studying for exams. We sat in the lounge together; I leafed through a couple of guide books and typed out the itinerary while she leafed through her… notes. I was a bit anxious about the trip and so before I went to sleep, I voiced my concern.

“Dags, so many things could go wrong during the trip.”

“Well, don’t think of it that way. So many things can go right as well.”

She’s right.

On Friday, I walked all the way to picked up the car at 12pm. Then I drove back to Claybrook Road to pick up my bags, food supply, pillow and blanket. I’m planning to sleep in the car so might as well try to make myself comfortable. I drove to i-SITE (a site where tourists can just stop by to ask questions about the area of to make bookings for tours etc) to ask for a GPS system but realised that I can just read a map that Elise lent me and just use the GPS system in my phone if I get lost. I mainly stayed on Highway 1, and… travelled north. I passed by Dairy Flats, then drove all the way to Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand. After I left Whangarei, all I would see are small towns, highways, trees, beaches, and more small towns. I reached a town called Wellsford at 3pm and then a town called Paihia at 6pm.

After walking around the town, I chose a quiet spot on the beach, one where there was no one around, and revelled in the moment. The clear sea continued to hug the shore in gentle waves while the sky burst in wonderful hues of orange and purple. At one point in time, I wished that someone else was there to see it all as well. I sat there contemplating in peace and retreated back to the car when it got dark. Initially I wanted to rest there, but since I wasn’t feeling the slightest bit tired, I decided to drive to the next town and sleep there instead.

I reached the next town around 11:30pm. I stopped by the side of the road, tried to sleep but was awoken by the sounds of a huge lorry trying to dock stuff around 12:30am. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to drive. I then reached another town called Manganui at 1:30am, drove on to wash up near Coopers Beach, then reached another town called Kaitaia. Kaitaia is the last town I’ll see before I travel close to 100km to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, so I made sure i have enough fuel to last the journey to the north and back to this town again. The last thing I want is to have my car run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.

I fought sleep, drove all the way up north and reached Cape Reinga at 4am. There were no streetlights nearby and the carpark was pitch dark, so I thought I would have no trouble sleeping there, but boy was I wrong. I could hear the sea waves crashing violently into the nearest cliff and the loud howling of the winds. Every now and again, the wind would rock the car. I looked out the car window, stared at the sky full of stars, and eventually fell asleep when exhaustion took over.