First place in Southern hemisphere to see sunrise

Trip Start Jun 17, 2010
Trip End Jun 12, 2011

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Where I stayed
A random Maori family home

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, October 3, 2010

I set off again on a big drive to Te Araroa.  I really wish I had read all the information about this area of NZ before I got there.  I arrive on a Sunday - and the already half dead place, was even more so on a Sunday!  The petrol pump was closed until Monday, there wasn't really much in the way of people, it was a deserted town.  So I get my trusty lonely planet guide out, and check out somewhere I could stay.  The first place I find out, never was there anyway, so I have to back track and drive to the town before to check out the only other place I could stay nearby.  It took me a while to find it, and it looked like somebody's house - knock - knock - no answer - so I guess it has closed down for the winter season!


 I phone up a motel - the last place in my lonely planet - priced at $89 a night - uhhh I don't think so.  So off I go back to Te Araroa, mindful the my petrol is on the low side! Not really sure what to do.  I think about driving to the lighthouse and camping out there ready for sunrise, but I wasn't sure if I would make it, and if there was anywhere to camp out, then a story comes to mind that some guys told me when they camped out in a Maori populated area, about getting woken at 3 in the morning by guys shaking their van, telling them it was Maori land and to move on - not sure I fancy that - so I come to the conclusion to carry on and drive to the next town, hoping to find some accommodation, which would mean getting up extra early to drive back for sunrise - what a pa-larva!

As luck would have it, as I was driving out of town I spotted a sign "backpackers home stay" so I turn off to explore, I may be in luck!  I arrive at a big old house, and spot 2 Maori people in the garden, and ask if they have room - sweet! I was in luck! Basically the family let out a room for travelers as they know there isn't alot of choice in the area, only an expensive motel.  So I was literally a guest in their home.  It was a really cool experience though, very friendly, the kids wanted to know about England, and our native animals - not that I could really tell them much about our native animals!!  Their house was interesting, the lady had set up a studio/ arts room in the living room, open for people to view/buy things - they had a bath outside underneath the stars heated by a gas burner that they slid underneath the bath! The also kept the traditional cooking area used to cook up a Hangi - though they didn't use it!  It was nice learning a bit more about the Maori culture.

The next morning I get up very early to drive out to the lighthouse for sunrise.  Most of the road is unsealed, and bumpy! Very impressed I haven't had a flatty yet on all these unsealed roads I keep going on.

When I get there, I find 4 other cars already there, clearly they camped out last night, so I could have done the same! - but there was no one around, I thought they were already at the lighthouse.  It took me a while to figure out how to get up to the lighthouse, I has to pass through private land to get to the steps - all 755 of them - man that was hard work in the morning, especially with a bad chest I had been holding on too for 3 weeks now.  It was getting lighter and lighter and I thought I had missed it!!  But I got to the top, and I was the only one up there!! and I hadn't missed it!  There was a bit of low cloud, so it was not a perfect rise, but was still amazing, one girl literally got there as it broke, she was lucky!  It was worth the effort of the day before and I was really pleased I was saw the sunrise before anyone else did that day in the whole of the the Southern Hemisphere!  I got some beautiful photos and as you can imagine, I took a lot of them!

Well I had a good head start to the day, I got some petrol when that opened! and I continued my journey around the east coast.  I stop at Morere hot springs where I take a dip in the hot natural springs - careful not to put my head under with all the signs warning of Amoebic meningitis around! I'm going to miss all these lovely hot springs - this is the last one I will have! 

The next stop was at a place called Wairoa.  I check into a camping ground where I was told there was a backpacker lodge, it was a bit more expensive, but I actually had the whole lodge to myself, so that was nice.  There was not long left of the day, so I took a drive around and stopped at some beaches, I found my very own Paua shell on the beach, so I plan to polish it when I get back home.  Back at the lodge, I have a bottle of wine and get drunk alone! singing along to my mp3 songs! ha ha ha
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