Month: May 2012

Great choice of accommodation in Northland – NZ’s ‘winterless north’

Great choice of accommodation in Northland – NZ’s ‘winterless north’

Thought it was time to make some recommendations about accommodation in Northland:  I stayed on a boat, in backpackers, hotels, B&B, a farm stay, villas, cottage, and a camping ground. I’m sure there is bound to be one of these that will suit you perfectly – or maybe you would like to mix and match just like I did.

Thank you to Destination Northland (@northland_nz)for helping me arrange this trip and the diverse accommodation – and to Rental Cars NZ (@rentalcarnz) for the use of a car. Where I know them, I have included Facebook pages and Twitter names – these links are to mine.

Perched on the edge of the renowned Tutukaka Marina, the Oceans Resort Hotel is part of a European inspired resort destination, with a myriad of water-based activities on their doorstep, and with fabulous beaches and a lush subtropical climate you will feel as though you have escaped to paradise ( with its fabulous views and breakfast. (@oceansresort)

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands ( is located within the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, next to a scenic golf course and the historic Treaty House. Set in park-like grounds, this resort is situated beside the Bay of Isalnd harbour and enjoys views of the Bay of Islands. Service excellent. (@mchnz)

The Rock overnight cruise and bed! (  . . . plus target shooting, fishing, night kayaking, snorkeling, island walks and generally exploring the Bay of Islands.  BBQ dinner and breakfast included.  All the cabins are upstairs with windows to take in the incredible views and balcony access to two quiet observation sun-decks. Unbelievably downstairs has everything from a log fire, bar, piano, pool table, lounge, dining area and a large fishing and kayaking ramp.(@rocktheboatnz). Loved it!

Pickled Parrot Backpackers, Greys Lane (just beyond Scenic Hotel) at the southern end of Paihia. This small friendly hostel has a well-appointed kitchen and is set in quiet subtropical gardens – and with breakfast included. All the rooms have New Zealand bird names – I was in the Aussie over-stayer one – rosella.

Waitangi Holiday Park, a very basic campsite for tents and campervans, some cottages too. Close to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – it’s really ideal for Waitangi Day celebrations and I loved being in the centre of the activity – celebrations that I believe all Kiwi’s should attend at least once in their lifetime!













In Kerikeri you’ll love the Wharepuke Subtropical Gardens and eco-cottages.


I stayed in one of the stylish self-catering, eco cottages which are nestled in 2 hectares of award-winning subtropical gardens. The accommodation also showcases original fine art prints and paintings by resident artist Mark Graver and has wonderful food at FOOD at Wharepuke.

On the recommendation of Bare Kiwi (see his video on this link)  I also stayed at Kahoe Farms Hostel ( a fabulous homestay with an Italian flavour – a must do if you want to see real kiwi-life and a great base for many local activities such as hiking, canoeing, sailing etc.  This is a beautiful Kauri farmhouse with charming rooms of polished wood and country furnishings. The hosts give a warm welcome here at one of New Zealand’s leading farm hostels and backpackers. Footballers (what we call soccer) are especially welcome to join a game with locals and other travellers.

Doubtless Bay Villas are beautiful as you can see by the photos and their website – and the views are fabulous too. These stylish, spacious and luxurious villa-style apartments are just a short walk down to the lovely sand beaches where I had a swim and joined locals in sampling some of the mussels clinging to the rocks.

Mainstreet Lodge in Kaitaia is a very clean and friendly backpacker’s lodge in the centre of town – a good jumping of place for tours “up to the cape” or beginning walking the length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa walkway.  With new ownership this old YHA is being refurbished to an even higher standard and has a variety of rooms to choose from.

The Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga, (@MCHNZ) is right on the water’s edge of the Hokianga Harbour, this beautiful old style kauri villa (and newer wings) has stunning views of the massive sand dunes across the bay.

I also recommend you check into the Endless Summer Lodge, on Foreshore Rd, Ahipara. . This is a beautiful, clean, friendly 1880 wooden villa is at the end of 90-Mile Beach. Shipwreck Bay is sheltered from the prevailing wind and is home to one of the best surfing breaks in NZ – and one of the world’s best left-hand surf break – and is also a safe beach for swimming. A great country kitchen and herb garden for all to use too.

Sunset View Lodge, Baylys Beach.  is where you can hear the sound of the waves from the Lodge and is near Ripiro Beach – the longest driveable beach in New Zealand. Free Wi-Fi here and an honesty box in the bar!

The Commercial Hotel, Dargaville is a completely refurbished (2011) heritage-listed waterfront pub that was built in the 1880s and overlooks the mighty Northern Wairoa River. Sitting, with a coffee, on the balcony watching the sand barge returning home after its days’ work, birds, and watching the sun-set, was a treat. I can well recommend this place when you are exploring the Twin Highways of Northland.

Last chance for 105 years! (Times for transit of Venus 6th June 2012)

PS I didn’t see the transit — it was cold and cloudy in Wellington NZ  .. guess I have to wait a long long time


This is your last chance to witness a transit  of Venus – in fact the last chance for 105 years – the next one will be in 2117. thanks Carters in Wellington for this information

Carter  Observatory’s  Eclipse Shades/Solar viewing glasses are now on sale in shop for $3 a pair – these allow you to safely observe the Sun.

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITH THE NAKED EYE. Place the glasses over your eyes BEFORE looking at the Sun.


Eclipse Shades should NOT be used with binoculars, telescopes, cameras or any other optical devices. Do not use if these glasses are damaged or the material is separated.

Their Eclipse Shades will allow you  to  see the Transit of Venus (Wednesday, 6 June) and the partial solar eclipse later this year (Wednesday, 14 November) as well as large sunspots that  may be visible on the Sun’s disc.

Other methods of viewing this event include using telescopes or binoculars to project the Sun’s image onto white card or paper. Additional safety precautions will be needed as even accidental viewing of the Sun will cause permanent eye damage or blindness.

Assuming that the skies are clear, all stages of the transit will be visible from New Zealand. Venus will appear as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun. The transit lasts just over 6 hours and the movement of Venus across the Sun will be very slow.

The transit starts at about 10:15am and it takes 18 minutes before all the planet’s disc moves onto the Sun. Mid transit  is just before 1:30pm. Venus will begin moving off the Sun at about 4:25pm and the transit will end by 4:44p















Auckland 10:15:31





Christchurch 10:15:43





Dunedin 10:15:48





Hamilton 10:15:31





Napier 10:15:30





Nelson 10:15:40





New Plymouth 10:15:36





Palmerston North 10:15:34





Tauranga 10:15:29





Wellington 10:15:37





Whangarei 10:15:30





Times courtesy of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand.

The Rock: take an overnight cruise in New Zealand

The Rock – an interesting name, especially in the Bay of Islands where the ‘Hole in the Rock’ is a destination for boat trips from Paihia.

This ‘rock’ is a boat: originally a car ferry that carried 7 or 9 vehicles and it’s now been converted to a Hosteling International (YHA) hostel and I’ve joined a group for an overnight cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands (Northland, New Zealand).

We’re picked up at 4pm at the Paihia wharf and with life-jackets on; we’re taken out to the flat-bottomed boat. It’s not long before we have had our rooms assigned, safety briefing given and we have target practice – note, don’t rely on me to feed or protect you with a weapon!

However, I can catch a fish (snapper) but it’s too small and has to be released, although the next day I manage to get some edible kina (sea eggs) which I love and the international tourists eat with trepidation.

So, this boat is not merely for transport around the Bay of Islands, but is our accommodation too. All the rooms are on the top level and my room overlooks the bow (front) of the old barge and as the boat is flat-bottomed there is very little movement unless a boat goes past.

Adam, the Skipper has a job like mine “A millionaire’s lifestyle on a poor man’s wage”. He’s an accomplished pianist and after dinner, as we head for bed he’s tinkling away at the ivories.  A piano on board was not anything I expected!

The next day we are kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, and exploring the area. Our meals are at a long table and are delicious. Perhaps this is the only floating YHA hostel in the world:  let me know if you are aware of others.

I found this overnight cruise (online) many months before my Northland trip (I spent 2 weeks exploring the area in a low-cost rental car from NZ Rentals) and this was the first activity, and accommodation, on my agenda – a good choice. Watch this  four-minute video created by my mates at ONZAMAP. (Check out their other travel info videos too)

Just some of the comments in the visitor’s book say:

  • Our second time on The Rock and you still rock! (UK couple)
  • You guys are amazing (German)
  • F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

Enjoy a few of my photos from my time on board – the time flew and yet seemed ages all at the same time. Fabulous, I can recommend The Rock – in fact I must do a  review on Trip Advisor about it.

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