Out of Auckland

Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, January 21, 2010

We finally found a car!! We packed up and left Oaklands Lodge, and bussed to the airport to meet this cute little Dutch girl! She took us for a test drive and we fell in love (not with her, the car)! We actually had to go to the post office to change it over to our name, the post office is the place to be for everything here! After 15 minutes there, we were the proud owners of a 1990 Toyota Corolla! Steel grey, very classy. He's great, honestly better than our car at home, with electric windows and locks, and some form of air conditioning! Plus, sweet hydraulics (the shocks are shot, and when we hit a bump he does these big roller coaster bounces, haha).

We ended up out in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. We stopped at a really amazing info center, and they pointed us to these two campground in the area, both of which turned out to be beautiful. But curiosity got the best of us, and, guided only by a tiny campsite symbol on our map, we ended up driving past both of them down a crazy, windy gravel road through the mountains (a tsunami evacuation route!) right down to the ocean. To the most beautiful place either of us have ever been. When we got there it was about 7, the tide was out, and it was stormy. We followed a path down to the huge black sand beach. There were these huge strangely shaped rocks erupting out of the sand dunes, silhouetted against the stormy sky. There were a couple men fishing out on the rocky points getting sprayed by the surf, underneath a lighthouse. Soooooo intensely beautiful, it honestly took our breath away. I think I may have left a piece of my soul on that beach:)

We spent the evening out there, wandering around. It rained good and hard for a while, so we hid in a crevasse in the rock until it stopped. Curtis even filled his pockets with Mussels off the rocks for dinner! We walked back up the grassy tent spot, and it started pouring! We barely got the tent up in time. Curtis cooked in the rain, but then it stopped for a bit to let us see the stars! Just a beautiful, magical place. During the night it rained a bit, but mostly the wind just howled around us. We were dry and warm though! Yay tent!

Next day, we got bundeled up in our rain coats and pants. Lucky, because it rained on and off all day. We didn't mind, it actually made it more fun. 20 minutes walk from where we camped there were these amazing caves. Some were tiny, one was HUGE, we figured about 50' wide and 150' long? Crazy! The best one though, we had to walk for a bit, then ditched our daypacks and crawled, then rolled up our pants and waded through ice cold fresh water, then crawel some more! Very intense, I was terrified the whole time, Curtis was thrilled. At the end he wiggled through a tiny hole and luckily it didn't go any further so he came back:)

We headed out to walk to the far point of the beach, where the waves were HUGE. It rained hard, and the wind blew harder than either of us have ever seen! We headed straight into the rain, toward this weird round black rock. We got within 40' of it and had to turn our backs to it because the wind was blowing the rain at us sooo hard! Curtis turned around and yelled... the rock got up and looked at us! It was a big Sea Lion! He turned and headed towards the water to get away from us, but you could tell he didn't want to get in there, the waves were pounding so hard. We watched him for 10 minutes or so before he was gone. I got my camera out and took pictures as fast as I could, in spite of the wind and the rain. It was soaked! We were so thrilled, we didn't even notice the rain anymore.

It stopped raining and the we played on the sand dunes while the sun shone:) We spent the rest of the day wandering around, exploring the dunes and huge rocky hills by the beach.

Next day we packed up. Some locals we met out on the beach told us about the World Junior Surfing Championships, going on just up the road from us in Piha. We checked that out; the surfers were amazing, and I swear they were all under 4' tall! We carried on our way up north, and stopped in Waiwera for the night. With our campsite we got cheap passes to the hotsprings across the road, so we did that. They were really good, with tons of waterslides, pools of all different temperatures, and even a "Movie Pool" (Dyllan, we watched Hannah Montanah!) After a good long soak, we turned in. A fantastic few days we won't forget! 
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Darcy on

Guys this is awesome, such a good idea to let everyone know what you are up to! Cool pics mel, and tell that husband of yours to stay off any surf boards, you know how injury-prone he is. Keep it up guys.

Darcy #2 (dad) on

I totally agree with Darcy #1's comments.....stay the heck off those boards especially with those sharp rocks on the shore!

Anyway, we sure do like the blog and your big ass car!

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