Short but Sweet: NZ's North Island

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 2010

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Don and Dorothy's house swap!!

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We enjoyed an absolutely lovely, relaxing visit to the North Island.  Our aunt Dorothy and uncle Don had a house swap set up with a NZ family who were off to Vancouver to see NZ's Ben Griffen compete at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Our aunt Emily was also along to tour NZ (as well as Ben's mom, Sally) and to escape the Olympic hoopla in Vancouver.  Based out of Don and Dorothy's house-swaped Hamilton-home, we enjoyed a week visiting and touring with them!  A huge thank you to our loving family for taking us in for this week!  Multiple nights in the comfort of a plush bed was relished and much appreciated! 

The Hamilton Gardens house wonderful gardens that represent garden scenes from all over the world.  This is the Italy Garden display.

Our tribe making Maori faces in the Maori garden

Emily has a special touch; we call it the chicken touch.  No matter where we are in the world, she can befriend the local chickens and even pick them up!   

We spent a lovely day exploring the west coast near the famous surf town of Raglan


The gang enjoying the surf on our toes at Raglan's best surf beach!

The splendid 55-meter Bridalveil Falls near Raglan! The North Island is so lush in places it reminds one of Hawaii!

Don catching the falls' water in his hat!

The Coromandel Peninsula is home to beautiful beaches and kauri forests (a type of gum tree that is up there with the Sequoia as one of the world's largest trees). The Coromandel range of mountains forms a spine along the peninsula rising to nearly 900 metres, which means some seriously windy roads.

Emily and Sally deep in a kauri forest

Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula - its name comes from underground hot springs that filter up through the sand between the high and low water tidal reaches. All you have to do is dig a hole and you've got a hot tub.

The scene really picks up when a good hot water pool has been dug!

Of course, we found a way to get some rock climbing in near Hamitlon - a place called Froggart Edge.

Lindsey leading up Monsterpiece Theater (NZ grade 20)

This cool rock climbing area is nestled between beautiful farm country, making for a quiet, peaceful place to crimp holds on these volcanic outcrops--that is, in between the outer-worldly sounds of the mooing cows grazing below.

We also toured the area to see glowworm caves, kiwi birds and ostrich farms!


Ben racing an ostrich (video)!

We couldn't take photos of the kiwi birds - the funniest birds you'll ever see! Here's a native NZ owl instead- the Morepork Owl, named for the sound it makes!

Our farewell dinner in Hamilton with (Left to RIght) Emily, Sally, Don, Dorothy and Lindsey

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Adam on

HAPPY BDAY SUCKERFISH!!!!! I'm a couple days late, but I think it evens out for the year you were a couple of days early :-) I cannot believe that you guys are almost at the end.

For those of us following along on our computer screens and in our rock gyms, let me speak for everyone and say THANK YOU to you and Ben. I'm sure it's not easy to find the time to catalog your journeys, but you should know that reading about and seeing your days out there has made our days back here a little better in every way. Because of you two, we are affirmed in the belief that there are people in the world who follow their passions, live their dreams, and seize the day.

All my love to you both, and I'm sure your next adventure (marriage) will be every bit as exciting and even more rewarding!

Adam W on

Love the race with the Ostrich, you kicked its butt mate!

Krista on

My heart is aching I am so jealous! NZ is just so fabulous!!
Ben you absolutely made my day with the Ostrich racing video. I don't think he was too happy with you!
Next time you two travel the world...please take me with you!

Any stops in Toronto? You can stay with me!!!

Emily Rummel on

I'm thinking that New Zealnad should include the Ostrich Race as an event when they host the Olympics. The world would beat a path to see such a contest!

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