New Zealand - first 2 weeks - North Island......whirlwind
Flew into Auckland on the 25th Feb after a messy goodbye to the boys and girls in Sydney. Auckland was cool, so quiet compared to Sydney but a nice change. It's HOT, the tan is back on! - Kiwi's we could find (amongst all the irish and english) are generally mint, down to earth simple folk. Spent 3 nights in city, met up with Nat first time in 3 years - she's getting married in 2 weeks so may crash the wedding. The harbour was really cool and we found some amazing seafood Tom Yum in the local asian food court!
Took a boat to Waiheke island from Auckland Harbour - unreal place, beautiful scenery, ridiculously good wine and food - had a giggle with 2 Girls from Ipswich and crashed at the ropey snow and surf hostel in Auckland!! Nice.
Needed to sort some transport for the next 6 weeks - after much searching opted for the Micro Camper!! an estate nissan with some camping gear and a bed in the back - cramped not the word. Auckland not saying much so head north towards the Bay of Islands on the Tuesday.
Route 1 to Whangarei - sorted the ipod so some beats in the motor. Some nice scenery - UK on one side, French alps on the other!!! Managed to get right up to Bay of Islands - Beautiful - and jacked our camper up in Paihia on the waterfront. the Waitangi treaty grounds are worth a look and we felt a boat trip to the islands was a must... the whole boat were promised Dolphins but none to be seen - on a sneaky trip below deck to the back of the boat i managed to be the only one to see the little blighters following the boat - the hoard of Japanese tourists and their cameras must have been gutted. Saw a few huge flying fish then headed back to shore to get our camp stove dinner and some schwellies...we're caaaamping!
Thursday night, after a quick look in Russell (first town in NZ - very boring) drove North towards Doubtless Bay via the Harura Falls. Steve, Our kiwi friend from Tonga suggested Manganoui as a spot - Such a cool town, Picturesque Little fishing village literally bordering the lake and leading into Coopers Beach and Taipa on Doubtless Bay. Should have stayed in Taipa, caught the sunset right on the bay but decided to press on and manged a free night in the top 10 holiday park at Lake Ngatu - 90 mile beach - much needed shower!!
Friday pushed us up to the Northern tip of NZ Cape Reinga where the Tasman sea and Pacific meet - very impressive you can actually see the 2 oceans colliding - Tasman was flexing the guns on this particular day! Legend has it it's the departure point for lost Maori souls hmmm. some ropey driving conditions but again impressive scenery so well worth a trip.
From here we checked out NZ's largest Kauri tree the Tane Mahuta in Waipoua forest - more impressive than it sounds, this thing was mammoth, just appeared from nowhere, the daddy of the forest!! The stop in Opononi was terry scenic to say the least!!
We're driving and driving to make sure we get a freebie campsite for the night - pass the Kai Iwi Lakes (immense) and baylys Beach - noting the number of sheep and wondering when i'm going to tuck into one! we end up reaching as far as the Mahurangi regional park and camp up overlooking Martin's Bay and Kawau Island.
So back to Auckland for the day - sort out our internet / money situation in preperation for the trip south. We intended to go to Corromandel today but over a tasty pilsener in Galbraith's Ale House decided to hit Raglan for the surfing comp and weekend 'activities'
Raglan was cool, could spend weeks here if we had the time - Pure relaxed surf town maintaining it's style and home to Manu beach the location for film The Endless Summer. Spent the day checking out the Rip Curl Surf pro comp - kids aged 12 absolutely ripping the waves - the longest left hooker in the world apparently!!
went out for some beers and managed to find the non-hot spot in town (Lava) so called it a day fairly early - it was only the next night where the surf chicks and cheap coronas reared their ugly head. Model-esque Czech lady showed much interest but then i realised she'd been hit on the head by a surf board that day and all became clear!!
Sat We hired a board to check out the surf - some tired arms and burnt nipples later i manged to catch a few waves...allbeit on my knees but was unreal day. Strange black sands made shark spotting tough ;-) We also checked the Waitomo caves and their gloworms - very impressive limestone action. The guide was sweet as -eh!
Over to the Corromandel Sunday - unbelievable death on a stick drive through the mountains, unsealed mountain top roads in a nissan estate!
- Hahei beach was a strong contender for sweetest beach i've been on. Spent the day there Monday after shamelessly jacking the car up on the side of the road Sunday night. Monday afternoon also took us to Hot water beach where the geothermal activity allows you to dig a hole in the sand which fills with almost boiling hot water for a nice bath.....Tourist horse - what a shabby place, hoards of them all trying to dig a hole - crock of s***e! the dutch and german ladies caved in our hole so we sacked it off and left - as if the towels on the sun loungers wasn't enough!
We cruised down the East Coast To Mt Manganui to check out the artificial reef - shabby! Not a bad place but along with Tauranga pretty soul less and no character. We managed to pick the local bong smoking, rim showing car park to camp up for the night - nice!
After a little shimmy over to Whakatane we headed to Rotorua to get deep in the Maori cunlture, get deep into the Geothermal region and to check out the supposed terrible sulphur smell...Very, very bad! I obviously got blamed for this all the way through. We've excelled ourselves here, enjoying a dinner of chile and garlic mussels cooked on our stove with some cheap bavarian piss - all done in the secure, picturesque surroundings of the local hospital car park!! ropey. Mussels were all good though, Pak'n'save is the place to shop, fu#k Aldi!
Whilst in Rotorua managed a free look at the boiling mud pools and shooting geysers in Kuirau park and enjoyed the views from the lakeside along with a million snapping japanese cameras! The trip south from here was perfect - we found out about a free natural hot spring called kerosene creek so spent the morning in roasting hot waterfalls. The trip to the Wai o tapu thermal Wonderland was also well worth a trip, just for Lake Ngakoro at the end of the walk - the most powerful jade green water (and smell of egg) Cool place though.
Being honest i could have stayed in any of these places for ever because i knew what was to come at our next stop Lake Taupo - throwing my ass out of a plane...but we made it there despite the fear. On the way into Taupo is the amazing sight of Huka Falls - an intense tight gorge section of NZ's largest river the Waikato. ridiculous power. Just on from Huka we managed to find Reid's Farm - a totally free campsite right on the river (that's more like it) this is the spot for the next few days. Thurs and Fri involved fishing for trout all day and catching 1 each on the bobby dazzler spinner (my first) but nice to chill out for a few days after pretty much constant movement for last 2 weeks.
I jump out of a plane today