On the first day of our road trip we awoke for 7.30 and got ready to go and collect our car. We were hiring a Juicy car which are all over OZ and NZ. Our first stop was at Warkworth and we got our food shopping for the next few days. Nat makes me laugh to shop with, she encourages all the bad food where as most people tell me not to get things. So our shopping consisted of a lot of chocolate, crisps and sweets and of course some fruit and veg thrown in for good value. Our next stop was then the Goat Island Marine reserve which is a a cute little beach and good snorkling off of it but we didn't do it as we wanted to get to Paihia Goat Island was established as a marine reserve in 1975. It was NZ's first marine reserve, it stretches 5km along the shoreline and 800 metres off the coast. When snorkling you can look at Kelp forest on the sea floor and you can also check out the bright blue fish called Maomao. On the way we did pick up a hitchiker.. Yes you read that right, a hitchiker :) Well he looked harmless and me and Nat would kick ass if he turned bad. I have met lots of guys hitchiking when staying in hostels so they seemed like ok people. He was from America on spring break and seemed a nice enough guy. We did offer him a lift up to Paihia but he wanted to snorkle so we dropped him there. We then stopped in a tiny town of Matakana which had really cute toilets made up stone with the faces of a woman and man. It also had a nice barn looking cinema and a lovely boathouse at the bottom of the hill.
After we headed straigh for Paihia and turned up there around 2pm. It was first settled by Europeans when the Reverend Henry Williams was seeking a suitable site for a mission station. Apparently the name came about when he looked out at the golden beaches and island studded bay and said PAI meaning good and the English word 'here'. We stayed in the Pickled Parrot which was the nicest hostel I have stayed in. It;s really cosy with a brilliant kitchen and sitting room. It also had a great book swap so I ended up with The Time Travellers Wife and Nostrodamos predictions. We then met Paul who was in our room and we all headed to the ground of Waitangi's where the treaty was signed many years ago. Waitangi is one of the most important historical places in NZ. On Feb 6th 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed here. The treaty was an agreement between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs in an attempt to control the sale and ownership of land. It has some structures which show men and basically their penis's hanging down.. interesting. There was also a Maori meeting house. Behind it was a ship which was turned into a restaurant. We then went for a wander around town and the beach which was really pretty. Later on we cooked ourselves a lovely feast of steak on the BBQ with kumara and pumpkin, corn and brocali and onions and mushrooms.. it was delicious and we throughly enjoyed it. Later on we headed for a beer to one of the local bars on the waterfront. I had a smirnoff mojito and I felt so piised. I don't drink much but honestly it went straight through me :) Afterwards we headed for a gelato ice cream and I thought I would only get one but ended up with a double scoop of white chocolate and raspberry and cookies and cream..it was delicious and so worth it..
The next day we set off on a road trip to Cape Reinga, 90 mile beach and the big sandunes..Cape Reinga is the pointy bit at the top of NZ. It overlooks the meeting place of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. Legend has it that it is the departure point for Maori souls (Te Rerenga Wairua) back to their spiritual homeland Hawaiki. The Pohutukawa tree from which souls are said to make their final leap grows out from the face of the cape and is said to be 800 years old. The lighthouse is one of NZ'z most poweful lights visable up to 50km. 90 mile beach which is actually 64 miles long on the west coast. It is flanked by the Tasman sea in the west and by forests in the east before the land drops into the pacific on the other side of the Aupouri peninsula. Its not actually the longest beach in NZ. Thats Ripiro beach which is further south. We left at 9am ready with Paul for a long day of driving. Our fist stop was a waterfalls nearby Paihia called
Haruru.We then made a stop in the visitor centre and they suggested a few other stops. One of them was Rowara beach which is breathtaking and by far my favourite beach in NZ. It was white white sand and the bluest skies with the white fluffy clouds.. I really loved it and we were so happy about the recommendation. We then headed via Te Kao and I stopped to search out some more Jade but still did not spot any that called out to me. We then headed to Cape Reinga and it was amazing scenary on the way up there. There were mountains of sand and against the green fields and blue sea there was a serious contrast going but which made it so special..The lighthouse had some work going on so that was a bit disappointing but the clashing of the seas is really funny. You literally can see the two oceans clashing. Legend has it one was female and the other male. Why doesn't this surprise me ;) We then headed back to the sandunes and hired out some boards. I managed to get up to the top even though it really hurt my ankle but did not have the guts to go down it. I was really scared I would tumble and do something worse to my foot so did not want to take the risk. Instead I went down on my ass bringing down half the mountain and getting plenty of sand in places that just ain't right :) I then did a smaller sandboard sitting on it instead. I met an English family who moved to Christchurch 4 years ago and they were escaping all the chaos there but thankfully their house is ok and no one they knew was put in danger by the recent earthquakes. After this bit of fun we then headed for the 90 mile beach for a look but as we got closer the weather changed and we got torrential rain. It was weird though as it cleared up as we got to the beach and we took a few beaches. It obviously is a very long beach and was cool to see but it wasn't the nicest day so we couldn't really appreciate it. Me and Nat wanted to drive on it but we were warned against doing it by the rental company.. BOOOO oh well it was getting late and was going to be 3 hours home so we headed off. We got back to the hostel for about 8ish and made some dinner.. it was a scrummy veggie pasta so we tucked into that as we were starved and tired after a very long but cool road trip. We then ended the night with Flashdance, original styylllee as we both has not seen it.
In the morning we woke early to head on the ferry to Russell Island which was a 15 min ride away. It was a cute little town on the other side of Paihia so we took a short walk around but it was to early so most places were closed. There was a beautiful tree with a white house behind it and it took a lovely picture. We then headed back and I bought my Jade. It was one that I had not spotted when I went in the first day and we all agreed it suited me and was the nicest one. I was really happy I managed to get one as was getting worried I would not find one that I really liked. Man I have high standards sometimes!! We then got on the road and it took about 4 hours to get back to Nats house. When we got back I had a lovely long hot shower and Nat put my washing on. I then sorted out my bags and chucked out some bits and got myself organised. I could not believe I was moving country again, where does time go. We were going to have some good fish and chips but sadly it was closed. I was guttered as Nat understood my need for decent fish and chips!! LOL oh well I will be home before I want to be so it would be all good! We dropped the car back to the car hire unit and on the way we went across a newly gravelled road. We had done loads of these on our trip and we were paranoid as we were not covered for chips etc.. One hit the windscreen really loud and created a small chip. We could not believe it and I could not help but giggle, serious irony.. we kept our fingers crossed it would be ok and no extra costs. We literally dropped it in and ran out before they checked the car. Nick and Nat then dropped me to the airport and I said my goodbyes..I was sad to say bye to them both. I then waited almost an hour to check in. Let me tell you something weird about checking in for a flight to SA. Most people had their bags covered in clingfilm of some kind. That would not make you nervous as all, huh!! I asked the attendent and he said it was due to them wanted to being extra careful in case I assume their bags are tampered with..NICE!! After some food I headed for my 20 hour jouney to Lima..
I was so happy to spend my last few days with Nat. Its amazing how we only met in September in Thailand and yet I feel like I have known her longer and we get on so well :) Love you Nat! I was so happy she is settled in Auckland with Nick, a new job and home but I really wished she was close to home as well :( New Zealand was awesome and it did not disappoint in terms of the scenary.. truly spectacular scenary.. I was guttered that I hurt my ankle whilst I there. I still feel really sad its happened as it has changed my plans and even now it still hurts even though it was 3.5 weeks ago. I read this type of sprain can take 4-8 weeks. I have self diagonosed it from over the internet.Its a grad2 2 sprain and seeing as I am still using my foot it will probably take longer. This does not bode well for getting in shape and getting in a bridesmaid dress :) But I am trying to think positive and remember it could be worse. Gosh imagine I had to come home early. I would definitely have been sad to miss out on SA. I have met some awesome new people in NZ and met up with old faces which really made this part of my trip even more special! Looking forward to the excitement and adventure of South America. I have loved OZ and NZ but there is nothing like a bit of going back to basics, culture, CHEAP food and beds and new and very different food.. combined with the language barrier..it makes traveling harder and therefore sometimes more fun!! Also I want to improve on my Spanish!! or Castellano
as its known in South America :) Bring on the next and last 10 weeks before I sadly head home!!