Ngunguru Happy Syndicate Blog – adventure trips …


Opononi-2-Paihia and back Adventure :  20. – 25. July 

Day 1: The planned 18 km Hokianga Harbour Surfski paddle from Opononi to Horeke was cut back to a half hour paddle from Koutu Beach to the sand dunes. The weather bomb from the previous weekend threw the whole timing and routing upside down.


We went back to the original plan i.e. going from Opononi up the coast and then cutting across to the east coast.

When everyone arrived in Koutu Beach we loaded the bikes up and cycled to Opononi wharf. There we got the pre-arranged ferry to the sand dunes.


The weather was so warm for winter, that we did a few sand tobogganing races. Most were won by young Martin. Herve chickened out… not sure why.

After pushing our heavily loaded MTBikes over the amazing Opononi sand dunes, through gorse, chasing wild cows to the beach, we ended up cycling along the wonderful beach towards Mitimiti.

After deflating the tyres it was almost like a motorway run… Very nice local Maori showed us their line caught fish and explained the wild cows and horses, as well as their close-to-subsistence farming life style to us. How different from us mainly city slickers. One can wonder what is the more healthy and mindful life style…We couldn’t get into Mitimiti Marae for a cultural immersion, despite Lewis writing us a cool wooden note with Ana’s (Marae’s treasury) contact details… Immediately after chatting with a Belgium couple in their camper van barbecuing freshly caught snapper, we pitched our tents. Andrew went further up the hill, close to the Mitimiti cemetery … and almost slid down the sand dunes at night. Probably the most famous Maori contemporary artist, Ralph Hotere, rests with heavenly views in this very interesting & quirky cemetery. Gum boots are used as flower vases, regularly replaced beer bottles remind the after bearers on their relatives enjoyments, beautiful weavings and carvings are ornaments to other graves. The prominent, red Chinese Shrine towers over the hill side and reminds us of the fatal

casualties from the sinking of the SS Vernon in 1902 and their gratitude to local Maori rescuing the survivors. Andrew obviously was under utilised and went off for another cycle to almost the end of Mitimiti bridge and got chased home by some stray dogs and wild cows. When Martin woke up after 8 hours sleep, he went first for a walk which ended up in a run along the beach at 5am in the morning. Matariki/ Pleiades were just rising on the unbelievable clear night sky, with lots of shooting stars and satellites spicing up the moonless sky.

The Day 2 trip started in Mitimiti with some early morning beach run and reading at the Mitimit Marae before refuelling water at the friendly local Maori horse breeder. The cycle was an 80 km MTB to the Mangamuka Dairy for a healthy Fish&Chips meal…The weather was a mixed bag of rain, sunshine, wind and amazing views of Northland’s country side. The Broadwood Dairy run by a cool Indian family had no power so we could not fill our depleted water bottles and had to splash out on juices & other healthy drinks … yeaahhh… The logging trucks overtaking us on the rural roads were pretty scary. As were the skinned pigs we saw along the way … teh friendly lady at the Mangamuka Dairy introduced us to her brother Cyril. He runs the Mangamuka Te Reo Radio Station. And offered us to stay in Mangamuka Ritz for a koha. It turned out to be Shining like hotel experience with creaky windows & other scary sounds, always waiting

Here is Johnny … from Shining

for Jack Nicholson to rock up. But instead we found wonderful mattresses and good night sleeps for our next days adventure. 

Day 3 started in the Mangamuka Ritz (soon the Mangamuka Te Reo Radio Station) with some swiss ball soccer in the lounge and nice hot teas brewed in Andrew’s plastic-metal collapsible pot.

A hot chocolate started us off on this nippy and rainy winters day right into a cold south westerly breeze. Young Martin started ahead to cover the track he and Andrew separately had walked before as part of the Te Araroa trail.

After only about 10 km into the Puketi Forest, testosterone loaded Martin, the older, tried to catch up with the gang, blasted down the hill so fast that he almost clipped Herve’s back wheel and decided to check out a near by pothole in more detail. The flooded pothole had a big stone under water and resulted in some air time for Martin and a hard landings on his left shoulder and helmet. From then it was walking towards the Puketi Hut. Young Martin took over the heavy Giant MTB and old Martin pushed Jodie’s daughters light bike all the way through the Puketi forest.


On Day 4 Herve and Andrew cycled leisurely to Paihia, took the ferry to Russell. And chilled out for most of the day in sheer luxury in the wonderfully restored, oldest pub of NZ, the Duke of Marlbourogh.

The other two Martin’s spent their time at various doctor’s rooms to get told that the left shoulder may have a torn rotator cuff. And that this could take up to 18 months to heal… yeaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh… To lighten the stuffed up day up we joined Mairie for a lovely Bibibap meal at the local Korean, before watching the touching French movie “The Extraordinaries”.

Day 5 – 130 km MTBike from Paihia to 13km short of Koutu Beach

Herve and Andrew started from their glamping night at the Duke on the ferry from Russell to Paihia. At the East to West cycle way, they parted to each cycle at their own pace towards Koutu Beach.

The two Martin’s made their way to Kaikohe to pick up Gazelle Herve from a Bake house in Kaikohe, after young Martin did some cool kite surfing moves in Kiteone with Lawrence near Parua Bay in the Whangarei Harbour.

Andrew pushed himself hard, through landslide bog and face on winds until about 13 km before Koutu Beach he ran out of daylight and Herve collected him. All whilst the two Martin’s explored the Koutu boulders. The evening was spent to re-hydrate, refuel and rewarm Andrew, before going for a nice Thai take away, The Landings, at Opononi and

warming up in front of Tricia’s wood burner… off to new adventures next … Herve, Martin x 2 and Andrew

The Timbertrail – 17.-20. July …. Jodie & Tess to write up


Herekino Harbour to Ahipara Cape and back – 5. June … Andrew to write up

Also check out Martin Spencer’s Te Aroroa track blog,,, an amazing 109 day feat in the best of times.