All to often we can pick a spot by how close it is to the city centre but when you are wanting to get away from it all, sometimes it’s about how far you get from the city centre. And so it happened that we went to Whangarei for the night without actually going to Whangarei.
It all started with my birthday and an invite to an engagement party in Kerikeri. I’ve been absolutely busting to go anywhere after lockdowns and a run of other bad luck that’s seen us exploring only in Auckland for the past 6 months so I was immediately keen. Being my birthday weekend too meant that I got to choose where we stayed (although James did draw the line at the house bus – next time!!).
We kicked off our weekend away by taking the scenic route up SH16 rather than battling the crowds on SH1. It takes a few extra minutes but you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of Gibbs farm (more on that end of October) and some amazing views of the Kaipara Harbour. That’s James in the photo below checking out if there are frogs for me (which for some crazy reason became somewhat of a focus of our trip)
We knew we had to get to Kerikeri the next day so our stop for the night was somewhere loosely defined as far enough out of Auckland but not too far that we were driving all night. A rough pin on the map put it as Whangarei. A bit more digging saw us deciding pretty speedily on Lupton Lodge.
What attracted me to Lupton Lodge was the rural outlook (complete with orchard)…
The bright and quirky interior (James and I discovered I actually designed my kitchen at the last house almost identically)…
And it was off the beaten track (but at the same time on the way)…
Lupton Lodge is located in Glenbervie. If you are like me you will remember it as that stretch between Whangarei and Tutukaka with loads of lush greenery and flanked by the amazing drystone walls made in the 1800’s with volcanic rock.
Or you can go with the rather more boring 15 minutes out of town and very handy to SH1. Either way, it’s a winner of a location.
In the spirit of keeping off the beaten track in Whangarei we decided to stop in for dinner at Tonic in Kamo on the way.
We’d checked the reviews and it looked amazing but we did have second thoughts outside.
Turns out we didn’t need to at all. It was the perfect mix of great wine, friendly service and amazing food. All wrapped up in an unexpected package.
Tummies well and truly full after three amazing courses we arrived at Lupton Lodge.
Hosts Andy and Karen have owned this little piece of history for 15 years (a mere blink given the original Lupton House is 124 years old).
They also share a similar ethos to us with wanting to encourage tourists to go off-the-beaten-track (our reason for choosing them too).
We had a great sleep with the kind of quiet that only the country can give. Arriving at night I was keen to explore and see what was out the window. And it didn’t disappoint. Historic buildings, ivy covered buildings and an orchard to wander through.
Breakfast was included in the rather reasonable rates and was a relaxed affair and a chance to explore pool room and dining lounge. I love that they had not given in to the temptation to turn these into accomodation and instead use them to enhance the lodge feel.
Over breakfast we got chatting with our neighbours – a couple from Helensville exploring Whangarei Heads and also with owner Karen. Karen was great at giving us advice when we decided over breakfast to firstly go to Russell, secondly to take the long way.
So if you want to go to the outskirts of Whangarei we’d recommend checking out Tonic and Lupton Lodge.