Forest – Ocean – Desert – Pastures

6 days in New Zealand. 1 family road trip. 388 km travelled. 5 hours in a car. 1 night camping. I’ve hiked through a subtropical forest, caught fishies in the Pacific Ocean, sand boarded down massive sand dunes, then patiently waited for milking cows to cross the road. And I still have 78 days left in New Zealand. 

Here in Northland, it is obvious there has been a significant amount of deforestation (inevitably accompanied by soil quality reduction), in order to make space for ever-expanding pastures. Despite this, there are still pockets of natural forest stands remaining. One of them is on my cousin’s property.  


Nestled within fields of cattle and sheep is this little oasis, an untouched forest that hugs a winding creek, complete with a little waterfall and hungry eels.

Into the car. Family packed. Tents packed. Food packed. Ready for a night of camping with my cousin’s in-laws. We all head up to Houhora to a lovely campground called Waigners – full amenities, private spots, and right beside the ocean. A full day on the beach nestled between bush and bay, we watched all the kiddies play in the water, pretending to find stingrays and trade rocks for treasures. Conversations flow after the young ones are put to bed, and though I have just met these extended family members, they are incredibly welcoming. 

The next day brings wind and rain, so we packed up and, instead of heading home, head out further north to Cape Reinga and set up camp on the edge of the Tapotupotu Stream. The coastline is beautiful, even with the heavy fog sitting atop the hills. Yet, before we even start our afternoon tea, a forceful gust of wind surprises us from the south and flattens one of our tents! Time to head back.

To my delight, we take a pit stop at Te Paki Stream by 90 Mile Beach. Massive sand dunes stretch to the oceans edge and sprawl as far as the eye can see. The dumpings of silica volcanic waste from the south. 

Unpack the boogie board and we’re off, on our bellies down the dunes, despite the rain and wind.

Returning home, after an eventful weekend. 

Ecologically conscious graffiti. 

And the cows coming home. 


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