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30 July 2006

Journey's End

At present, my right leg is playing up again and I am back on painkillers, and waiting for an X-Ray to tell me whether my first hip replacement has reached it's use-by date, or whether it's something else unrelated that is causing the toothachey pain down the side of my right leg. In the meantime, my walking has been restricted to periods of about 10 minutes or so after which I need to sit for a bit until the pain eases. Bugger!... and that's among the milder expletives I've used.

Anyhow, just as all this was brewing, we bought a campervan, a HiTop Toyota HiAce, ex-rental, with the object of getting around some of the walking tracks in the North Island, and today, feeling a little stir-crazy, we set out to Journeys End, on the Kaipara Coast about level with Wellsford, to try and justify the purchase.

For a more detailed guide to getting there, see below.

At the end of the road is a small community of houses and baches,

a flat sandy beach with islands of mangroves

and a long narrow island several hundred yards offshore which is home to a small colony of fairy terns. As with Waionui, a kayak adds a valuable dimension to a visit here.

photo by miranda woodward

There's something about this place which calls out for a wide angle lens.

The fairy terns are among the world's rarest birds, with a total population around 30. The area is also home to another rare bird, the New Zealand dotterel.

The area beyond the baches, and including the island is a DOC reserve, the Okahukura Conservation area.

The RDC sign alongside allows dogs in winter, on a leash and below the high water mark, which is fine with us and Alice is duly fastened to the expanding leash. We grab a bite of lunch, and set off to explore. Just along from the boat ramp is a wonderful old log, which Alice has a ball tangling her leash in.

photo by miranda woodward

Beside another log, mangrove seedlings are quietly establishing themselves.

photo by miranda woodward

Along the way a little a number of pied stilts are checking the shallows for a feed and Miranda heads off for a closer look.

photo by miranda woodward

Is this my best side?

photo by miranda woodward

My leg is already pinging a little and I take five minutes out for a sit on a log near the high water mark, before wandering along to see what Miranda is up to up ahead. The light is soft, the weather fine but cloudy, and any long distance pics show a fine soft-focus haze.

photo by miranda woodward


Journey's End is not a bad name for this expedition. To get there from the south, come up Highway 16 about 44 km from the Grand Hotel in Helensville. A few hundred metres past Tauhoa Rd on the right take Wharehine Rd on the left. The next few kilometres are fairly rough gravel road. At nearly 50 km Wharehine Rd veers around to the right, Witheford Rd runs off to the left and we go straight ahead, along Run Rd and we're, briefly, back on the tarseal.

We carry on past Pah Hill Rd and Marsh Rd on the right, past Burma Rd on the left, past Burma Rd again, and on a few kilometres to reach Tapora settlement and school, where we turn right along Journey's End Rd. We follow this to the end, for a total distance from Helensville of some 71 km.

From Wellsford, take the Kaipara Coast Highway towards Helensville (turn off at the south end of town) and turn right at Port Albert Rd. Continue along this road until it joins Wharehine Rd to the left, and follow this until the junction with Witheford Rd, then as above


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