A pretty, sh***y city

Firstly, apologies for the radio silence, took some time to chill out and get used to being back home.
Also, to me, the whole point of writing and publishing it is that there is something interesting to actually write about. Me lounging around in a hammock soaking up the limited UK sunshine does not make for a riveting read! 

 

That’s not to say I did absolutely nothing, there’s been a few summer fayres and events, like the Natural Living Expo, held in the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. 
The venue always worth a visit, even in the Welsh weather. 

I conquered the hay maze! Also received an unusual back massage whilst laying on my back. I was in bits the next day, in a good way.
The whole event consists of plenty of stalls, all centred around natural living and health, mental and physical. All put together by the Old Mill foundation.
A more local event was the Gower Chilli festival. Celebrating the many ways you could possible add chilli to anything, I like chilli but draw the line at it being in cake, beer or gin. But that’s just me! 





My favourite event of the ‘summer’ in Swansea so far has been the outdoor screening of ‘Twin Town’. A movie set and filmed in Swansea. Everyone who was of age at the time it was released knows the words off by heart, and after 20 years the city celebrated its anniversary by having a movie screen placed in Singleton park, a band playing songs featured in the film, and even the Welsh Male Voice Choir as a grand finale.

Goosebumps.





http://www.natural-living-expo.co.uk/

http://gowerchillis.com/

https://cinemaandco.yapsody.com/

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Touching a Kiwi

We had stayed in the Bunkdown hostel in Whangarei, where they told us about the Native Bird Recovery Centre, where you can actually touch a kiwi bird.
We thought an experience like this would cost quite a bit, but it’s only a $10 minimum donation to help keep the centre running.


This is Sparky, he was caught in a trap and lost his leg, he would have died in the wild, but here he has a full life, munching on worms and helping educate the children of New Zealand.



This was definitely one of he best experiences in New Zealand. Being so inexpensive too was a bonus for the budget traveler. 
Robert, the founder of the centre is full of facts and information, and his passion for the birds and their care shows. 
He found us worms to feed Sparky.


The centre helps all kinds of birds, the website even has a webcam to watch eggs hatching that have have been abandoned and rescued by the centre. 


I have included the link to the website as this was literally the best experience, and it helps injured animals.
http://www.nbr.org.nz/sparky

Eastside

 
As we made our way south from Doubtless bay we discovered a chocolate factory and gelateria in Kerikeri. After sampling some chocolate and ice cream, we realized it was the sister factory of the one we visited in Marlborough in the South Island.


We camped in Paihia and woke up to views over the water.



Paihia is the place where it all began…with Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
This place was amazing, experienced another cultural show, had a free guided tour around the grounds and the museum was really well laid out which made it easy to understand.







The museum offers a free guided tour around the treaty grounds, made the most of that.


Giant ceremonial canoe which we were told Lady Diana had a ride in even though women are not supposed to go in the war boats.


The stump of one of the three Kauri trees. Photo doesn’t really show how huge this tree was. Two of me could have laid across it, I wanted to try, but this is sacred ground and tomfoolery of that sort is disrespectful.


The flagstaff with the three flags associated with New Zealand, the Union Jack, the Maori flag and the flag we know and love today.
Onward south with a stop off to the Hunderwasser toilets. 



Northernmost point of NZ

We took the car ferry over the Hokianga harbour. 



After consulting a map we decided to head for the Mitimiti coast, this was a bit of a mistake as it was miles and miles of gravel road to find ourselves on a pretty bleak beach!



Onwards to the dunes. Now, everyone else sandboards down the dunes. I’ve already experienced hurtling head first down a sandy mountain in Namibia, so wasn’t in a huge rush to do it again. Instead, we did handstands and dug holes.





Finally, our goal for the day…Cape Reinga. The most Northern point of New Zealand.





As we had eaten the national dish (fish and chips) at Bluff in the southernmost point we had planned to do the same in the north. Cape Reinga is Maori sacred ground so no eating allowed. It was really peaceful there. 



We don’t go too many days without an ice cream round here…


The west coast of the northlands is also famous for 90 mile beach (which is actually 55 miles long) apparently is called 90 mile beach because when it was first discovered it was explored on horse back, the maths was that horses can travel about 30 miles in a day, it took them 3 days, therefore its 90 miles long. Like humans, horses are slower in sand, so that’s where the sum went wrong! 




90 mile beach was our last western northlands stop. Off to the east side now to Mangonui.



We had our little hearts set on fish and chips so, in the age old tradition we ate them in the car overlooking the harbour.

Northlands

Can’t believe we have nearly seen the whole of New Zealand! 
We finished off the Coromandel by hugging some Kauri trees. Some of these trees have been here for thousands of years so they are doing their best to conserve them.


Hugging them was my contribution to conservation.
Currently exploring the northlands, where there are a few sparsely populated villages.
Our first stop was Omamari, on the West coast. We stayed at a campsite overlooking the Kaiiwi lake.






After a pretty rough nights sleep in the back of the car (the temperature is starting to drop!) we head to another Kauri forest. We weren’t allowed to hug these trees.

These pictures can never show the sheer size of these giants.





From the Kauri forest we head up the coast to Maunganui Bluff. I took a walk on the beach and Laura explored the mountain. We both got soaked to the skin, I was wind and sand beaten, Laura covered in mud. The signs of a good walk! 



We dried off best we could in the car and continued north. 



We stopped in Opononi and found the only campsite available. This is where we learned there are very few towns. Luckily we had enough food to last until we found a store! 


At least there’s plenty of drinking water for us! 

To the East Cape

Callum (who we met in Dunedin on the South Island) met us in Gisborne and joined us on our journey to the East Cape.


We stopped at Tolaga Bay Wharf, a really long jetty reaching out into the ocean.







Our home for the evening is a campsite over looking the beach.




The facilities consist of a drop toilet inside a corrugated box on top of the hill. For 6 bucks a night, you can’t go wrong. 


We had plans to wake up early for the sunrise over the easternmost part of the land.


Was such a clear night, the moon lit up the place.


Over 800 steps to get to the lighthouse to watch the sun come up.





I was very out of breath at the top. 
Luckily, it was more than worth it.






Moved onto Whakatane where we caught the moonrise. 



We treated ourselves to a bit of ‘normality’ and went to the cinema to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Gisborne

 
Another amazing vista on our drive to Gisborne at TÅ«tira Lake.

One of the upsides to staying in a Top 10 campsite is they usually have a jumping pillow…



After exerting most of our energy bouncing around like kids we took on the challenge of walking the length of Poverty Bay.






It’s the equivalent to November weather here, but that didn’t stop us having a sea swim.





We ended walking over 10 miles and we still didn’t make it to the end of the beach!