Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
‘Oman is one of the cleanest and most beautiful countries in the world’ a local business man tells. He put it down to the thousand street cleaners, in their green uniforms,’who work daily from 6 AM to 11 AM and then again from 3 to 530′. I agree, it needs to be on your bucket-list.
The Sultanate of Oman, the third largest country of the Arabian peninsula is certainly beautiful: with low rise buildings which must be painted white or cream. And, unlike its neighbour Dubai, this country has not traded its heritage for shopping malls, high-rise hotels, and imported workers.
In this delightful country it was easy to meet locals and today’s photos are from the fish market Muscat, the country’s capital.
Northland has it all – you are spoilt for choice and today it’s gum diggers history, fish, swimming, and great accommodation. I check out the fabulous, add-to-your-list Kahoe Farms Hostel and head off to the historic seaside village of Mangonui – home of the famous Mangonui Fish Shop. Browse the little craft shops and walk the Heritage Trail around the village. ( for a map see here, or buy one at the little visitors centre.)
The walkway is dedicated to the men and women, Maori and European, who sailed vast oceans to make a new life. The Polynesian navigator Kupe visited the area about 900 AD and later, another canoe, the Ruakaramea, was guided into a harbour by a shark. The canoes chief, Moehuri, named the harbour Mangonui, which means ‘large shark’.
This was known as a safe harbour for whaling vessels by the late 1700s and in 1831 the first European settlers arrived. By the mid-1800s, Mangonui was a centre for whalers and traders with sawmilling, flax and gum industries flourishing.
Now, it’s better known as the home of the ‘world-famous’ fish and chip shop’ but I’m sad to say, for me, the tagline did not live up to its food on the day I was there – but as it gets many rave reviews perhaps I was just there at the wrong time!
After the disappointing lunch I continue in my rental car onto the lovely Doubtless Bay Villas in Cable Bay and where I immediately head for the golden sands and blue water.
Travelling alone it’s not always easy to go swimming: where do you put your car and accommodation keys? Mostly, in NZ, I just leave them with my towel, but when the keys belong to someone else I find it easier to pin them inside my swimming gear, or on a chain around my neck – what do you do when alone and wanting to swim at the beach?
I spend the evening, night and morning relaxing, reading, just soaking up the view and great accommodation before heading off for Kaitaia and the Mainstreet Lodge, taking a side road and stopping for lunch at the fantastic Karikari Estate. For wine buffs make sure you have a sober driver when you tackle the samples of tasting wines.
I continue along SH10 on to Awanui then turn right and head north for Gumdiggers Park , an authentic Kauri Gum digging site that’s over 100 years old.
Amazingly, 40,000 to 150,000 year old Buried Kauri Forests have been exposed by the gum diggers and the Gumdiggers’ village, equipment & recreated shelters brings the stories to life.
Newly formed tracks show extensive ancient kauri deposits and the bus tour tourists who were also visiting told me they too enjoyed the walk around the very natural park.
With the scenery around Northland, as I said in a earlier blog with other photos – no wonder TV shows like The Bachelor and Top Model have used this area for some of their programmes.
I had the special of the day, Hapuka with Moroccan-style baby potato, beans and a capsicum jus: and within hours I was tweeting I’d just had the best hapuka I’d had in years! Where was I? Schnappa Rock Restaurant & Barat Tutukaka – half an hour north-east of Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand and the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve: from my table I can see the Perfect Day boat I’ll be taking in the morning for my trip to the islands.
Around me, as in most marine resorts, are a mix of people. A group of young backpacker-type travellers have just left on a bus, while other independent travellers are enjoying drinks at the outside tables. Opposite me are two couples, the women well dressed with perfectly coiffured hairstyles – ‘the rock’ accommodates us – and overheard conversations let me know the fish I’m eating is not the only great thing on the menu!
A dessert of orange and almond cake, with raspberry coulis and yoghurt, completes my meal: perfect.
Nick Keene and Esther Eves have had this restaurant for some five years and pride themselves in serving fresh, local and sustainable food. The fish is line caught, local and fresh.
They describe the setting as “sub-tropical escapism” – being surrounded by punga (NZ’s native tree-fern) and lush hibiscus certainly helps as we escape our daily lives and sink into a relaxed, coastal, holiday, vacation, mood.
I wander back to my accommodation (Oceans Resort Hotel) on the first day of my destination, two weeks in Northland, knowing I’ve already escaped my daily routine and I’m looking forward my time up here – it’s been a long, long time since I was in this special part of New Zealand.