Only the startAn early start (again)  would have gotten us out of Dargaville very early but prudence prevailed and we had a muffin and coffee at the only open cafe. This was lucky as we took ages to find anywhere else long the road where this was an option.

The Waiphua Forest and Kai Iwi Lakes are terrific, the trees, the water, the roads and whole ambiance is so fabulous, if you've not seen these then you should. We took a couple of turn offs to the big Kauri tree and another to a forest watch tower. Both of these are very well done and you can't help but wonder if our leaders would be better to spend their time and our money on developing such facilities rather than passing new legislation aimed out allowing them to waste it telling us how good they are and why we should vote for the sods. (I wonder if this will infringe the new legislation, I hope so. Take me to court Helen!)

Our plan was to get to Kaitaia for lunch however we got to Rawene, some considerable distance short, just after 11:30, just missing the ferry so lunch was at the very excellent Boatshed cafe.

The ferry man was a real card and we had a good laugh with him about the bikes, wives, and sundry bloke stuff and we were deposited, probably just before 1pm, on the North side of the Hokianga. Once These trees are BIGpast the ferry, time went into fast forward again the only real incident being meeting a small fleet of Police cars the first of which was on the wrong side of the road.

I don't know about you, but I expect the police drivers to set an example, particularly if they are pinging people for relatively minor infringements of the rules. Sadly this is the second cop in the past week to try and hit me in a car. It's a shame because we want to respect and look up to the police, not have them as a minor branch of the tax department as they appear now. Guys, it's time to raise the standards, not let them drop yet further.

Eventually we arrived at Aripara at the bottom of 90 Mile Beach. By this time a sugar rush was called for and as a couple of bottles of Ginger Ale and a chart with the proprietor of the coffee bar about where would be good for the night ensued. The hour was late enough that Cape Reanga would  be too far and too late so we reluctantly left that for next time. The consensus was Mangonui so we quickly sailed through Kaitaia and had a brief look around the Karikari Peninsular.

The Ensign Motel on the waterfront in Mangonui was our first stop and we were very taken with the owners love of Elvis which makes a great selling point. The rooms are decorated with pictures of the King but On the ferrythe office has to be seen to be believed. Dragging ourselves away from the Heartbreak Hotel, we dumped our stuff and made a raid on nearby Taupo Bay, you could easily spend a week or so here. Scenic beyond belief.

There's a choice of eateries at Mangonui. Impelled by a lady entering the the Waterfront Cafe we followed suit and had a truly excellent meal (Snapper in my case). A bottle of the local Shipwreck Bay Cab Sav to wash it down and a long chat about the tides with a local lady hailing from South Africa being an unexpected bonus.

No question today makes up for the pit that is Dargaville! We'll be back!.

Had enough yet?