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 Tūtira 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!

Taupo to Napier

 
All along the drives around New Zealand there are signs to point out views, we stop at most. The one we stopped at between Taupo and Napier was a real surprise.



A waterfall! It’s not actually signposted apart from the ‘viewpoint’ sign! Talk about hidden treasure! 
Napier is the Art Deco capital of New Zealand…





As we found another spot to freedom camp we treated ourselves to an Indian.
Honestly, we were both disappointed with it, especially as we can both cook! On the plus side, we had leftovers so we didn’t have to worry about breakfast the following day! 


Followed by ice cream…



And all before noon! Piggies! 




Quick stop at Bluff Hill lookout for some views over the dock.

Freedom camping Taupo

Taupo is a huge lake bang in the centre of the north island. After going way over budget in the South Island, we are now on a money saving mission.
Freedom camping does what it says on the tin, you can park for free, there are usually toilets, you probably have to sleep in the car.
So parked up by lake Taupo is where we first tried this. 

Not a bad view to wake up to. 
I am loving the freedom camping so far, no having to get up and out by 10am (I am not a morning person). We can actually take things at our own pace and enjoy the town.


We took a walk to the Huka Falls, passing people bungying off a cliff.







Always the slow poke! 





This was one hell of a walk, turned out to be about 10miles! 

Sleeping in the back of the car is so appealing when you’re knackered! (I’m not being sarcastic!) 

Taumarunui

Hit some traffic on the way to Taumarunui.


Staying with some friends of Laura’s on a farm here, and we were lucky enough to be taken sheep wrangling in the morning.


Clinging to the back of the quad bike while being taken up the mountains of the farm land.








As it’s clear today we can see mountains off in the distance.




Shearing time for some of these unsuspecting sheep.




More mountain exploring for Laura and I. Up Sunshine Track. I have no idea why it is called this, and so far it was the worst marked path we have had the pleasure of getting lost on!


In some areas it looks like rainforest, then the view from the top looked like a vista over some welsh hills.





This wasn’t enough for us! We had to walk up a mountain to complete our day!



I was basically on all fours going up and nearly on my butt on the way down! It was worth it for the views and invigorating feeling!
Beer time! 

Hawera

Hawera is near Egmont National Park, which is home to Taranaki volcano.
The rain was torrential, luckily we could listen to it from the comfort of our motel room. Luxury for a few nights, a spa bath, a soft bed, a kitchen! All the simple pleasures!
The sun did put in an appearance the following day which allowed us to walk to the beach.












We did venture up the volcano, it was misty.


On a clear day you can probably see all the way to the sea. But not today.
Next destination Taumarunui.