Kerikeri to Whangaroa
Head north on a wonderful tour of the coast. From Kerikeri take SH10 and turn off to Matauri Bay. Back in 1814, Samuel Marsden, began his mission here. The Anglican Chaplain for New South Wales, Marsden would earn enough respect to be dubbed the, 'Saint Augustine of New Zealand'. The Samuel Marsden Memorial Church was built in memory of his historic efforts of peace between the Ngati Kuri Iwi and surrounding tribes. The Ngati Kuri own the bay to this day and built the Ngau Kura's ancestral waka or canoe which is now berthed at the shore.
The haunting Rainbow Warrior Memorial stands at the top of Matauri Bay Hill. In 1985, Auckland became the central stage of a drama which shook the world. The Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace ship docked in Auckland Harbour in preparation for a protest mission against nuclear testing by the French in the north of Tahiti. The French had other ideas. Explosions blew at the side of the boat, killing Fernando Pereira, a Portuguese photographer, and sinking the ship. The initial shock led to an investigation that would leave everyone horrified. As it turned out, the saboteurs were no simple terrorists but secret service agents employed by the French government. The explosives travelled by submarine to a yacht from Parengarenga Harbour and then via a Kombi van driven to Auckland by agents in the guise of tourists. The tragedy would become a farce. As a more powerful nation, the French used their economical and political might to turn the tide in their favour for a second time. The two agents who had actually been caught were imprisoned on a French Pacific island. They managed to spend less than a mere two years for their heinous crime before returning to France where they were greeted as heroes. A decade after this drama another ship named the Rainbow Warrior responded to France's decision to recommence nuclear testing in Mururoa in the Pacific. Unlike her predecessor she did reach the area but was stormed by French marines when she hit the exclusion zone.
The waters off the coast of Motutapere Island in the Cavalli Islands became the final resting ground for the remains of the Rainbow Warrior with the mast being housed in the maritime museum in Dargaville.
From Matauri Bay to Whangaroa the road is largely unsealed. The bumpy ride is worth astounding views over the bays and headlands as well as the solitude on the deserted beaches of Te Ngaire Bay, Wainui Bay, Mahinepua Bay and Tauranga Bay.