From Keri Keri, we decided to drive around the scenic route to Russell, instead of taking the ferry across. We thought that it would be rather expensive and the drive wouldn't take us too long. How wrong we were! The ferry would have taken about 20 mins + short drive. Our route was approx 80km over mountains (again!) and took about 2 hrs! It was very pretty though!
Russell was a beautiful place. The weather was hot and sunny and we stayed 4 nights in a really nice camp site. We found it very difficult to move on. The first am, we saw a juvenile killer whale off the jetty, which was amazing. Most people thought it was a dolphin but the locals soon put them right! We found a beautiful beach and spent a few hours sunbathing and relaxing, before climbing a very steep hill to Flagstaff for another 360 view over the bay. The following am, we set sail around the Bay of Islands on the old cream line. We saw several pods of dolphins, all leaping out of the water and generally playing around the boats. it was a wonderful sight. I have never seen so many in one place. It was a beautiful cruise around so many islands.
We returned to barbecue some snapper that were given to us by a group of young guys, who had caught them that day. They had already filleted them and it was absolutely gorgeous, so fresh. They gave us enough for 3 nights, so we passed some on to another young couple ( guy 's parents live in Mellor!)
After dragging ourselves away from Russell, we drove to the west coast to The Kauri forest, where we saw the biggest Kauri tree 800yrs old! We camped in beautiful camp site on the edge of the forest by a river and booked ourselves on a night walk around the forest to see a kiwi (if possible - no guarentees of course!) Ten of us set off on our mission with our guide and rather dim torches. it was beautiful in the forest, very dark so the stars were amazing through the trees. We saw lots of huge spiders' webs, glow worms, eels in the streams and at the last minute saw the back end of a kiwi. We were so thrilled!
From there , we drove to Goat Island on the east coast to the famous university marine centre. We saw some beautiful fish off the rocks and lots of school parties snorkelling. We then drove on to Matakana for tea and the cinema, before free camping for the last time!
We woke to a very misty am, making the hills so beautiful. We then drove into Auckland along the freeway with all the commuters and arrived in time for breakfast! We had a good walk around the city, went up the tower in sky city (as picture above) and took photos. The guys just happened to be cleaning the windows! We decided not to join the daring few skydiving off the tower but quickly returned to the base to watch their descent!
We then checked into our hotel (yes!) and sorted out all our stuff, which was not easy!
The next am, we drove back into the city, took the ferry across to Devonport, went to the cinema again to see Slum dog millionaire (very good) and after a few hours, drove to the airport for flight to Melbourne!
Our trip is now over but we have got lots of memories of a wonderful time together again. Here's to the next one!!