Sunday, February 28, 2010

Northland Adventures

The day I drove into Pakiri Beach north of Leigh in the sunny north of the North Island, the sun was not long up, it was already warm and I had the beach entirely to myself - except for a rather nasty bull terrior that decided I looked like a juicy snack!

It's one of those places I now have on my list of 'Places I Must Return To.' The whole area has a rich Maori history and not far away, Te Kiri Marae at Leigh is also worth a visit. As I've mentioned many times, I love driving down side roads but as I was just setting out and had a long journey ahead of me (all the way out to the tip of Karikari Peninsula with at least a dozen side trips along the way), I decided against turning down the road that led to Laly and Sharley Haddon's Pakiri Beach Horse Rides. Descended from Te Kiri of Ngati Wai, an ancient Maori chief and his daughter, Rahui, they would have been the perfect people to give me all the details about the area. They live on the land that has been handed down through generations and with a wealth of experience in farming and horses, they've branched out into tourism with their riding venture. The family farm, Taurere covers 2,000 acres of east coast Northland and includes a private beach and around 130 horses. They offer a number of multi-day horse riding options, most of which include an introduction to the Maori history of the area. I can't think of a better way to get to know this isolated and otherwise private stretch of lower Northland.

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