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February 2011 Issue
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Kauri Beach classic

Morning Vista from the campsite
Kauri Beach car park is 30min from Whangarei. Campsite is 10min from car park.
From Whangarei Township take Riverside Drive towards Whangarei Heads
Topo50 AX31
Kauri (Ocean) Beach, Whangarei Heads 

The sun gently emerged from the placid ocean. Just 30-minutes from Whangarei and in this idyllic spot is only me, the sea and the sun. I gently pressed the shutter, whose click briefly interrupted the soft gurgle from the stream to my right. Even the gulls nesting on Awarua Rock were relatively peaceful this morning. Crouching barefoot on the sand my only worry is how to create the morning atmosphere on camera. Panning towards my left the long, sculptured dunes come to an end as cliffs topped with pohutukawa trees rise from the beach. Eventually the sand ends altogether and is replaced with rock perches perfect for sinking a baited hook from. Our tents stand behind me, pitched on the grassy bench of an old quarry dug into the hill.

My friends lie sleeping satisfyingly tired from our walk around Bream Head the day before. Bream Head lies at the southern end of the beach and is a slender serpentine ridge which winds around the headland. Huge volcanic columns tower from the tangle of sub-tropical jungle. From the highest point of the ridge we had spotted our campsite on the beach tucked beneath Kauri Mountain, which also has nice walks up it.

Kauri Beach, which is what the locals call Ocean Beach, is accessed via Kauri Mountain Road. Near the end of this gravel road a small sign heralds a left turn down a public right of way through a green paddock. From the grassed Kauri Beach car park, a short, steep path with hewn steps winds down to the beach. With only a 100m walk along the beach to the grassy camping platform, carrying in luxury supplies like a nice bottle of red wine is easy.

The biggest snapper ever caught on a long line at Kauri Beach

After breakfast the girls take a dip in the calm sea. When there is a decent swell the beach is excellent for surfing, however, today with only small waves in sight, Nev and I select the long line instead. After baiting the hooks Nev paddles the line out to sea. I quickly clip the traces on and watch as a procession of small squid is dragged into the ocean. Relaxing on the warm sand I watch as Nev drops the sinker then paddles over to Awarua Rock to explore the small island.

I wonder about what makes this place so special. Is it the beautiful scenery and salty air? Is it the fact that it is only 30 minutes from a large town and yet so secluded? Or is it because you can fish, surf and tramp all from the one spot?

An hour later we pull in the long line. Nev and Rachel run from the surf excitedly yelling ‘20 pound snapper, 20 pound snapper!’ The exhilaration of our catch is seized by the sea breeze as we pull a huge fish onto the beach, its skin still glistening from the water.

Later, while frying fresh fish with a squeeze of lemon for lunch, I find the answer to my question. It’s the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends that makes this place so special.

– Jacob Saathof