Friday, October 21, 2005

Day 135 - Whitianga, New Zealand

Day 135 – 21st October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26979

Woke up and it is still raining, had some breakfast and decided that we were British and rain was not going to stop us from exploring. We drove south to Hahei and parked the car then went on a 90 minute round trip walk to a cove called Cathedral Bay, on route we took a detour through the forest, the bay is lovely it has a huge archway through the rock at one end which leads to the sea.

Jill on beach at Cathedral Cove

Me at Cathedral Cove

The Cathedral Cove Archway

The Cathedral Cove Archway

The Cathedral Cove Archway

Unfortunately due to the weather the waves were huge and crashing down on the rocks.
The beach here would be fantastic on a hot day.

Bad Weather at Cathedral Cove

We walked back to the car and drove a bit further to Hot Water Beach. There are natural hot springs here that are caused from the last volcano which superheated a reservoir of water.

Hot Water Beach

We searched for the hot springs but could not find them, then read that they can be felt from 2 hours before low tide to 2 hours after low tide, so went to a nearby café for some food. At 4pm we went back along the beach armed with a spade and met several other people trying to dig holes but with no success as the water level was so high it was washing away any holes dug in the sand. So I got everyone to work together and build a barrier against the sea then dig the hole.

Getting Everyone to build a Sea Barrier

Building Sea Barrier

So we spent 30 minutes building a huge sand wall, then dug into the sand to feel the hot water flowing.

Reece and I with our Spades

Now there are two natural springs and the temperatures are 60 C and 64 C and we were digging at the hot one. As you can imagine 64 C is very very hot. The idea is to dig a hole and it mixes with the sea water and it is quite nice. We had just blocked out the sea so had to wait for it to cool a little. In the end we had over a dozen people in our self dug sand hole.

Jill and I on Hot Water Beach

Everyone sittng in the hot Springs in the Sand.

Although it was still pouring with rain we had had a fun day on the beach. We then drove back to the hostel soaking wet, we showered and changed then did our washing. We then spent the evening cooking and played cards while our washing was being done.

Day 134 - Whitianga, New Zealand

Day 134 – 20th October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26923

Woke up to the howling wind and the torrential rain , made some breakfast and just chilled out put on some music and used my laptop. Jill and I thought we would head out, so at around 12:30pm we decided to drive up north to Coromandel town, this was a lovely drive through the hills and rain. It took about 45 minutes to get there, Coromandel is a small town with a dozen shops and a couple of pubs, we found a nice café and ordered a toastie and hot chocolate to keep out of the rain. The portions were huge, the hot chocolate was a pint. When then started the drive back and I insisted in stopping at the scenic lookout, so I pulled the car over and climbed to the top of the hill only to find that I could only see about 50 feet due to the rain. We arrived back at the hostel in Whitianga at around 3:30pm and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening updating our blogs, sipping wine and reading. Went to bed with the rain still pouring and the wind still howling. Let’s hope tomorrow’s a nicer day.

Our Kitchen

Our Living Area

Our Living Area

Day 133 - Paihia - Whitianga, New Zealand

Day 133 – 19th October 2005 +12:00 GMT

Packed up our bags, had some breakfast then hit the road, We drove south back towards Auckland and we stopped at KawaKawa and took a look at the spectacular public toilets this time I got a photo.

Kawakawa Public Toilets

We then carried on until we reached Wellsford and we stopped for some lunch. Carried on until we reached Auckland and we stopped at the car rental and exchanged out Toyota Cerifo for a Nissan Sunny, oh well at least it’s newer, this one at least has airbags. Reece took over the driving from Auckland and we made our way east along Highway 1 then onto Highway 2 and finally Highway 25 on to the Coromandel Penisula. Whilst driving we had the car radio on and it came on the news that the crimes for this week in the north of New Zealaand was down to 12 from last weeks 44 and 9 of them were drink driving offenses, I know the crime rate is one of the lowest in the world but that is ridiculous. We drove up the East coast and stopped at a place called Whitianga which is in Mecury Bay. We checked in for 3 nights and had a nice double room for Jill and I whilst Reece had a dorm bed next door. We have a large living area with a TV and a kitchen and Dining area. There are two other people in this part of the hostel and they are both German. The Hostel is right on the beach but the weather is awful, large waves are crashing along the beach and the rain is pouring down, the wind is pretty strong too. We decided we would go shopping straight away so headed to the town centre and bought food for the next few days. Jill and I cooked a stir fry and we then opened a box of wine which we shared with the German’s. We sat up and chatted for several hours before going to sleep.

Day 132 - Paihia, New Zealand

Day 132 – 18th October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26867

Had breakfast at the hostel then Reece and I decided to go on a bike ride to Haruru Falls, the hostel has free mountain bikes so we picked a couple up and set out on the ride, after we had ridden 3 Km along the waterfront we reached Paihia golf course which had a sign 5km to Haruru Falls, unfortunately it was mostly up hill, well seemed it anyway.

View of Paihia

The road had turned to gravel and after a couple of photo stops we got to the falls, they were no so large but still a pleasant sight. Only stopped for 5 minutes and carried on a different way back to the hostel.

Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls

We met up with Jill and went across the road for a beer and a light snack, then it was back to the hostel to relax for a couple of hours. Reece and I then had a game of tennis this time he won although it was very close 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 it was one set all and 4 games all at one point. Jill and I then watched the film “Sideways” then Reece and I went for a beer and I got some pizza’s to take back for Jill, we watched TV for a while before calling it a night.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day 131 - Paihia, New Zealand

Day 131 – 17th October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26858

Had to get up early as we have a busy day planned, had breakfast at the hostel and then we walked down to the Wharf and boarded the catamaran called Carino.

The Carino

We had decided to spend the day sailing around the Bay of Islands. We got introduced to the crew Phil and Vanessa, then we set sail over to Russell to pick up two others. The boat normally carries 40 people and two crew, but we picked a quiet day so there were just five of us.

One of the Islands

We had the engines running for a while until we were out in the open water and then we had all hands on deck to help raise the sails.

Me on the boat



We soon spotted some dolphins so headed in there directions, we were asked if we wanted to go swimming with them so Reece and I jumped at the chance and quickly put on wet suits and snorkels and jumped in, There were six dolphins in this pod and they seemed very friendly swimming around the boat in circles, we were told we should make ourselves more interesting to them by diving and singing to them underwater, I thought I would scare them away if I tried singing.

A Dolphin

Reece and I swimming with Dolphins

Reece and I swimming with Dolphins

Reece and I with our Snorkelling Gear.

After a swim we got back on the boat and saw another pod of dolphins in the distance, Reece and I got back in the water but the dolphins this time just swam right by us. So back on the boat we lay in the sun and dried off as we headed to the largest island in the bay. We anchored in a bay by the island Orupukapuka and took the dingy to the shore. We then walked along trail to the top of a hill so we could get a spectacular view over the bay and towards the pacific ocean.

View from Orupukapuka Island

View from Orupukapuka Island

View from Orupukapuka Island

We then had a walk along the beach and over the rocks.

Jill and Reece relaxing on the beach

Then got the dingy back to the boat where Phil and Vanessa had put on the BBQ. After we had eaten we turned around and set sail to the centre of the bay.

Jill and I having a beer on the boat

Reece and I hard at work

We soon saw more dolphins which we circled a few times before carrying on, we then saw several little blue penguins, although they tend to dive when a boat gets near them.

More Dolphins

A bit further on we saw some seals who put on quite a performance for us as we followed them for a couple of miles before they took off. The boat sailed past a couple more islands before we docked back at Paihia, we all though it had been a brilliant day and well worth the money for 7 hours on the water. Jill I and collapsed and watched the film “Finding Neverland” at the hostel before going across the road to a pub for happy hour, Reece and I played a bit of pool, then we all headed back to the hostel and cooked Heinz beans on toast. How we missed Heinz Baked Beans. Jill and I watched TV for a bit then went to sleep.

Day 130 - Paihia, New Zealand

Day 130 – 16th October 2005 +12:00 GMT

Drove up to the supermarket to buy some food for the next few days as the hostel has a large kitchen to cook in. After we had finished shopping we got back the car, it had a lot of problems starting but eventually we got it going. We drove to the waterfront and stopped for breakfast, I had a great full English breakfast. Once we had eaten we got back to the car and it would not start, we tried for about 30 minutes. So Reece decided to call the AA and the car rental place as we had only had the car for 1 day. The AA turned up after an hour and said that it was an intermittent problem and he did not want to take everything apart. Reece phoned the car rental place again and they eventually agreed we could swap the car for another one when we drive back through Auckland in a couple of days. We then decided to go and have a game of tennis, Jill, Reece and I got some racquets from the hostel and went across the road to the local courts. Jill was surprisingly good at tennis and won a few games. I then played Reece and won quite convincingly 6-0, 6-2. We then went back and showered and changed, then went across the street to a pool hall that had happy hour on for the next 3 hours. So less than £1 a pint. Reece beat me at pool, when then went back to the hostel and Jill and I cooked a stir fry (hers being a veggie one) and ate it whilst having a bottle of fine wine. We got talking to a couple from Guernsey who were avid card players so I got challenged to a game of crib and played a few games with them, unfortunately I got beaten twice in the last hand. Then I called it a night and went to sleep.

Day 129 - Auckland - Paihia, New Zealand

Day 129 – 15th October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26847

Had the free breakfast at the hotel then packed our bags ready to move on. Reece and I ventured out to find the car hire place, stopping on route to purchase an A-Z of New Zealand. We picked up the car which is an old battered Toyota with 147,000 Km on the clock, at least it was cheap. Drove back to the hotel and picked up Jill and all the bags and we hit the road. We drove North on the 1, we took a little detour to try and find a 187 M Boulder but we could not find it so carried on until we reached Warkworth where we took smaller roads until we reached the town of Leigh. Here they have a large marine base which protects the coral reef. We walked along the beach and the rocks and saw hundreds of tropical fish. The views from here of Goat Island are great.

Views from Leigh

Jill in Leigh

We carried on until we reached Mangawhai Heads a small village near Mangawhai Harbour, here we stopped for some Battered Sausage and Chips. Then back on the road a bit of cross country driving until we reached Waipu. Other than the main Highways most of the roads in New Zealand are just gravel roads. Now Waipu is a Scottish Highlander Settlement and had a large monument with a Rampant Lion at the top of it. They have a heritage centre here explaining the history of the town.

Waipu's Rampant Lion


Anyway we carried on to Whangarei where they have a large waterfall, so we stopped and took a short walk and found the 28m fall which looked pretty spectacular, then back to the car it was.

Whangarei Waterfall

Whangarei Waterfall

Next we headed to Kawakawa which claims to have the poshest public toilets in the world, this is a big tourist attraction for them, we drove past but did not stop. There is the New Zealand rally going on at the moment and between Kawakawa and Paihia there are rally cars everywhere. We arrived in Paihia at around 5pm and checked into the Peppertree Lodge Hostel, we were greeted by a friendly guy at reception and shown around the place. Jill and I got a nice double room with ensuite bathroom. Here we have free access to kayaks, Mountain bikes, Tennis courts and much more. The Hostel is less than a minute from the beach and in an area called the bay of islands, the town Paihia is fairly small. Reece and I decide we would head straight out on the mountain bikes so spent 45 minutes exploring the area. Then after returning the bikes we all went out to the pub and had a beer and watched the rugby semi’s. We then had a walk along the sea front and found a restaurant for dinner. After we had eaten we went back to the hostel and collapsed for the night.

Day 128 - Auckland, New Zealand

Day 128 – 14th October 2005 +12:00 GMT

Had breakfast at the hotel and then Jill and I did our washing, wandered around the shops whilst our washing was being done. Then went back into the city centre and found a mall where we had a nice Indian meal. We looked around a few more shops then Jill went back to the hotel and I went to the Casino for a couple of hours, won $400 playing blackjack and decided to quit while I was ahead. Went back to the hotel and met up with Jill, we relaxed for a couple of hours then went to a deli and got some food and beer to take back to the room, where we just stayed in had a drink and watched some TV.
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