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! 

Up the Coromandel

 
Driving further north until we reach a little village to stop in, attempted to stretch our legs on the beach at Whangamata and nearly tripped over an errant seal. (According to the ‘locals’ seals don’t usually stop here.)

It was quite a bleak day, and ashamed to say we were probably still hungover from Friday! 
A cwtchy little cafe served nachos and loaded wedges and milkshake. Sold! 


Worked off a nacho by pretending to surf.



Waikato is our next stop to dip our feet in the hot water springs. What you’re supposed to do is hire a spade to dig a hole and lay in the hot water that comes up through the sand. 
What we did was steal a hole someone else had made to bathe our feet in.



We were on a mission today and made it all the way to Whitianga, where we stayed for a couple of nights to relax.



As we were able to properly relax and renew here, I did start doodling again…


Hopefully more inspiration will come more often throughout my travels.

Leaving Rotorua 

On our way out of Rotorua, we stopped at Rainbow Springs to see the kiwi birds. Rainbow springs was highly recommended in all of the guides, as the money paid for the ticket goes into conservation measures to keep the kiwi breed alive.


The park itself was a bit of a disappointment, with cages of various animals and bird shows. 


The kiwi itself and the log flume made up for it though! (We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the kiwi, although that didn’t stop some people!)


Onwards to Matamata, where, as any true Tolkien/Peter Jackson/Lord Of The Rings fan would know, is where the LOTR and Hobbit movies were filmed.



It was really exciting to be on the actual film set, I did geek out a little bit.






On to the Green Dragon for some ale! Yes! (Harry Potter world need to take a leaf out of Hobbiton’s book and provide a butterbeer in the price of the ticket. Just saying.) 





Yep, we tried on hobbit clothes.



Kiwis, flume rides, movie sets, all in one day! Doesn’t get better than this.

Rotorua

 
Rotorua is built over a geothermal hot spot, which means sulphur, which means it smells like bad eggs! 

The whole of the north island is said to be more in touch with it’s Maori heritage. We took a tour to a Maori village for hangi and a show.





After learning about Maori culture for New Zealand, we got to stuff our faces with the buffet hangi of chicken, lamb and loads of veg! Biggest meal we’ve had since being in New Zealand!

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.