A Travellerspoint blog

Paihia - Cape Reinga, 90 mile beach - Auckland

sunny 16 °C
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We only stayed in Whangarei for a night and headed away early to get to Paihia further north so we could have more time in the Bay of Islands. The drive up the east coast is fab and its scattered with beaches, coves and small picturesque villages. We stopped at Cooper beach for lunch , a gorgeous spot where the sands and stones are actually a pink colour..and meet some cool birds too!




We drove on up to a place called Kawakawa where its famous for its toilets.. i have to say the nicest public ones we have come across!




we stopped at Paihia for a bit and caught up on some email and washing..before heading up to the tip of the north island cape Reinga and 90 mile beach. Our ezy cruisa wasnt allowed drive on the sand so we booked on a cool tour to take us all around the beach and dunes.

We booked into another motor camp Top 10 and it was class as it was right beside the beach so it was right and handy for them to come get us in the morning for the day tour. It also had an interesting way of pot planting too!


We all piled on this big beach buggy still bus and headed up the 90 mile beach it was class, the sea was a bit rough but we wanted a bit of wind as the next stop was sand surfing! We all got out and were given plastic toboggan things and away we went up these massive dunes, and told to simply keep your feet in and go for it! It was class although the climb to the top was a killer but you got some speed coming down!




and yes we had some fallers - Ger just before he crashed out!



We stayed here a good bit before heading on up to the tip and the lighthouse, it felt like a real achievment for us both as we had been from the southern tip of the south island and now we had arrived at cape reinga at the northern tip of the north island...it was a great way to round off our driving adventures round NZ.





We stopped just at a beach round from the lighthouse for lunch before we started the 2 hour drive back down the beach for sunset.


But we left our mark on one of the glass/silicon squeaky beaches we stopped at which was lovely..


We arrived back down at beach for sunset and it was great, it was practically god like looking at the sky!




Ger looking very cool on the beach!!


We were heading away the following morning to get back to Auckland to srop off the van - finally! but we stopped off at the Kauri Kingdom to see the worlds largest wooden staircase first! - pretty cool place with loads of class carvings, thankfully says ger none of them small enough to buy and bring with us!






It took us about 4 hours to drive to Dargaville about half way to Auckland so we stopped here for the night , but the drive down through the Kauri forest with huge tress was mad and we even managed to stop off for some sight seeing and rubgy playing!


We arrived into Auckland the next day at about 1 and said goodbye to our wee cruisa van... we had clocked up 4973km in it driving and it has been one of the highlights and achievements we have done so far - if you want to test a relationship that is the way forward! All good memories though.

So we booked into our hotel for the next 2 nights staying in Auckland and i have to say it was great to have space again and a proper bathroom! Auckland is a pretty cool place and teh skytower is class, i was going to jump off it but thought i would save the money and look for a sky dive somewhere as well as i am craving to that more..the views were class though and some building looked as though they had tv's on them..




Apart from chilling out, going to the sky tower the only other place we seen in Auckland was the kelly Tarlton's underwater world - great for kids so we gave it a go and i have to say the best thing about it is the snow mobile ride through the penguins ice home where you can get up close and personal with even the baby ones..



We left Auckland on wednesday the 27th June heading for San Francisco and the next stage! But NZ had been great from start to finish and hopefully we will get to go back to do the tongariro crossing some day!

Posted by geranddebs 18:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Waitomo Caves - Whangarei

sunny 15 °C
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We had been looking forward to the caves as a highlight for the end of our tour of NZ - basically you booked a day up in Waitomo that included an abseil down into the caves, cave walking, black water rafting, rock climbing and floating through the huge glow worm caves ( these had been shown on planet earth!).
We meet up again with our pal Jess and we all booked 3 nights to stay up there so we had plenty of time to chill out before and after our day out. All around Waitomo there is loads to do and we spent one of the days driving out to the Peri Peri caves, the fossilized oysters and a huge natural limestone bridge that just looked like the lost boys cave!









That night when we got back we were going to go the bar - the only one in town... but it shut at 7! can you believe it so we had to make do with cans in the van.. just as well though as we had to be up early at 730 the following morning for our caving adventure..
Up bright and early that morning and the weather was cold, damp and miserable and when our tour giude drove us out to a feild and told us to put on our swim suits and get into wet wellies, and wetsuits we were all having second thoughts!
Our tour guide was the spit for Tom Cruise but he was sound out and soon got us in the spirit of things especially when he got me to go first abseiling down 30m into the caves, and it wasnt the abseil that you do at the side of a building this one you are just hanging in mid air... i dont think he realised girls could shot or give off as much but all he did was laugh and take photos of us!
So one by one we all abseiled down into the caves - it was amazing and once you took that initial step off the cliff you were grand - well you had to be really!

We all got into the caves and the water down there was freezing but once you stayed in it long enough you couldnt feel it and everything went numb... Ger said he developed a second belly button for the first time in his life..haha!
Cruz the tour giude started us cave walking into the dark and then once the water got too deep we got into our tubes for some black water rafting - this was fab! You went down through the caves and over rocks and waterfalls and yes of course myself and Jess went on our ass'... At one stage all i could see were my 2 legs heading for my head in a backward tumble effect - well funny though!







After the falls and stopping for some chocolate and hot juice we headed back via the glowcaves - millions of them that lit up the whole cave - it was amazing well worth the trip.


The journey back was through crevases, under rocks and more black water rafting and once we got back we each had to rock climb up the cliff face back to the top and once again funny man Cruz made me go first... it was just as well i didnt manicure my nails as it was tough getting back up especially in big water filled wellies!
We all made it back in one piece anyway and then had to strip off and got hot showers and soup which were very welcomed. Back at the camp we were definitely deserved a pint for our achievements - "self appreciation society" - Ger even treated himself to a spa lol
Next morning we all headed north - we were going to Whangarei for a night stop over just - well that was once we got the van towed out of the camp after Ger got us stuck in the mud reversing!!

Posted by geranddebs 18:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Rotorua - Matamata

sunny 15 °C
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We met up again with our chum Jess in Roturua so we booked into stay for 2-3 nights so we could all chill out a bit. The stink bomb smell was everywhere but we got used to it and at least it covered up other boy smells in the van!
There is a big choice of things to do here but mostly they involve visiting geysers, doing the kiwi night walk and taking part in a cultural maori village social night - so we all booked all 3!

We started with the Rainbow Springs night walk around a man made centre place, but it was all done out in low lit fairy lights and small small streams everywhere with swans and loads of fish in them - quite a romantic setting really..
But they also had an indoor and an outdoor kiwi house and we were well excited as we hadnt seen any yet.

In the indoor one we seen one kiwi but it was sleeping and didnt move but they were bigger than we imagined and when we got to the outdoor enclosure there was one running around the place so we got to have a good look. they are very scared of humans and are really quite weird looking as their beaks are very long but they have no wings so they just look like they are going to fall straight on their faces!

The following day we decided to go to a place called Te Puia to watch the geysers - one in particular that shot up to 30 metres every hour, this was very cool and definitely worth the $35 in! It was huge and all around the enclosure were mud pools and fantastic rock formations and colours.






Around the geysers the ground is so hot its class and everyone is lying on it nice and toastie just waiting on the geyser to explode its hot water.. We got chatting to these chinese guys while waiting one of which said he would make me a princess if i went back to China with him!


After politely declining the offer we headed to the free maori concert in the same place. It was really great as they all dressed traditionally and brought us into the "charenui" - meeting place, and sang songs and then invited people up to join in for the finishing Haka...so yes Ger volunteered along with all the other boyfriends and husbands in the group..it was hilarious watching them trying to imitate the NZ all blacks but Ger seemed to fit in nicely!





We finished here and met up with Jess to head out for a full nights craic at a real maori village called Mitai, where they give you a traditional dinner caled the Hangi. Basically it was a sunday dinner cooked in an oven in the earth and it was absolutely gorgeous - lamb, chicken, roasties, corn, stuffing and even gravy!



After dinner the show started and they wanted a voulteer from our crowd of about 100 people to be the maori 'chief' for the night on stage, and yes once again Ger was volunteered - heehee...
It was hilarious as he was part of the act and they where showing him where and what to do and say - needless to say this was a once in a lifetime moment when i had to bow to him and refer to him as chief!! but it was well funny, raging though he didnt have his dubs jersey on at the time though!



In the morning we said goodbye to Jess and headed for Matamata - the LOR official location for the filming of Hobbiton ( ger was well excited)..
We got there in good time and booked on the tour for $50 each and they take you out on the bus to the farmers land that was used. It was a pretty cool layout but because all the farmers sheep still graze the hills, all the fronts and gates etc from the wee hobbitholes had to be removed as they were eating the props left behind! So unfortunately now its just whiteboards but it was still cool to walk around and in them and even more so for Ger!





We were going to stay in Matamata for the night but decided to head on to the Waitomo caves for our caving trip. We should have been there in about 2 hours but we thought we would take a shortcut - this didnt work and we ended up getting into waitomo camp 4 hours later!
Ah well we had a beer to laugh about it after!

Posted by geranddebs 18:22 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Tongariro National Park - Taupo

sunny 14 °C
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We had driven straight from Wellington up the middle of the island to get to the Tongariro National Park as we wanted to do the crossing. But as it turned out once we got there we realised this wasnt going to happen as the snow had arrived just before us and cut off the path!
Snow was everywhere and even though it was amazing to look at we were gutted that it was closed so the Mordor mountain (Mt Doom) crossing from LOR would have to wait to another day!





Instead we opted for the walks that were still ok but we were warned that we needed to be back by mid afternoon before the next big snowfall was due...
We managed to go trekking for about 2-3 hours to the Taranaki waterfalls at the base of the mountain, it was clear enough that morning and the scenery was spectacular and even though Ger is the big LOR fan the mt doom mountain looked very impressive!



From Tongariro we drove north to Lake taupo as we wanted to get back down the mountains before the snow came... so we left the Whakapapa village and headed back onto the thermal highway..
Taupo was a lovely stop, nice quaint shops all set around the huge lake - biggest in NZ..We stayed the night here and got to stock up on beer, check mail, and go shopping! NZ is famed for its wool; mohair, merino possum etc so i wasnt leaving without some samples!!
The following morning we made a big dent in the credit card before leaving but you would only be there once was my moto....

We headed north out of Taupo then and had a list of places we wanted to see on the way to Roturua. First stop was the Huka Falls - a massive amount of water that was so powerful, it was amazing to watch...





Just next to the falls was an area called "Craters of the moon". The so called craters were brilliant as they looked exactly like craters - the smell was horrendous though!
Basically you walked around this area (about 5 fields in size) and everywhere you looked there were these huge holes with steam rising out from them and they all made gurgling, hissing noises too....It looked like they were small volcanos about to erupt.. well cool!



We drove on towards Roturua stopping again at a Lava glass making company to watch and sample their stuff..




Just before we reached Roturua we stopped for lunch in the van just beside some very active mud pools!
these things stunk and in hindsight not the best place for eating lunch, but we could have stayed there all day watching them. The whole place was just boiling and bubbling away and all around us they would explode sending mud flying in all directions. The noises they made were class it was like one massive farting cushion - a smell i couldnt blame Ger for this time!!




Posted by geranddebs 18:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Hanmer Springs - Picton - Wellington

sunny 12 °C
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From Kaikoura we went to Hanmer Springs, famous for its large outdoor thermal pools and spas. You follow the thermal highway in this part of the island so its very easy to find everything..


I didnt think Ger would have went for the spa but we got there and ended up booking a private thermal pool and entry after to all the other 9 pools! It was cool but very weird as it was 9 degrees outside and freezing but 38 degrees in the water so when you got out you had icicles on your hair! well either that or myself and Ger are starting to show our age and our going grey!

But it was cool because you could stay in there for as long as you wanted, however i had forgotten to take off my jewellery so 2 hours later after coming out of the sulphur pools it had all turned black and tarnished...oops!

From here we travelled north via Nelson (and Burger king!) to Picton to get the ferry to the north island. The roads felt and looked like we were in Italy and Ger and I were both getting dizzy with the curvy winding roads....On the roads though it was cool because there really isnt much traffic in the south island, most of what is there are rental cars and vans.
The Ezy Cruisa folks like us are all over the place in their own wee vans and when you pass one on the road everyone is all smiles and waves at each other, it was as if we were all a big family and we had been let loose around the country to explore and when you get chatting to others its the same stories of routes, food and alcohol each time - well funny though!

We got across on the ferry no bother, its a 3hour crossing and we arrived in Wellington in good time in the morning. Immediately we noticed more traffic, cars and people. It was a nice place though and easy enough to drive around and get parking. We also had friendly neighbours in our camp that joined us for breakfast!!


We only spent 2 days here though as we were anxious to get further north and spend more time in Roturua/Tongariro and Waitomo. So the only things we did in Wellington was to go up the cable car and visit the Te Papa museum.






The cable car was grand but the views werent as good as we had expected, but the museum was class.. It was massive and had 5 floors with loads of interactive stuff to do!
On one of the floors was a murder mystery and you had to go around this centre looking for clues as to how and who killed the museum professor! it was well funny and we reckon we solved it by the end of the day...we felt like Poirot and Jessica Fletcher it was good craic!

On the top floor thay have a sculpture terrace as well with like random things showing, very different stuff but cool and in this sculpture it was supposed to reflect the greatness of NZ and the winnebago and the need to travel! Very apt we thought...


Posted by geranddebs 20:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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