Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Peninsula Retreat

Carrington, Karikari Peninsula, Far North. Image supplied by Heritage Hotels.
Many years ago – and I mean around thirty years ago – when I lived in Auckland, we holidayed at Coopers Beach in the Far North. It was a tiny little beach settlement then – a sprinkling of summer holiday baches, a camping ground, a store and not much else. That was the beauty of it – that and the beautiful, remote, white sand beaches that you had entirely to yourself. The best of all were the stunning sandy stretches on Karikari Peninsula, a tiny finger of land that poked out off the end of Matai Bay. The beaches were sublime and nobody lived there. It’s a different story today. When I travelled there in 1999 for the first edition of Frommers New Zealand, I was staggered at how built-up the whole area had become. As disappointed as I still am that ‘remote’ and ‘unpopulated’ are a thing of the past, it is nice to see beautiful retreats like Carrington springing up to accommodate the well-heeled visitor. Set on a 3,000 acre estate with 4 kilometres of secluded beach, it comes complete with 900 acres of restored wetland, a working cattle farm and New Zealand’s northernmost vineyard and winery. (They had their first vintage in 2003 and the new, state-of-the-art winery was completed in 2004). I’m heading up there again soon – for Frommers 6th edition – and I hope to check out that 4-kilometre secluded beach – if only in the interests of nostalgia. It’s not a bad way to escape a Christchurch winter.

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