We had another early start the next day, we had booked onto do some caving and black water rafting at Waitomo caves, it was about a 2 hour drive and we arrived a tad early so we checked some internet, had some lunch and pottered around before checking in for our 4 hours of fun. We were first fitted into two piece wetsuits, given some wet socks, gummy boots and a fetching helmet with headtorch, and the bundled onto a van and taken off to the caves, once there we were given our rafts.. inner tubes, taught how to jump of waterfalls on our rafts and then took a short walk to the cave entrance. We walked down into the caves and started making our way down, on the way one of the guys in our group walked right into stalagmite and knocked himself flat on his back... i was right next to him but was useless due to me getting the giggles, so i just laughed at him and carried on, he was fine though, and i was later credited by the guides as doing a good job catching him, he must have really hit his head if he thought i caught him rather than laughing and leaving him on the floor. The next couple of hours we climbed our way through the tunnels, and where there was water we jumped on our rings and floated down the caves, after about half hour, we all joined up in a line, turned off our headtorches and were pushed down river by the guides, and in the dark the ceiling was lit up by thousands of tiny glow worms , was stunning laying back floating past them all. We jumped off a couple of small waterfalls and finally had to find our ways out the tunnels in the dark, i found myself stuck in the dark inbetween two Japanese people who kept grabbing me in some odd places and talking Japanese to me, i just kept quiet and tried to float faster. After being fondled I found my way out and stayed away from the Japs as we headed back for some warm showers and hot soup. We were conscious of time running out so after our fun we needed to put some km on the board and headed up to Coromandel peninsular, we arrived late so grabbed some noodles and it was time for bed.
We'd heard good things about the peninsular, and planned to have a whole day driving around it, but it turned out one day wasnt enough and we only made it half way by the time evening came. We made several stops in the morning at little beach towns and coves, but our first main stop was hot water beach, another natural geothermal spring, but this time on a beach. We rented a spade from the cafe next to the beach and wandered down towards the crowd of people, basically there is a hotspot right under part of the beach, you dig a hole in the sand and it fills up with Hot water.... that was the theory. We spent about 45mins digging holes only for them to fill up with cold water, and everyone around us was sitting in pools which were literally steaming, we finally found a spot which felt warm ansd started digging only to get the other extreme, the water was scolding hot and we couldn't even put our toes in. I gave up and went and sat in one of my cold pools and just pretended it was warm when anyone asked until a group of girls finally left their pool and we jumped in, finally a nice warm pool, then some crazy german guy in the pool next to us starts shouting about creating a big lagoon and takes out the wall inbetween our pools, and as he did all our water drained into his pool. He was happy... "we have the coolest spa on the beach ya?! very cool lagoon for us ya?!"....err yea, except we have no water now, i bit my lip and started digging untill we had a small layer of water for us to bath in, whenever i got a good amount in it just flowed into his side, so we sat in my hot puddle! We bath for half hour or so then moved on in the search of some hot chips for lunch. We moved to the next bay and took the half hour walk down to the beach, the beach we found rivaled any we saw in Thailand, it was bliss and we were now livid we hadnt brought any food or towels with us, its amazing how if we drove 3 hours down the road we'd be in the ski fields, yet here we were on one of the best beaches we've seen anywhere and in hot sunshine, NZ is looking like my retirement country!! We spent the rest of the day jumping from beach to beach before deciding we would stay out on the peninsular for the night and found a nice beach side site for the night.
Due to spending the night a little behind where we planned, the next day we had some milage to make up, we now only had 3 nights left and too many places we still wanted to visit. We got on the road, stopped for breakfast in a nice town called Thames, before hitting the highway and gunning in and out of Auckland and up into the Northlands. We made a few stops on the way and finally stopped at a gorgeous campsite, right on another cracking beach and chilled in the evening sun with some more lovely instant noodles!!
Next day we headed up and into the Bay of Islands, as it says in the name its a large bay with 144 islands within, there we again several lovely beaches but we were here for some dolphin swimming, so we booked on, killed a couple of hours and boarded our vessel. We had paid for the boat trip, and if we found a pod of dolphins we could pay an extra $30 to jump in and swim with them. The boat headed out and within half hour we had found a pod of almost 50 dolphins, Chloe and I were goofing around in the boat and did'nt realise for about 5mins there were some outside untill the guide asked if we had seen the dolphins yet, we headed out on deck and they were everywhere, swimming on the bow, jumping about, flipping and rolling and playing all around us, unfortunately they had a baby in the pod which meant we were unable to swim with them. The young feed off their parents up to every 3mins, and if we jump in they may get distracted and miss a meal, which could apparently caused serious illness, so we had to stay in the boat, but we spent about an hour with the pod before we headed off insearch of some more. About 10mins later we found another pod of around 20, though again they had a young one with them and so we again couldnt swim, but we played with them for a bit before heading off again. We saw one more pod and again were told they had young with them so again we couldnt get in the water with them, but it was still a great day and we werent too disapointed not being able to get in. This was our penultimate night and we decided we wanted to get up to NZ most northernly point, so we had to again push on and spent the night at another DOC site on another great beach a 100 or so km's up the road.
That brings us to today and our last night in our van, we got up early this morning and drove right up to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific ocean, we didnt quite make it to the North Cape, but we were only a few metres off being at the most Northernly point. We walked out to the famous lighthouse on the tip of the cape and saw where the two waters and tides collide, the sun was out so we took a quick breather before getting back in the van. We've pretty much had to blaze it all the way back down, trying to get as close to Auckland as we could so we atleast have a few hours to see the city tomorrow before heading back to Oz. We stopped at Ninety Mile beach on the drive down, as it says in the name its a 90mile long beach, but you are able to drive along it, it has a 100kmph speed limit, so basically its another highway. Now we arent insured to drive on this road/beach but fancied getting a picture of the van on the beach, I managed to pursuade Chloe to let me drive, neither of us are insured so might aswell be me, and drove down on to the beach, we took our picture then i went to drive off.... the van wouldnt move...full throttle and still nothing, the back wheels were just digging a pit behind the car....short panic before trying reverse and managing to pull it out the hole, before i jetted straight back onto the tarmac, i s*** my pants!!!
So drama over the drive down to Bayleys beach, where we are now, took up most of the day, we are currently charging all equipment, washing clothes and packing our bags, tomorrow we head to Auckland where we drop off the van and have a room booked at a hotel near the airport, we need to be at the airport for about 4am the next morning to fly back to Brisbane. Our month in NZ has flown by soooooo quickly, but its been amazing in every sense, and what we've covered in this blog doesnt cover half of what we have seen on our journey....Oz has a lot to live up to now!! We will have covered well over 7000km when we hand the van back, the last few days especially have been a bit of a push, and we've spent more time driving (well Chloe has spent more time driving) than seeing sights, but we have seen everything we wanted to, its just that a month is no where near long enough to try and see all of NZ... we'll just have to come back!!!
Anyway we will leave it there, next time you here from us we will be in Australia somewhere, and on our last leg of the trip!!
Much love.... bye!!!!!!!!