OFF THE TRACK
One of my passions is surfing and any traveling I do around our beautiful country is always based on a surf trip of some description. In May Carmen and I traveled to OCEAN BEACH on Northland's east coast to compete in a competition called "anything but three". This is an alternative format to the thruster or three finned surfboard dominated competition scene. We packed one of our vans with 3 boards and everything we needed to eat and sleep for 2 days. We had passed through Whangarei in the dark and the first light was showing us the way as we started toward Whangarei Heads.
This is a wonderful drive of about 35 minutes through farmland, orchards and secluded deep water bays. No surf gets into these bays and the feel is one of peace and stillness. Each one inhabited by a few baches and moored boats with a public toilet and changing rooms for swimmers. There is a scene of another time even though you are never that far from Whangarei. The view across to the other side of the harbour is of New Zealands only oil refinery producing around 75% of our countries fuel needs. The refinery is a blaze of different colored lights at night and is actually quite a cool view as they sparkle and reflect of the still water.
Parua Bay is a small settlement with a great camp ground, fuel station and shops supplying all needs. Whangarei Heads has 5 large rock outcrops which Maori legend says are 5 ancient chiefs from the 5 tribes of the area who stand vigil on the outlook to protect locals and welcome visitors to the harbour's safe waters.
Over the hill is the ocean side of the peninsular and Ocean beach with a totally different, more raw appeal. Wind, sand dunes and rocky outcrops dominate the scene but when conditions prevail the surf can be very good. Unfortunately for us the surf and wind didn't behave and our comp was held in far less than ideal conditions.
On our trip around Whangarei Heads we didn't see any "no camping" signs and there are toilets and rubbish bins everywhere. Ocean beach car park is a very peaceful place to spend the night and we woke to the sound of the sea and native Tui's singing. There are walking tracks to the Heads summit.
Please be respectful of locals and remain quiet and tidy during your stay or, I am sure, the "no camping" signs will appear and council bylaws will be enforced.