I decided to hire a car and do a little road trip to the Northland, Corrommandal peninsular, Bay of plenty, Eastland and Hawkes bay - basically the coasts of the North Island of NZ - all in 13 days!
Bright and early I pick up my car - a Nissan - I'm sooo excited, I haven't driven in almost 3 months! I decided not to take out the extended warranty which cost almost as much as the hire price - so I have to be careful with it! I have a clean license so far....
Off I go up to the very North of NZ - and the sun is shining! - an added bonus, considering the weather has been pretty shit recently. For my first day I drive in and out of little coves and beaches, and do quite a bit of unsealed road driving, which by the end of the day, I'm handling them like a pro
! I find some lovely little hidden gems after a few hours driving, empty stunning beaches and photogenic lookout points. I find a waterfall which I explore and take a few good photos. after my very scenic drive I arrive in Paihia - home to the Bay of Islands, as named by captin cook. I book up 2 trips, one on a cruise around the bay, including dolphin swimming and the other a trip up to Cape Reinga for the next 2 days.
Cape Reinga is the Northern most tip of NZ, and while I could drive up to it, the other cool thing about going up there is driving on 90 mile beach, which voids my car hire! so I take a trip, leaving nice and early at 7.30 - quite a few people are late, as last night we had to put the clocks forward - the bus driving wasn't impressed! and we make out journey up. On the way the bus driver decided he would like to chat to me over the tannoy system, and kept referring to my name throughout the whole day about how I was going to help him clean the bus etc - On the way we stopped to look at the great big Kauri trees which are very sacred to the Maori people, and they are absolutely huge!! Of course I showed him my love and gave a great big hug and a hello with a traditional Maori touching of the nose - and in return the tree would feel my love and I shall feel it back (or something like that) actually, I never thought of myself as a tree hugger, but I actually enjoyed it, and may take it up when I get home..
. Of course I got some good pics, and the pics don't do the tree justice in how big it really is! We carry on up, and we go off to some great big sand dunes - I ain't talking no caister-on-sea stylie - no! Massive break your neck kind of dunes - so naturally we sand board down them! The hardest part was getting to the top, it was such hard work! It was pretty scary looking down the dune, and the guy telling my just before he let go of my board that it's actually pretty dangerous! - thankfully, I make it down in one piece, even if I eat a bit of sand, num, num. I went up once more and that was it for me, too much hard work getting up it! - and it was hot! The aim of the boarding was to ride all the way down, over the little stream and on to the other bank - of course everyone stopped before they reached the stream, not wanting to get soaked - until Spike (our driver) showed us what he gets up to everyday he does this tour, and took a run and jump and slide right over to the other bank, not even getting wet, so all the boys decided to have a go, and most get wet! Some had pretty rough landing and came off the board, most made it in one piece - when we all get back on the bus, Spike decided to tell us the worst injuries he has seen whilst people have been sandboarding, 2 of them were his injuries, broken ribs and knocked out front teeth - so glad he didn't enlighten us with this before we went speeding off down the dunes!
Onwards to lunch as a lovely little beach with great surf - though no surfboard
! it would have been great except for the other 4 coach loads that were also having lunch there! Then we went to Cape Reinga - the main event! The walk was about 30 minutes to get to the lighthouse and to the top of NZ - this sight is again a big Maori sacred sight, it is believed that your soul departs from this point when you die, for this reason, no food or drink are allowed in the area (carries bad spirits) The views were amazing, this is also the point where the Tasman sea and the Pacific ocean meet - and while you hear of great waves clashing together, all I saw was a bit of a ripple and a bit of odd current! On the bus journey back we stop at the best "fush and chups" (get me with my Kiwi accent!) shop in the world - so Spike tells us - clearly he hasn't been to England, and tasted them in Stowmarket, because they were crap compared to back home, ok the fish was nice, the chips were frozen jobbies put in a fryer - He did know this, and pointed out "unless you live in England". Back to Pahia we arrive and off on another adventure tomorrow.
I was sooo excited about the possibility of swimming with dolphins - the trip called the Cream trip - there is a reason for the name, I cant remember it, prob not very exciting! - Again with the sun shining, its another great day, but also a really cold wind, and the thought of jumping in the ocean, isn't appealing! Only an hour in and already some dolphins were spotted, a pod of about 30 bottlenose dolphins, swimming with the boat, jumping up and showing off, unfortunately we couldn't swim with this pod as they had babies with them. I got some great pics, my favorite one though is when one of them is following the boat, and is looking up at us with his little eyes, was so cool to see them. we couldn't stay for long as the boat had deliveries to make around the islands to people living or minding them
. often we would get to the island with dogs waiting for us, as they got a treat when the boat came! We stop for lunch in a little island cove and get off the boat, I explore some rocks and take a few pics and on we go. there was word around that some Orca (killer Whales) had been spotted not far from us, so we speed up and try to find them, we did! the fin is much larger then a regular dolphin (I didn't know that killer whales are in fact dolphins, but they eat other dolphins, which is why they are called killer whales!) These wernt so friendly or interested In the boat, but they did get quite close at one point, I also saw hammer head sharks, who were swimming away from the Orca! So we had quite a treat, the marine specialist who was on board was telling us their names, and saying which other dolphins they usually are seen with etc, was really interesting. we had to leave the Orca to where ever they were going, and am hoping it wasnt up to the same point 90 whales beached up only a few days ago, and who all died. The day was great, and whoops I got sunburt, even with my cream on!
I get back to the road and stop at Kaitaia, and get going again the next day exploring the karikari penninsula, finding more hidden gems, and downwards on the West coast of the country, after the longest drive in the world, due to nowhere to stay when I stopped, I arrive back in Auckland - and the next day begin my Cormmandal penninsular trip!