A Travellerspoint blog

Ahipara

semi-overcast 13 °C

We woke up early (!) for our 8.30am pick up from the campground. Luckily, our driver was beyond hilarious and kept us in stitches for the entire day. We all boarded our luxury 1980s tour bus complete with Korean lettering plastered all over and headed off to pick up the rest of our group. Our first stop of the day was the Kauri Kingdom. Kauri trees are these giant trees that have been found perfectly preserved from hundreds and thousands of years ago and made into beautiful different things including a staircase that we wandered up and down.

We then headed out onto Highway 1 & 90 Mile Beach (which is actually part of the highway) and did a leisurely 100km down the beach stopping here and there for some picture perfect moments. We also drove through another freak rainstorm and popped out into brilliant sunshine. The next stop was the sand dunes where we partook in some sand tobogganing. To get to the sand dunes though we had to travel up a stream that was fun and muddy at the same time! As for the sand tobogganing, for Chrissy it resembled many of her trips snowboarding (serious wipeouts sans trees) while Tom had a minor wipeout. Our clothes now full of sand, we made our way back to the bus where we headed off to Cape Reigna.

The Maoris regard Cape Reigna as the departing point for spirits to their spiritual homeland in Hawaii. It is also the meeting point for the Tasman and Pacific Oceans resulting in some interesting weather conditions. Including but not limited to freak rain storms which resulted in the two of us drenched on one half of our bodies from the sideways rain and brilliant sunshine. No one ever said the weather was predictable! We then headed to a beach, which claimed the whitest sands, and the gum diggers park where we saw the remains of preserved kauri tree.

With one last stop at the Kauri Kingdom to get the buses washed which proved more entertaining than not, we headed back to the campground. We rounded out the day be watching a movie on television and heading to bed.

Posted by tc2009 10:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kaitaia

rain 10 °C

Woke up and decided to head over to the Stone Store, NZ’s oldest stone building. It was quite similar to Fort Langley with the difference being its just one building not a fortress. After checking out the store, we wandered over to the remains of the Maori Pa (fortified village), which offered up impressive views of the stone store. We could see why the Maoris decided to set up camp there. After the Stone Store, we bypassed the tour bus group, and booted it thru the pouring rain to Managnui where we had heard there were world famous fish and chips. However, due to the combination of the torrential rain and lack of parking, we decided to walk the 300 or so meters to the shop which GPS had assured us was on the right. However, there was no shop on the right instead it was on the left.

Our journey through the torrential rain was worth the effort as we were rewarded with delicious fish (and chicken for Tom) and chips, which apparently were voted the best in the country. Tom even had florescent pink sweet and sour sauce for his chicken nuggets that only further enhanced the lunchtime meal. However, we realized on the way out of town that we hadn’t in fact gone to the world famous fish and chip shop (that was further up the road and on the right) but as Tom noted it was probably for the better as the world famous probably charged exorbitant prices.

The rain is nowhere close to letting up so we continued our trek up to Kaitaia where we stopped in at the iSite and booked our trip to 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reigna for the following day. Afterwards, we headed over to the Pak N’ Save where we picked up some groceries and observed some men wandering around the van-a-ram. It turns out that they were not scoping out the valuable pink blanket inside but rather the various features on the van.

We headed out to the campsite that is quite nice and comes complete with cheap Internet, DVDs for hire, and hot showers. Time for bed as we have an early start tomorrow!

Posted by tc2009 10:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kerikeri

sunny 19 °C

For the first time during our trip we are decked out in shorts/capris, t-shirts, and flip-flops. It’s incredibly warm by our standards and we are enjoying the sun immensely. Today we headed down to Long Beach where we wandered around and collected shells. Afterwards, we caught the ferry back to Paihia where we had a delicious ice cream cone and a wander around. We then made our way over to the Waitangia Treaty Grounds where we wandered around the beautiful grounds. Chrissy fell in love with the treaty house design while Tom enjoyed checking out the Maori war canoe. However, the sun has retreated behind the ever-increasing clouds and our lovely “summer” day has come to an end. Our driving hasn’t however.

We rolled on up to Kerikeri (sorry Kari, Karikari Pennisula is up the road!) where we discovered our main reason for stopping, the movie theatre & dinner place, was closed for renovations. We did check out Manaka Chocolates (again) and Keriblue where Chrissy fell in love with their cute ceramics and Tome offered valuable insight onto which plates to buy. He was happily rewarded with a block of fudge.

Our campsite for the night tonight is a DOC site set in a forest where we encountered our first fire pit with free firewood! Tom made good work on building a welcome fire where we tried to cook potatoes in the coals but instead succeeded in burning the aluminum foil. Luckily there was pasta for dinner! After watching Ice Age 2 we headed to bed hoping to hear some kiwi calls in the dark..

Posted by tc2009 10:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Russell

sunny 14 °C

It’s a beautiful day ahead of us and we took our time leaving the campground. Our first stop of the day was to check out the flower clock in the town centre which was unfortunately quite dead at the time of viewing so we moved on to our next adventure: the CAR WASH!!! After 4 weeks in the van-a-ram, we decided it was time for a bath. We are not sure if the van-a-ram enjoyed being covered in pink foam but when all was said & done, it was quite sexy looking.

We now began the trek to the Bay of Islands where we stopped off at Hunterwassen’s toilets that were quite interesting to say the least. They are difficult to describe so check out the pictures of them. Afterwards, we checked out the railway tracks that went directly thru town. New Zealand enjoys personal interaction with their trains and likes to invite them to all public areas (including the train). We then caught the ferry to Russell, which costs us $11 for a 5-minute ride. We did pass by the ‘Ogopogo’ sailboat complete with lovely rendition of Oggie on the side.

Russell is a lovely little town full of charm and history. Although now it is a quaint little town, it used to be full of bar brawls, fistfights, and prostitutes. This can be attested by observing NZ’s oldest church (conveniently located in town) being full of original bullet/musket holes from many of the bar fights and brawls. We decided to check out Flagstaff Hill but missed the turnoff and instead randomly found (apparently) NZ’s most expensive accommodations according to Lonely Planet, which also states it is a difficult property to locate.

Deciding to begin the trek to locate the DOC site for the night would have been easier had GPS not thrown a hissy fit and sent us down a gravel road. Abandoning that effort quite rapidly, we turned around and headed back to the campground we saw on the way out of town. Deciding to reward ourselves on our brilliant avoidance of the gravel road, we had fish & chips takeaways. Sadly, the fish wasn’t that impressive but Tom’s burger was uber delicious. After dinner, we played an invigorating game of Monopoly before retiring for the night.

Posted by tc2009 02:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Whangarei

overcast 11 °C

Today is our big drive upwards. Driving thru Auckland was quite similar to driving in the lower mainland and made Chrissy quite excited to come back and explore. We also discovered a new road addition just outside of Auckland – the toll road. However this toll is unlike any of the spectacular toll roads that formally resided on the way to Vancouver. This one was on an honour system with motorists stopping at a ‘service block’ (a gas station combined with a mini mall) to purchase an “expensive” toll ticket ($2).

To use this self-service machine, one enters the license plate of the car they are in and the system pulls up the make, model, & year of the car being issued the toll. We also found out that Chrissy has been giving the wrong license plate number out so apologies to all who thought we were in a 1984 Subaru. The toll booth was pretty fascinating as well as it involved literally thousands of cameras pointed in all directions which captured the license plates and checked if you had paid or not – no ticket equals the owner a letter from the government and a fine. FUN!!!!

The drive to Whangarei was not full of anything special however there are always cows and sheep to amuse us. The latest amusement entails us quoting “…that’ll do pig, that’ll do…” whenever we pass sheep. This can sometimes get tiring depending on the amount of sheep passed in a day but nonetheless, entertaining. We stopped at the iSite outside of Whangarei (where they have quite nice bathrooms by and by) where the told us of a lovely campground about 15 minutes out with the added bonus of free Internet!

To get to the campground, we trekked on out but however we were met by an opposing behemoth motorhome driving directly at us just outside the entrance. Accident avoided, we checked in where we discovered the couple that ran the campground were from Nanamio of all places! With cheap laundry, free Internet, and oceanfront views we are in heaven!

Posted by tc2009 02:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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