To start with the most northerly sight, the small town of Waipu, home to less than 2,000 people.
I’ve seen a lot of beaches over the course of my travels, but the one at Waipu is up there as one of the most impressive I’ve visited, a beautiful spot.
With an attractively painted toilet block…
Langs Beach just down the road wasn’t bad either.
Waipu Museum told well the story of Norman McLeod and his followers. A strict Scottish Protestant preacher, during the clearances of the highlands he led over 1,000 people to Nova Scotia. They lived there for about 30 years until economic challenges and the offer of land in Waipu encouraged them to make the move to New Zealand.
Half an hour drive south Mangawhai Heads offered more impressive beaches and coastal views, though I wasn’t expecting the vast spread of houses behind them, there has been huge growth over the past decade.
Further south Omaha is a popular place for often extravagant baches (Kiwi holiday homes). It’s about an hour north of Auckland CBD and lies on a sandspit that nearly blocks the Whangateau Harbour.
Toward the west coast is the diverting Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens. Nearly 25 years old, along the 1km trail are around 60 sculptures, which change every November.
Helensville is a small historic town close to the southern end of the Kaipara Harbour. As well as heritage buildings it has funky public toilets.
The main feature of the Helensville Railway Museum is an 11m long model railway reflecting the station and surrounding area in the early 1940s.
The Helensville Museum & Pioneer Village was better than expected. Opened in 1970, it had a number of heritage buildings and a wealth of information about the local area.
To finish with the view of Auckland CBD from the North Shore before heading over the Harbour Bridge. Not the most impressive skyline in the world but always a welcome sight.