We rose very early, in order to get to Shakespear Regional Park before sunrise. The roads were silent and black as we made our way north, and as we drove we hugged the coast, while the edges of the world tinted rosy pink.
Auckland city is a great base for travelling to a wide variety of distinctly New Zealand landscapes. Just an hour or two driving can find you following a river or valley, in a gorge, near the mountains, or by the sea. This morning, within an hour on the empty road, we reached Shakespear Regional park. From Whangaparoa, we followed on round Gulf Harbour, to arrive at this beautiful reserve.
We were met by a symphony of native birds calling in the new day. Pohutakawa trees thronged the coastline, and sandy beaches dipped into the still waters of the Hauraki Gulf. As the sun came up, cicadas began their deafening cricketing amongst the native bush. We had the enjoyment of watching the sun rise up over the ocean, and the easy picking of an overnight spot for the van. Despite it being summer, there were plenty of free spaces for either a camper or a tent, and lots of privacy amongst the trees.
We spent the day swimming just meters from where we had parked the van for our stay in the park, and eating a picnic lunch on the beach. The van was kitted out with utensils, plates, bowls, cups, and even a chilly bin, so it was easy to take our food with us down to the beach.
After lunch, we went for the short walk to Waterfall Gully. From Army Bay, it is an easy and short walk to this beautiful waterfall. There was a viewing platform from which to take in the waterfall, and we spent some time soaking up the natural surroundings. As New Zealand’s most visited and accessible open conservation sanctuary, Shakespear Regional Park is uniquely clean, green and pest free. The native plant and wildlife here is absolutely thriving, and we had a great time listening out for birdcalls and spotting tui and kereru in the trees.
We cooked a Chinese stir-fry for dinner, at the back of our trusty van. The weather was pleasant, so we dined in the best possible way: outside in the camping chairs, under Pohutakawa trees, looking out over the ocean. The sun went down as we slurped tea and played cards in the comfort of our cosy home on wheels.
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