Doubtless Bay is touted as the ‘ultimate absolute beachfront’ destination in Northland. It was autumn, and past swimming for me – but it is still a beautiful time to walk and explore, and the weather was crisp and clear.
Carrington Resort is one of NZ’s luxury destinations – now with the Heritage Hotel chain it is set on the magical Karikari Peninsula. Its lovely low level traditional buildings are clustered on a knoll overlooking the golf course. We were welcomed warmly by Marara in reception and soon found we could borrow a golf cart and drive out to the beach – which of course we did. We watched the sun set over the sea and walked along a gorgeous empty beach – almost tempted to a swim.
At dinner our Czech waiter brought us a fabulous meal of local ingredients, it was a treat to spend a night there – I felt wonderfully pampered. Next day we had lunch at the nearby Carrington Winery – on a long table outside overlooking the vista of sea and sky.
Next day we headed for the fishing village of Mangonui where we stayed at the Mangonui Hotel – $80 a double room with a million dollar view of the harbour and boats. The only thing you have to eat while in Mangonui is the world famous fish and chips – served in newspaper and eaten simply by the water. Breakfast was in The Waterfront Café where I had a great coffee, and potato hash with mushrooms in a creamy sauce.
Mangonui was a wonderful contrast to Carrington – both fantastic experiences that prove in New Zealand you do not have to spend a lot of money to have the best time – if you want style and luxury you can find that, but you can also find simple and magic hospitality on a budget.
On our way south we detoured via Matauri Bay where the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior was sunk. I had never been on that road – another fabulous NZ drive around quiet coastal settlements, with the magical Cavali Islands just off shore. I decided I want to come back here and camp and kayak for a week.
I live near the best beach in Northland – Uretiti Beach, but Doubtless Bay had more variety – long peninsulas, sheltered bays, off shore islands. Well worth the visit.