Tutukaka is special: so is the food at Schnappa Rock

I had the special of the day, Hapuka with Moroccan-style baby potato, beans and a capsicum jus: and within hours I was tweeting I’d just had the best hapuka I’d had in years!  Where was I? Schnappa Rock Restaurant & Bar  at Tutukaka half an hour north-east of Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand and the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve: from my table I can see the Perfect Day  boat I’ll be taking in the morning for my trip to the islands.

Around me, as in most marine resorts, are a mix of people.  A group of young backpacker-type travellers have just left on a bus, while other independent travellers are enjoying drinks at the outside tables. Opposite me are two couples, the women  well dressed with perfectly coiffured hairstyles – ‘the rock’ accommodates us – and overheard  conversations let me know the fish I’m eating is not the only great thing on the menu!

A dessert of orange and almond cake, with raspberry coulis and yoghurt, completes my meal: perfect.

Nick Keene and Esther Eves have had this restaurant for some five years and pride themselves in serving fresh, local and sustainable food. The fish is line caught, local and fresh.

They describe the setting as “sub-tropical escapism” – being surrounded by punga (NZ’s native tree-fern) and lush hibiscus certainly helps  as we escape our daily lives and sink into a relaxed, coastal, holiday, vacation, mood.

I wander back to my accommodation (Oceans Resort Hotel) on the first day of my destination, two weeks in Northland, knowing I’ve already escaped my daily routine and I’m looking forward my time up here – it’s been a long, long time since I was in this special part of New Zealand.


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Northland, New Zealand–my road-trip begins

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand for the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both


Well, day one of my travels started with light rain in Wellington and my voice. I left them both behind in the capital!

Auckland was muggy and it wasn’t long before I picked up the rental car, and my kiwi-speaking Tom-tom (gps) under in orders as where we were off to (Whangarei) we headed off. Although I’d planned on two hours from Auckland to Clapham’s National Clock Museum It was a good half hour to get to the Harbour Bridge and my road trip felt as though it was really beginning.

I was amazed how interesting the museum and its 1400 clocks are and there will be a blog about it on my return: so all you clock and curio lovers bookmark this page and come back to read it and see the photos.

A quick stop at the Whangarei Falls and it was not long before I was at Tutukaka and the award-winning Oceans Resort Hotel – a fabulous place with great views over the marina – I can see why it’s a popular wedding venue and destination! (@oceansresort)

For dinner I had the best hapuku I have eaten since I don’t know when ( accompanied by Moroccan –style baby potatoes, with fresh beans and bacon and the most divine red pepper sauce. I could have almost picked the plate up and licked it! So, in Tutukaka, head for Schnappa Rock Restaurant & Bar (@schapparock) where I’m sure anything on the menu will be just as delicious.

So ended day one and it’s morning now and after a great sleep, and waking to a beautiful sky I find on talking to myself my voice has not yet caught up with me – it’s still hanging out in Wellington – in fact I think it’s retreated even further under the duvet, refusing to come out!

A few photos to whet your appetite for a trip to NZ’s famous Northland.

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