Karikari Peninsula: A paradise of beaches and fishing

If Kangaroo Island had a do-over it would be Rangiputa Beach.  Here, at the top shores of the Karikari Peninsula, Tyler and I gazed in awe at the beautiful white sand beaches, the crystal blue waters and the wonderful lack of people during the winter season.  Every day we saw at least one rainbow arching proudly across the sky.  This made the beautiful harbor seem all the more magical.

 

The wonderful thing about the Karikari Peninsula is that there are beaches in every direction, as far as your eye can see. Tyler particularly enjoyed this as it made fishing with the tide quite easy to do. If the wind was blowing wrong on one beach, a five-minute drive to another beach would fix that in a hurry.

 

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Rangiputa Beach

Thirty minutes from the nearest town of Kaitaia, Rangiputa Beach was a secluded paradise that seemed to somehow escape the grips of development.  One of our neighbors did clue us in to say that the few gorgeous homes who did happen to be in the peninsula, were mostly vacation homes for folks who lived in Auckland. Both she and we agreed that the beach was rather nice without many tourists or even residents, for that matter. 

 

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She said the summer season was quite the opposite. Piles of cars, boats and people of all ages lined the streets leading to her driveway.  In the small cul-de-sac we stood in, she said there were normally so many cars that half of them would be covered in tickets for illegal parking. Upon hearing this, Tyler and I agreed that we had discovered the north at the right time of year.  The lack of tourists made it quite pleasurable to explore and discover all that the peninsula had to offer.

 

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Even the work we did resembled my time at Kangaroo Island.  For an hour or so each morning we cleaned the apartment units next door to ours and then afterward, as our host insisted, we were obligated to “go play!”  (This was nine-thousand times better and different from my stories on Kangaroo Island and for that I loved it!)

 

Deb was very insistent that we enjoy ourselves during our stay at the White Sands. As if hanging out in a wood-covered apartment with a cozy, cabin feel wasn’t enough – we had all day every day to relax, explore, fish or read.  Needless to say, we were in heaven.

 

Among our time at Rangiputa, here are a few of our favorite spots we discovered around the Karikari Peninsula:

 

 

Puheke Hill

I found Puheke Hill to be quite magical.  The climb is steep and exhilarating, which makes the gorgeous views all the more splendid.  Previously a volcano, this hill is easy to spot from most places on the peninsula.  I wanted to provide more of a history about the volcano but the internet has failed to provide much information other than a few other bloggers who’ve experience the wonder of it themselves.

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At the top you can see just how many sprawling beaches cover this one small area of the peninsula.  It truly is amazing.  Not surprisingly, Puheke Hill overlooks the beautiful, Puheke Beach.

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Puheke Beach

 All I have are pictures for this beautiful, timeless classic.

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Coca-Cola Lake

I have never in my life seen anything like Coca-Cola Lake (or, Rotopotaka Lake, as the locals call it.)  I’d even have a hard time describing this lake.  The water looks exactly like, well, Coke!

Coca-Cola Beach

Coca-Cola Beach

 While the water is actually clear, there is a sediment at the bottom of the lake that makes the water appear to be a cinnamon brown color. This coloring mixed with the fizz created by the waves, really makes you question if it is truly coke or water.

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Our host told us the water is really great for your skin and often times in the summer many Maori people come here to bathe for the healing properties the water presents.

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 Tyler was brave enough to hop in, which inspired me to even dip my feet in.  It was extremely cold but refreshing nonetheless.

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Mai Tai Bay

While it was too cold for me to swim while I visited, Mai Tai Bay has got to be hands-down, the best swimming spot for miles around. Not only have I read this to be true, but simply walking along the beach gazing at the crystal-clear waters and fantastic holes carved between the rocks, really made me believe this to be true.

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 Tyler and I walked all around both Mai Tai Bay and the neighboring beach, Merita.  Both were stunning and unique in their own way.  We only wished it would have been warm enough for us to take a dip!

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Shipwreck Bay

Shipwreck Bay was a lovely beach as well.  The name provides lots of history of abandoned ships from long ago.  One particular metal artifact points back to a shipwreck from the 1800’s, which gave the beach its name.

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Doubtless Bay

Doubtless Bay gets its name for obvious reasons. When the first explorers found the area, they were doubtless as to whether it was a bay or not.  The undoubted bay area is absolutely gorgeous and a quaint place to visit.   Each bay town has its own feel and unique charm.

 

Manganui

Known as one of the country’s best fishing harbors, Manganui is a port town with lots of lazy boats, seagulls and pleasant people.

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We were told the Manganui Fish House once claimed it had the “World’s Best Fish & Chips”, though locals told us the real owner of that title was just around the bend, at the Takeaway shop.  But of course, upon hearing the claim to fame, we had to give it a try.

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The Manganui Fish House is all views.  The food was okay but the house itself is fantastically situated right over the water in the heart of the bay.  This was the perfect place for a lovely lunch while watching lazy ships fish the day away.

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But if you’re looking for the best fish and chips in the bay, we suggest sticking with the local’s advice and heading around the bend to the Takeaway joint, just up the road.

 

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Puwheke Marginal Strip

This little beauty was a five-minute walk from our apartment and potentially one of the most beautiful spots on the peninsula. The marginal strip is slowly deteriorating due to erosion, so if you plan to come, better make it soon.

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Here were beaches untouched and allegedly amazing fishing, though Tyler didn’t have much luck when he came here.

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The view was amazing and there is a free camp ground at the end of the strip as well.

 

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Cape Reinga + Ninety Mile Beach

We also took the time to drive north to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach.  You can read all about that discursion in a separate post I’ve written, located here.

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Kaitaia

Kaitaia is the nearest town to the Karikari Peninsula and also the only city in the far north.  With a population just under 6,000 though, it’s no booming metropolis. Still, we found all the supplies we needed in the buzzing micropolis.  The city has a MacDonald’s, KFC and several great locally-owned restaurants.  It also features a Warehouse, Noel Leeming (electronics) and Pak-N-Save for affordable groceries.  

 

We drove to Kaitaia once per week during our stay on the peninsula.  We mostly went for supplies and also set our our bank acocunts here, which was much easier to do than it had seemed in Auckland.  We were quick to get an appointment and the service was very friendly and very fast.

 

Kaitaia’s claim to fame is that it is the gateway to Cape Reinga and 90-mile-beach.  It’s also the last major stop headed into the very far northland.  Similarly, it’s the largest city in the north half of the North Island, third after Auckland and Whangerei. 

 

 

Time on the peninsula seemed to stand still.  Our days were lazily spent fishing, walking on the beach, writing and reading.  The few neighbors we had were easy to get to know and by the end of our three-week stay, Tyler was friends with most of the fishermen around the area.  While we could have easily spent the entirety of winter on Rangiputa Beach, we decided there was more to see and we’d better get a move on heading back south.  If the opportunity arose in the future, we’d definitely go back to the peninsula, though. Life was easy here.