Last week we went away for 4 nights, camping at Kai Iwi Lakes on the Kauri Coast. About 2.5 hours drive from our home. This place has been special to Rob and I for many years, and we were excited to go there again and share it with the boys. Ethan has actually been there twice, but was too young to really remember it.
The lakes are absolutely stunning, and have to be seen to be believed. You also have to be there on a good day to really appreciate their true beauty. Luckily for us, we had some really good days.
There are 3 clear, blue, rain-fed dune lakes, with white sand beaches surrounded by gumland and wetland. Until recently, there was extensive pine forest around the whole area, but the trees had to be cut down as they had grown too big/dangerous. The massive deforestation has changed things a LOT, but it’s still one of the most beautiful places in NZ.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing some photos of our holiday …
The view as you get to the top of the hill is always amazing. Even with the loss of trees, it took my breath away once again. Such a beautiful place.
We chose to camp at Promenade Point, rather than Pine Beach (which ironically now has no pine trees). There are no showers at Promenade, but it’s a nicer looking campground. We managed to snaffle up one of the only remaining decent trees, which provided us with some lovely shade.
Once we were all set up, the first item on the agenda was a SWIM. Of course. And there is nothing better than swimming in a beautiful freshwater lake with crystal clear water. I love the beach, but I love swimming in fresh water a lot more! It’s so refreshing and I like how my hair is not all sandy and salty afterwards. Important when there are no showers!!
The next morning, we had big plans for our first breakfast. It was made even better by the discovery of a wild blackberry bush near our tent! The boys collected heaps of them to add to our meal of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. YUM.
Rob’s sister and her 3 gorgeous kiddos came to spend the day with us on Friday. We had so much fun hanging out with them. We walked around to the Sin Bin and spent most of the morning there. Swimming, eating, laughing, playing, talking, relaxing … and taking lots and lots of photos.
Later in the afternoon, we headed around the other side of the lake to Pine Beach. The shallows were soooo warm, and the little kids were happy playing in there for ages. Rob & Tyler rode their bikes around, and back again. A really fun experience for Tyler, who loved riding through all the bush and over stones, sand and rocks.
The next morning dawned warm and sunny. In fact, it turned out to be an absolute scorcher. Hardly a cloud in the sky, not much breeze, and HOT. Of course, this was the day we ended up walking a total of 12km. We were all a bit sore with burnt lips at the end of the day, but it was totally worth it. We started the morning with a walk up to Lake Waikete, which is about 8m higher than the other two lakes. We had a quick swim there, and then carried on walking around Lake Taharoa to Pine Beach. We stopped at several places along the way for swims and snacks (and photos).
The top of the hill between Lake Taharoa and Lake Waikete was the perfect place for photos.
There are so many lovely little places to swim around the edge of the lake, and the water looked amazing. I took entirely too many photos of the water, but I couldn’t help myself.
Back at camp, we had time for some snacks and an early dinner, before setting off on yet another hike – this time to the West coast.
The boys had wanted to toast marshmallows and make ‘smores, but there is an open fire ban at the lakes. I suggested that we do the 2.1km walk from Kai Iwi Lakes road to the rugged and isolated Ripiro Beach (which is actually longer than 90 Mile Beach further north). We left just after 7pm, giving us 2 hours to walk there, make a fire, toast marshmallows and walk back before it got dark. The walk took us across farmland, through cow paddocks, amongst the cow poo (and the actual cows!) and up a massive set of steep stairs.
The view when we stepped foot onto the sand was stunning.
We all helped collect driftwood, and Rob started a great little fire. We sharpened sticks, toasted our marshmallows and smooshed them between Chocolate Thins. Delish!
As the sun got lower and lower, I was able to get some great sunset shots. I love how these all came out, and how the colours are so different over a relatively short space of time.
We packed up camp after lunch the next day, and then drove up to Lake Waikete for one final swim. The boys were hoping to find something to jump off, and they did!
Because the next day was a public holiday, we were in no great hurry to get home. So we decided to take an extra drive north through Waipoua Forest so the boys could see Tane Mahuta, the giant kauri tree. It was raining a little but that made it even more perfect, as the native bush comes to life when it is a little damp. The boys were suitably impressed with the size of the giant trees, and declared it a worthwhile detour.
We finally got home around 9.30pm. Tired, but happy. We had to spend the next day unpacking and washing (and buying water because our tank was empty!) but it was nice having a day off work and school to get those things done. We were also glad that we didn’t have to travel home in the holiday traffic!
Overall, it was a truly wonderful camping experience in one of the most beautiful places we know. The perfect way to spend the last few days of the holidays before Ethan headed back to school on Tuesday (Tyler doesn’t start until next week). Awesome memories made, and lots of special moments shared. Yep, it doesn’t get much better than this.