NZ North Island trip – Kohukohu, Hokianga, Waipoua

Posting by Barb:

On the last day of our memorable road trip we took the north-western route back to Whangarei. DSC_5428Our first stop was Kohukohu, one of the first European settlements in NZ and it boasted to have the oldest foot bridge built in the 1840’s. We took the ferry to Hopianga, a dying little town with lots of ‘For Sale’ signs advertising ‘life style’ change as the sale pitch.  We followed part of the road along the 30 km estuary with the thought that it would be a beautiful place to bring the boat. We did talk to some locals about the possibility of doing this and the consensus was that it would be treacherous to do especially getting through the sand bar across the mouth (another navigational challenge for Dennis, maybe next year).   DSC_5473-1We had a nice picturesque stop with some roosters for company and then on to Waipoua Kauri Forest to see the largest Kauri tree in NZ called  DSC_4143Te Matua Ngahere, meaning Father of the Forest. It  was 2000 years old. Kauri trees usually live to be 4000 years old but in 2007 a severe winter storm damaged the tree therefore shortening its life. To be sitting there underneath the tree was mystical and made me feel humbled and I wondered how many living beings had sat in the shadows of this great tree in the last thousand years. As we continued our journey through the forest, Bill, who was taking a turn in the back seat as Dennis drove ,inadvertently found out that the sunroof in the back seat could open. I suggested he stand up and take a video of twisty, winding road while hanging out of the sunroof. He was like a little kid discovering a new toy, whooping and hollering as he stood in the back seat hanging out of the sunroof. When he finally settled down his curls were all windblown straight!! Too bad we didn’t realize we could open the sunroof when we were on 90 mile beach.  We had a really nice meal in a little restaurant called Jo’s in Dargaville. We will definitely go back there and recommend it to anybody looking for a great place to eat!

That was end of our memorable road trip with never ending laughter and unforgettable scenery and experiences.

NZ North Island trip – 90 Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, Te Paki Stream

Posting by Barb:

Our Northern road trip continued with the first stop being 90 Mile Beach. We drove along the sand highway with the ocean roaring alongside of us.  The tide was rising and I was a little apprehensive. There were quite a few warning signs posted of the possibility of loosing your car if by chance you got caught on the beach highway at ‘high’ tide. As the tide continued to rise we continued our speedy trip hoping we would make it to the next beach exit before the water reached our ‘rental’ car. We stopped for the making of a video clip. Dennis planted himself, camera and tripod on the beach and Bill, Ella and I raced towards Dennis in the car as he videoed. Once completing a forward pass we did a pass in reverse making sure we did not run Dennis over. We also did some videos while Dennis was hanging out the window.  

DSC_5381-1 Once safely on pavement we continued on to Cape Reinga, the most Northernly tip of NZ.  We walked to the light house and took many photos again, including the stick-DSC_5391bug we found. 

Cape Reinga is generally considered the separation marker between the Tasman DSC_5402-1Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. From the lighthouse we watched the tidal race as the two seas clash to create swirling, unsettled waters just off the coast. It was a little unnerving sight for Dennis and I thinking about being caught on the boat in the chaos of that water.

On the way home we stopped at Te Paki Stream and hiked around the magnificent sand dunes. We walked up and down mountains of sand and there were moments when we were surrounded by sand giving us a sense of what a desert would feel like without the extreme heat. DSC_5418DSC_5407

 

NZ North Island trip – Russell, Paihia

Posting by Barb:

We spent a night on Landfall before heading further North. Our first stop was Russell. This was a quaint little tourist town with lots of Art galleries, little boutique shops, restaurants and charming hotels. DSC_5181 There was a cruise ship parked in the harbor so the little town was buzzing with people. There was nowhere to have a picnic so Ella invited herself and us to share a table with a local who seemed to be getting ready to take a snooze on the picnic table. He admitted after that talking to us turned out to be much more interesting than his scheduled nap. From there we decided to take the ferry to Paihia saving ourselves hours of driving as we continued our trek North.  We stopped in Opua hoping to see some our friends who are anchored there but only found S/V Huck, Joe and Heidi, who were on the ‘hard’ working on their boat. We had a quick chat and invited them back to the Motel for a BBQ and drinks. We had a fine night of great food and drinks with our good friends. My only regret is not capturing the moment on camera.

NZ North Island trip – Ruatahuna Park, Papamoa

DSC_3782-1Posting by Barb:

We decided to make our track back north through Ruatahuna Park. It was miles and miles of driving on a twisty, dirt road regularly maintained by a road grader. We didn’t have to worry about the KIB code on this road as we and perhaps another car were the only ones out there.The KIB code, according to Bill, is the Kiwi In Boot (trunk of the car) trying very hard to hold their place in their convoy of doom as they all try to pass each other and  to compete for the front of the line. We stopped at a neat little tex mex café bar.

All I want is a good cup of Java!!!

All I want is a good cup of Java!!!

We were on a quest for coffee but nobody was there to serve us. There were a few ladies sitting at a table and they were ‘healers’ attending a ‘healing’ convention.  They obviously didn’t know about the powers of healing derived from a hot cup of Java. We finally hit the pavement and headed to Papamoa, our last nights’ stop before heading back to the boat. On the way we were got caught up in a traffic jam caused by a herd of cows that were trying to escape their inevitable, unpleasant future.  We were stopped next to the ‘Te Puke’ Liquor Mart and the ‘Te Puke’ Bar. Bill of course brought out the obvious thought of changing the letter ‘e’ to the letter ‘o’ and the significance it would have to the quaint little town of Te Puke!

 

NZ North Island trip –Waima, Tokomaru Bay, Mahia Beach

Posting by Barb:

We left Hick’s s Bay and stopped at a Maori church advertised as being the most decorated DSC_4008church in New Zealand. DSC_4002-1It was another marathon of tripod-camera  pictures for Bill and Dennis as they focused their attention on the dark, intricate and elaborate wood carvings.I liked the simplicity of the individually sewn decorative pillows covering all the church pews in a myriad of colours, textures and personal themes.   I spent some time outside taking some macro pictures of the butterflies, bees and flowers just outside the church. From DSC_5166-1there we made our way to Tokumaru Bay, a quiet deserted place that showed some vibrant, economic history in a distant past.  Of course some of the old buildings needed to be photographed as well.

 

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We drove through Gisborne where there was no room at the Inn due to the fact that they were hosting an all NZ school triathlon.

We drove all the way to Mahia and spent a night at a hotel on a beach where the wind howled all night.

NZ North Island trip – Hicks Bay

Posting by Barb:

DSC_5141If you look up ‘Hick Town’ in the Urban dictionary it describes it as a town with one stop light, most of the inhabitants drive a trucks, cow/horse pastures everywhere and if you are lucky it has 2 convenience stores, a gas station, and a liquor store and one road in and out. DSC_5089Well that pretty well describes Hick’s Bay with a few minor differences. A ‘roundabout’ replaces the stop light and there aren’t t any trucks as it is just too expensive to buy in New Zealand. .

 

Along the way we made many stops taking pictures of the ‘free roaming’ cows and horses. DSC_3960To get to the lighthouse we had to run up 750 stairs but it was worth the view of Whangaokeno Island. On our way back to the motel we made a ‘lookout’ view stop. DSC_5120And what we saw was a huge centipede inching it’s way past our parked DSC_3847car. So out came the cameras and we took plenty of videos and pictures of the not so little critter.          

NZ North Island trip – Ohope – Lotin Point

Posting by Barb:

DSC_5024-1We could not pass up a beach walk at sunrise. I tried to capture the glorious morning with my camera. Before heading out we had our ‘kid’ moment as we decided to jump on the permanent trampoline in the campsite playground.IMG_1098-1 Let me just say that Bill outdid us all and was intent on being ‘King of the Castle’. Maybe it was payback time for being denied a side excursion to roll down a hill in a hamster ball. Yes, it was on his bucket list to pile us all in a big plastic ball with enough water in it to help one slip around the bottom as the ball careens down a hill. He could not convince any of us to join him in that adventure.   From Ohope it was on to Lotin point with a couple of touristy stops along the way. At Lotin point we stayed at a rundown 50 year old motel. But it was the beautiful scenic vista that brought out our camera senses again.

 

GroupAtGretasHouseGretaTheWonderdogThe best part of the motel was the beautiful, scary guard dog named Greta towing a line of rope that gave her some security(lots of bark but no bite) and the awesome group selfie that we did with the motel room 50’s mural as our backdrop.

NZ North Island trip – Rotorua , Waiteti

Posting by Barb:

Our second excursion would be a weeklong road trip in a southerly direction from Whangarei.  First stop was Rotorua to visit Waimangu, a volcanic valley.DSC_3695 DSC_5005As per the pamphlet, Waimangu was born in the violence of a volcanic eruption and in geological terms it was created this morning. We actually toured the valley late in the afternoon and only had two hours to make it to the end to catch the last bus back to the main entrance (we were armed with cameras, multiple lenses and tripods.  Ella skipped ahead while the three of us tried to use our Nikon cameras to capture the colors of the volcanic paradise.

DSC_4983At one point Dennis and Bill were reprimanded by the park staff for ignoring the Keep Out signs and instead hopping the ankle high fence so that they could get their cameras and faces a little closer to the  boiling masses. DSC_4992After about 2 hours of photographic bliss we started to wonder how far ahead Ella had gone. We saw one of the returning buses pass us by and Bill made a joke that perhaps he saw something pink on the bus and maybe it was Ella. And then somebody on the bus was frantically waving and it WAS Ella. It was hilarious to see Bill’s face change from a humorous grin to an abandoned pout as he came to the realization that Ella had in fact abandoned him and was on the way back to the car. We arrived at the car an hour later and were joyfully greeted by Ella and sandwiches she made for us while waiting our return.

 

We continued our drive to Ohope and stayed in a very nice Top 10 campsite by the beach.

NZ North Island trip – Poor Island Knights Dive trip

Posting by Barb:

Our first excursion was a trip to the Poor Knights Island. DSC_4861It was an early rise to get to the dive place in Tutukaka by 8:00a m.  DSC_4908Once there Dennis and Bill were suited up for a dive and I was suited up for a snorkel. The Poor Knights is known for world class diving. The trip to the Island took about an hour and during that time we were entertained by the skipper of the boat who outlined all the rules to a safe dive. But in the end he explained that the only important thing to remember is to not ‘pee’ in our wet suits as it would require them to clean up after us. For me, it was entertaining to see everybody wriggle into their tight wet suits. The trip included 2 dives, one which was in a huge cave, the boat actually anchored right in the cave. DSC_4881DSC_4894Unfortunately the tail end of cyclone Lusi had touched NZ the previous week so the water was still murky and visibility not that great. DSC_4919Before heading back, the Captain did a little tour of the reserve and he showed his navigational skills as he cruised through some narrow, natural tunnels and brought the boat close to the island coast line.

 

It was pretty impressive. Great dive but not as exciting as the snorkeling that we have done so far on many of the South Pacific reefs.

NZ North Island trip – Bill and Ella arrive

Posting by Barb:

On March 18th our friends Bill and Ella arrived at Dockland 5 in Whangarei where our boat is. They just finished their NZ South Island road trip and planned to spend their remaining time with us on the North Island. We were definitely ready for a reprieve from our boat projects.  We decided to go out for Happy hour and a meal at an undisclosed restaurant where we enjoyed great beer and terrible food. Dennis ordered the ‘Crispy Duck’ leg, (what was he thinking). The blackened Duck leg was served over grey lentils. Appetizing it was NOT but his face when the plate was placed in front of him was priceless. Laughing and making the best of the pricey, poor food was a sure indication that the North Island road trip would be a great trip. And so it was. Check out our photo album!!!