Whangarei

Only a short walk to see Whangarei falls, then a stroll around the town basin.




The local school kids had painted all the teams that will be taking part during the British Lion Tour.



I’d read about Mermaid pools in Matapouri bay. Bit of a climb to get there, especially in flip flops!


So worth it.


Crystal clear, lagoon-like pools were our reward for our trek.





The beach itself was alright too…






Had some fun playing with the slow-mo video.





This was mine and Laura’s last weekend together before I move onto my next travels, so naturally we had to have a drink to celebrate.


Didn’t take too many beers before we were subjected to unwanted male attention..






Naturally, not much sight seeing or even moving was done the day after.

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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. 



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.

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.

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.