At Whangarei I find the Tutukaka road and head for Glenbervie, about 10km from town, a pretty place of orchards and old stone walls. I’m staying here, at Lupton Lodge, an historic villa owned by Andy and Karen.
The lodge is halfway between Whangarei and Tutukaka and close enough to attract both weekday business folk and weekend divers and surfers. It has three guest rooms. Karen shows me to the Red Room at the front of the house, a large suite with polished kauri floors and deep-red walls. A large flat-screen TV and DVD player sit on a leather-topped desk. The king-size bed looks inviting, as does the leather couch. There’s a dressing room and an ensuite bathroom. A heat pump is doing a good job. Perfect.
Elsewhere in the house is a large kitchen where Andy makes breakfasts and pre-arranged dinners, a cosy sitting room and a breakfast room. A few steps away is a separate games room with a well-patronised pool table. There’s a pretty garden and a 10-metre swimming pool.
…we drive out to the coast – Ngunguru, Tutukaka, Matapouri and finally Sandy Bay. From here you can loop back to Whangarei via Hikurangi, but we linger on the beach and then drive back down Woolleys Bay and stroll out to rocky Whale Bay, a good fishing spot, Murray tells me.
On the way back to Tutukaka, we stop at Tawapou, a native plant nursery and gardens run by Guy and Sandra Bowden. It’s a fabulous place to shop for natives, and fun, too, because Guy is also an imaginative artist and his beautifully worked creations – eels, fish and the occasional person – peer out from among plants and bush. We reach Tutukaka at lunchtime and make for the marina and Schnappa Rock, an iconic restaurant and bar run by Nick Keane and Esther Eves, who took it over five years ago and have added a Pacific tone to both décor and menu. We hoe into plump green-lipped mussels in a chilli and lemongrass liquor and pan-fried snapper.
On the way back to town we drop in to Glenbervie Pottery Gallery, where sculptor Jin Ling and ceramic artist Greg Baron live and work in an earth-built house, studio and gallery. Jin Ling’s serene figures dot the grounds, while Greg’s finely wrought stone and porcelain pots fill the gallery.
No visit to Whangarei would be complete without seeing the photogenic Whangarei Falls, which tumble 26m into a swimming hole about 5km north-east of town. There’s a walkway that takes you all the way to the Town Basin, which is where we’re headed, though not on foot.
Source: The Best Weekends & Short Breaks Magazine – Sept 2010