The southern tip of the Pouto Peninsula on Northland's west coast is an undeniable gem. With a rugged but accessible coastline, fascinating history and a multitude of recreational activities to choose from the destination was begging to be ticked off Northern Advocate production/ digital editor Nick Unkovich's road trip list.
And so it was (ticked off) during an unseasonably tranquil few days last month.
Located 67km south of Dargaville, Pouto Point is at the end of the road - literally. There's nowhere else to go except across the treacherous entrance to the Southern Hemisphere's largest harbour, the mighty Kaipara, to South Head in the Auckland region - by boat.
Arriving at Pouto, the Marine Hall campground is easy to find. It's the only place to stay except for several private residences offering accommodation.
A two hour return walk north along the harbour shoreline, at about mid-tide, was intriguing. One could only speculate on how old rusting vehicle parts and rubble had arrived embedded in sand hard up against the cliff base.
The dissolving steel must have tumbled down over the years as the farmland eroded away.
There were also interesting layers of a soft, black clay-like substance at the high tide mark and a huge tree trunk. There must have been a massive tide for it to arrive at that spot.
The evening was calm. The full moon illuminated the harbour's peaceful waters and landscape.
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Camp facilities are in a restored 1879 kauri building, which was New Zealand's first Custom House. The campground hosts were very welcoming and passionate about the area, offering helpful advice.
Their information proved reliable. The next day we made our way around to the historic lighthouse - leaving about an hour into the outgoing tide - on bicycles.
The 7km journey along the northern shore of the harbour and back takes about five hours walking. We took our time exploring, taking in the breathtaking scenery.
The hardest part was the 15 minute climb up the sand dunes to the wooden lighthouse built in 1884 and now protected by the Historic Places Trust. At one time this harbour was the busiest in New Zealand with sailing ships carrying out the region's valuable kauri timber and gum.
At the midway point of the cycle ride, there was a field of what appeared to be petrified timber embedded in more of that soft, black clay-like substance. It must have tumbled down the cliff recently.
The timing was excellent as the tide was approaching the bottom of the curve, cycling back to the campground was easier on a firmer sand base.
So glad to have made the effort.