Another Nz4wheelers trip:
As Queen’s birthday arrived and we officially clicked over into the Winter season, colder
southerly winds and frequent showers as expected make getting a group of people together
to go overlanding somewhat more challenging.
Having done Pouto four/five times already, we were keen do something different and after
watching a video from NZ 4WD and the Kaitaia 4×4 club heading through the Gumfields
track in Ahipara, it was an easy choice and our destination was chosen.
A smaller than usual group of three trucks left Auckland mid-day Friday with a very rough
Friday – Drive to Kaitaia, Head to 90 Mile Beach Holiday Park, stay overnight in a cabin
Saturday – Drive to Ahipara, Hit the gumfields track, explore Ahipara and camp out
Sunday – Meetup with Lars from NZ 4WD and Kaitaia 4×4 club for a day in the Aupouri
What actually happened….
The drive up was interesting, torrential rain compounded by large trucking units rolling past
spraying huge amounts of water over oncoming traffic made a long journey even longer. We
arrived in Kaitaia about 4:30, fueled up, grabbed some Fish and Chips from the main street
and headed to the 90 Mile Holiday Park.
The cabin we rented was 90 dollars for myself and two boys, the cabin included a queen and
single bed. The bathroom was small, however clean and functional. The Holiday park is
situated less than a minute drive from the beach and overall, I’d recommend checking it out.
Up early and straight to the beach entrance just down the road from the holiday park. There
is something about getting onto the beach for the first time on a trip, it could be the coastal
air, sand under your feet, the sound of the ocean, or all of them combined, but if you enjoy
driving up the beach you’ll know exactly what I mean.
We took a few photos at the beach, headed into Kaitaia for some breakfast and then
headed off to Ahipara with some directions Lars was kind enough to send through the night
before to make finding the Gumfields track easy. We stopped on a section of Gumfields
road marked by a pile old tyres and the ruminants of an old flag, then headed in towards a
rustic house located on the left hand side of the road. We were greeted by a guy who asked
us to sign a log book and accepted our offer of a small Koha (donation) he pointed us
towards the track and warned that a few hunters had passed through the day before and
needed help getting out.
It was obvious very early on that the track we had seen Lars and the Kaitaia 4×4 club pass
through was going to be a lot more challenging than we had expected because of all the rain
which had fallen in the last 24 hours.
After passing through a couple of water holes we were confronted by a steep rutted drop into
more rutted tracks, it was at this point we realised that once we dropped in, this was a one-way trip.
After 10-20 minutes of discussing our options, we decided that because we only had a single
winch between three trucks and we didn’t want huge amounts of panel damage, we would
come back and attempt the Gumfields track another day. It’s always disappointing to back
out of plans, however later around the camp fire we all agreed it was the right decision as
we had come to Ahipara to see as much as possible, not to get stuck in a track and need to
We headed back to Shipwreck Bay, luckily the tide was still low and we made an easy
journey around the rocks past the drift wood huts and down to the far end of Ahipara. As
you can see from one of the photos I managed to find quick sand with the entire left hand
side of the truck sinking in a split second. Luckily one of the trucks was fitted with a new
Novawin winch, a snatch block and a tree strap we used to anchor the lighter Hilux to the 80
series Landcruiser before pulling my 3 ton truck out of the quick sand.
We headed down to the far end of beach to the tracks which are cut into the hills, obviously
from many trucks attempting many hill climbs over the years. We took the only track not
washed out and managed to get to the top after engaging the lockers, the track is very steep
and heavily rutted presenting a challenge for any truck with open diffs. The view from the
top was sensational, if you can’t get your truck up, head up on foot and take in the view of
one of NZ’s most amazing coastlines you’ll ever find.
As we headed into the late afternoon, we knew that with the overcast weather we didn’t
have a lot of light left so we scouted around and found a nice area with some grass to make
camp. An effortless setup with Swags and our Roof Top Tent meant that dinner was on the
go in no time and a fire was setup with just before dark. It’s amazing how a long day of off-
roading takes it out of you, we all thought it was around 9:30pm when in fact a quick check
of the time revealed it was only 6:30pm. The weather forecast was bang on, an overcast
night with relatively low amounts of wind made for a relaxing time around the camp fire.
Later that night just before bed the wind picked up and got fairly wild overnight, luckily we
were all tired and the sound of the RTT and Swags getting thrashed in the wind didn’t keep
We woke the next day late, a quick call out around camp had everyone packing for an 8am
departure down the beach to meetup with NZ 4WD and the Kaitaia 4×4 club for the Aupouri
The tide was a lot higher than anticipated and the trip back took longer than expected,
luckily other club people were still turning up and we didn’t keep anyone waiting. A quick
introduction to some of the local club members and we were off on our adventure in the
forest. Getting in touch with local clubs and joining in on club runs is a great way to meet
new people and to get to know the area.
The forest trip was a lot of fun, it was a shiny run with nothing too extreme however we did
pass through a nice swamp section and needed to get the spade out for some digging to
allow some of the bigger trucks to drive down into a washout rather than straddle between
the tree line and the edge of the washout.
A good group of trucks, a great group of people over the weekend made another
memorable trip. We didn’t make it up to the lighthouse or get through the Gum Fields track
this time so it’s safe to say we have more un-finished business, if you’ve kept up to date
with our previous trip reports, we always settle un-finished business… watch this space!
– Brian Norris @RuggedLife