Whale watching

New Zealand is famed for its whale watching, the water is so clean here you don’t have to go too far from the coast to find the marine wildlife.
Kaikoura is the place to visit in the South Island, due to the way we’d planned our route and an earthquake destroying most of the roads, we weren’t able to visit there.
Auckland was our back up! 


I got to try out my full waterproof outfit! 




Eyes peeled keeping a watch for any activity.


And pretend we were Jack and Rose…








The dolphins found us and started dancing around the boat!


A Bryde’s whale was also sighted! 


This was one hell of a way to complete my time here in New Zealand! That’s right, I’m coming home! Not for too long, I already have three more adventures lined up! 

So stay tuned for the next escapade! 

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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! 

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.