The Old Chooks Tour

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Written by Tracy Mackey

Biking and Hiking Bespoke Tour for the 8 Old Chooks!

Take a tour with Northland Experiences for the adventure of a lifetime.

An adventure of a lifetime always starts with anticipation, a pinch of the unknown, an exciting unusual experience, and not really knowing the outcome. I was very fortunate to host the Old chooks on our tour immersing ourselves in Northland’s history, culture, sampling local delicious produce and exploring its hidden treasures.

The Old Chooks arrive in Paihia, Bay of Islands and enjoy the luxury of Edgewater apartments set on the waterfront. The next day they set off on their timeless adventure by catching a boat out to the wildlife sanctuary of Urupukapuka, one of the seven pest free islands of Ipipiri, situated in the Eastern Bay of the Bay of islands. We were welcomed with the wonderful sounds of the many species of birdsong, and the endless flutter of the Tuis wings as they sailed past us. We trekked our way through some of the most prime real estate for the re-introduced native bird species, such as the curious Toutouwai [North island robin], bronzed beauty Tieke [saddleback], the cheeky Popokotea [ whitehead] , and the sensational birdsong of the Tui. Our mission was to spot the elusive, very rare, but incredible beautiful Kakariki [native green parakeet] and it lived up to its expectation. This spectacular bright red green parakeet, and with the other rare species delighted us with their presence, cruising in and interacting with us, such a treat.

We came out of the bush to Paradise Bay, which certainly lived up to its name. A delightful picnic lunch freshly made from local produce, then a swim in the tranquil waters. Leaving this behind we made a small detour to the see the brown teal duck, before tackling the hike up the endless steps and overlooking sheer cliff drops to take in the spectacular views looking out across the Bay of Islands.

The day ended watching the sunset overlooking the water sipping a well-deserved drink, contemplating how wonderful our day was, and indulging in the outstanding feast of local delicacies from the deck of the Iconic Duke of Marlborough in Russell. Just Magic.

The next day, was like stepping back in time. So tranquil and peaceful following the Waikare Connection river trail, Russell Forest section of the Te Araroa Trail. The native bush forest there is flourishing, seemingly undisturbed and untouched for hundreds of years. Magnificent old kauri, puriri, totara trees and nikau palms make this walk outstanding. Getting our feet wet, this track twists and weaves its way along the river, climbing over, through and around boulders, trees and rocks following the natural course of the river. Stunning, and teaming with native bush and wildlife. A well-kept northland hidden treasure. Another wonderful end to the day, sampling some of the delicious local delicacies and wine, buzzing from our days adventure, at the lovingly restored old establishment Left Bank Hotel in Kaikohe.

Our last days adventure we traded our hiking shoes briefly, for electric bikes to sample a leg of the Pou Herenga Twin Coast Cycle Trail. For most of the group this was their first time on electric bikes, let’s just say they just loved them and had such a wonderful day cycling some of the most spectacular, off the beaten track, sights that only Northland can offer. Taking in the stunning views on this off road trail, traversing down valleys and following the riverbanks before stopping for a picnic lunch beside the river. Then back on the bikes to traverse along the gravel backroads before cruising along one of Nz’s longest boardwalk over the mangroves, finishing at the picturesque place that time has forgotten, Horeke, on the Hokianga Harbour.

Later in the afternoon, we explored the unique geological phenomenon of Wairere Boulders. A wonderful unique privately owned farm who has created a walk which allows interaction without deterring from the ecological restoration of the native forests and bushland. This native bush walk celebrates the native subtropical habitat, alive with the songs of bird and lush with vegetation narrow pathways through the basalt rocks carved by nature. Afterwards, we finished this trek sampling the farmer’s home cooked delicious treats. Our last stop for the day was at the magnificent Mangungu Mission House on the Horeke harbour. This was the largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, with over 3000 chiefs present, also a magnificent viewpoint.

Our last night we found ourselves in the unique House over the Water sitting out over the Hokianga Harbour. Relaxed and happy, sitting on the deck over the water, reflecting on our astounding adventure, and sampling the chilled wine and local cheese. Before heading over to New Zealand’s oldest surviving pub, Horeke hotel. Whilst indulging in succulent pork belly, and delicious thick juicy steaks from local farmers, we listened to all the colourful local tales, stories and entertaining characters brought to life by the publican. A world that time left behind and a fitting end to our adventure sipping drinks, laughing, and watching the spectacular sunset over the Hokianga harbour.

I was lucky enough to share this experience with a wonderful group of 8 ladies calling themselves the ‘old chooks’. We have shared some memories of a life time, from helping each other over the obstacles, to the many laughs, I thoroughly enjoyed your company and I have made new friends to share many more adventures with. A great escape exploring our untouched by time landscape, wonderful company, stunning food and meeting some colourful locals all put together in one Northland Experience package.

Thank you Old chooks I had a Blast with you all! Northland Experiences have an all-inclusive 5 day cycle trip that runs weekly, cycling from coast to coast. Or you can create a bespoke tour of just walking or cycling or a mix as the Old Chooks did.

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