Monday, 11 June 2012

Sunday Drive

May has pretty much been a complete write-off, as we've spent the majority of our time working in a packhouse for LD Packers in Kerikeri. Between all the hours we've worked it's been difficult to get time to get out and about and see much of the Bay of Islands recently, especially having had just one day off in the last thirteen consecutive days of work! So today we took the opportunity to go for a drive back to Matauri Bay and further along the scenic tourist drive to Te Ngaere Bay. As mentioned previously, the last time we visited Matauri Bay the weather made it a less than an enjoyable experience so we really wanted to give it another go.

Taking a short drive north along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, we took the turning for the Matauri Bay Road, following the road until we were greeted by a magnificent view of the bay and the Cavalli Islands. Walking down to the white sandy beach, the waters were beautifully crystal clear and inviting - apparently an ideal spot for spearfishing, as we found out from someone we've been working with!

The entrance to the beach where the Mataatua II war canoe once stood

At the summit of Matauri Bay Hill there is a distinctive stone hilltop memorial on the top of a pa site dedicated to the Greenpeace flagship, The Rainbow Warrior. The vessel was bombed by two French Secret Service agents whilst docked in Auckland Harbour on 10th July 1985, killing Greenpeace crew member and photographer, Fernando Pereira. The Rainbow Warrior was due to set sail from Auckland as part of a protest voyage against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The fact that the attack was carried out on New Zealand territory produced a nationwide sense of outrage and a serious deterioration in relations between New Zealand and France, as well as hardening the country's anti-nuclear stance. The Rainbow Warrior was eventually salvaged, patched up and taken to Matauri Bay on 2nd December 1987 where it was sunk in order for it to serve as a living reef and dive site, resting just west of Motutapere Island.

The following video reflects on the significance of Matauri Bay to the Rainbow Warrior as part of the 25th  anniversary of the bombing. This video can also be found on the Greenpeace website:

To gain access to the monument you have to reach a path from a nearby holiday park at the foot of the hill, however, this wasn't obvious at first glance but we got some useful information from the nearby convenience store. The track to the top is a fairly easy walk with some captivating views looking back across Putataua, Waiheke and Parua Bays. At the very top of the hill we were able to appreciate beautiful panoramic views of the Cavalli Islands which are scattered along some of New Zealand's most beautiful northern shores.

View of Putataua Bay from the track to Rainbow Warrior Memorial

The beautiful turquoise waters of the bay

The local stone materials for the arch were harvested from the Pacific Ocean

It's difficult to get a sense of scale until to you stand beneath the sculpture! 

View across the Cavalli Passage to New Zealand's northernmost islands

The Rainbow Warrior Memorial was commissioned by the local Ngāti Kuri tribe and designed by international sculptuor, Chris Booth. It comprises a stone arch, which symbolises a rainbow, as well as the vessel's dented bronze propeller at the heart of the sculpture. Chris Booth also designed the Te Whiringa o Manoko (The interweaving of the cultures of Kerikeri) sculpture in Kerikeri, which is considered the biggest and most significant public sculpture in New Zealand.

The Kerikeri sculpture is 11m high and features stacked boulders and bronze elements 

Continuing north, we picked up the windy tourist drive again onwards to Te Ngaere Bay. Along the way there was a lookout on a bend in the road with a spectacular view looking back towards Matauri Bay and the Cavalli Islands.

On the way round to Taiaue Bay there's a decent lookout across Matauri Bay 

From here you can get a spectacular panoramic view across the Cavalli Passage

If you look close enough you can just see The Rainbow Warrior Memorial

A few kilometers further down the road we arrived at the small settlement of Te Ngaere where we parked up at Taiaue Bay for a short stroll on the beach looking across to Dome Rock and Motuwhakauruakau Island. At least it made for a more interesting way to take a Sunday drive than it would back at home!

The crystal clear waters of Taiaue Bay and Dome Rock on the horizon

Taiaue Bay offered a tranquil way to finish off a beautiful day

If you carry along the tourist route it will eventually connects up with Whangaroa Harbour, so you can make the drive more of a day out. The route takes roughly 30-35 minutes to drive in total and connects back to State Highway 10 in a loop. 

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