Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Why had I never been before? Bizarre. So close and cheap from Sydney.
Rob spent a month backpacking around before we met (16 years ago!) and told me how great it was. When we traveled we either did stuff in Oz or went further afield.

Driveway Wizzard, near Leigh

Kate, Snowpea and me spent a week cruising the North Island having a wonderful time. I'm so glad we did it. Thank you fabulous traveling companions.
Everywhere was so god damn pretty and green. I'm sure there are ugly bits but we didn't see them.

Our first 2 nights were spent just outside of Auckland at a wonderful little B&B, the Lone Kauri Lodge. I totally recommend it, great hosts, beautiful views and very close to stunning beaches.
View from Lone Kauri Lodge
The first day was beach walking on Karekare and Piha beaches. Silky soft black sand, rugged looming rocky islands and hardly any people.

The Watchman, Karekare Beach

There is a couple of huge old Kauri trees covered in barnacles washed up high on the beach. We wondered how long they were floating around to accumulate them before being washed up.

Barnacle Tree
The Watcher, Lion Rock, Piha beach

We headed north away from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean to Leigh. Goat Island Marine Reserve is there, but sadly there was a storm system lurking which made it all choppy so the glass bottom boat wasn't going out. We still had a lovely morning poking around in rock pools. I'd love to go back and do some snorkling or diving in the area.
From there we headed back down towards Auckland, stopping at the Matakana farmer's markets, a couple of vineyards and a picnic on Snells beach. All very idyllic.

Goat Island Marine Reserve, Leigh

Sunday was a live day at Howick Historical Village, costumes, restored houses, arts, crafts and Queen Victoria. Moral failings all round. It was very cute and a interesting slice of Auckland history, not that much different from Australia's really. Bunch of poms trying to eke out an existence in a foreign land.

Tahuhu, Goat Island, Leigh
After Howick we did the 3 hour drive to Rotorua, and ended up staying 3 nights. We decided not to spend all our time driving and just do stuff. It meant we missed out on some cool places- Hobbiton, Lake Taupo, glowworms, but we did great fun things and there is always next time.
It rained on and off, but we always just got the sun long enough to do our thing before it came back. It was sunny long enough for our hour long horse trek, and our Xtreme luging before it hammered back down.

Horsey Grrls, Rotorua
After the horsey ride we went to Waikite Thermal springs, about 1/2 hour from Rotorua and spent 3 hours soaking. We had the place almost to our selves and it was bliss. The water bubbling from the springs is 98Celcius, they have to cool it down to 37-40C before it can be used in the pools. The creek running below the pools was steaming. Very cool or hot or something.

Well earned soak, Waikite Thermal springs
We checked out the museum, which used to be the bath house where you went to take "the cure" in bubbling mud and sulfur. Te Puia a Maori cultural center and geyser park. Rainbow Springs wildlife park, where we did the behind the scenes Kiwi hatchery. They are such funny, awesome looking critters. Because of the feral cats, ferrets and dogs, they only have a 5% survival rate in the wild, so the eggs are taken, hatched and then released into safe wild areas. The female lays an egg almost as big as her and it takes the chick 4-7 days to completely hatch, so they are very vulnerable.


Kate's ipad was very useful. Everywhere we stayed had free wifi so we could find places to stay and things to do very easily.
Such a wonderful stress free holiday. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
More photos here