2015 New Zealand

23rd January
Nearly packed. One case had a broken zip and had to be replaced by an older one.

Leaving Criccieth 11:44 24th Jan

Leaving Criccieth 11:44 24th Jan

Leaving Birmingham 20:40 24th Jan

Leaving Birmingham 20:40 24th Jan

Leaving Dubai 10.30

Leaving Dubai 10.30

 

Waiting to board at Brisbane airport, 34 hours into the journey

Waiting to board at Brisbane airport, 34 hours into the journey

 

Arriving at Jo and Kane's place 40 hours after setting off

Arriving at Jo and Kane’s place 40 hours after setting off

27th Jan

Jo and Kane set off for work before 8 and we drifted back and forth into sleep after sleeping for more than 10 hours last night.  It’s hot which, although expected, is quite a shock.  Have we brought too many warm clothes?  In the afternoon we walked to Kingstown and found an ATM at the cricket ground.  We met a contact from our Greek adventures who has an estate agent here (and a yacht) and he and his son were very friendly and told us how to get to Vodafone to change my SIM which we duly did at St Luke’s shopping centre.  We watched Jo and Kane loose at a league netball match and ate at an amazing international eating hall where at least ten kiosks from countries all over the world served mouth watering dishes from around £7.

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29th Jan

Yesterday was almost a complete washout.  I had had a terrible headache and cough which had kept me awake for much of the night and spent most of the day in bed.  Sue looked after me and did several loads of Washing for Jo and Kane.  In the evening we played a game of The Settlers of Catan.

30th Jan

Caught the train down to the ferry port.

Sue at the ferry terminal

Sue at the ferry terminal

The ferry took us to Waiheke Island.

Auckland from the ferry

Auckland from the ferry

we took a bus tour round the island with a bus driver who tried too hard to be funny, then had lunch.

Sue at lunch

Sue at lunch

we then walked along roads to a sculpture walk along the most wonderful coastal path and saw some good pieces and some junk.

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We met up with Jo and Kane off the ferry and ate at a fashionable Thai restaurant.

30th Jan

Bought a cooker and folding chairs to go with our other camping stuff and negotiated car hire.  We walked into the centre of town, ate sandwiches in the shade of an enormous oak tree in a park before visiting the art gallery, a beautiful building but we didn’t manage to see the Maori art.  Packed up for our weekend trip.  Set off an hour later than our ETD at 20:00 to Tiha, about half an hour away and stopped for fish and chips on the way.  In the end it was a rush to get to the campsite before 21:00 when it shut.  We ate our tea then pitched tents in the dark.

31st Jan

Our pitch was close to a noisy road and it rained in the night and drizzled on and off all day.  The beach was spectacular and we walked along it and back over the cliffs.  Kane and Paige went surfing in the afternoon.

Tiha beach

Tiha beach

Jo, Kane and Paige

Jo, Kane and Paige

 

Lookout on the cliff walk

Lookout on the cliff walk

1st Feb

More Welsh weather but a pleasant day pottering between the well equipped kitchen, the cafe, the art gallery and the beach.  Left after lunch and in the late afternoon had dinner with Kane’s lovely family, mother Janine, sister and husband, Lee and Tom and niece, Grace.  the rain really came down.

2nd Feb
Picked up our hire car and packed up for our adventure. Set off in convoy behind Jo and called in to buy food and drink. Drove to the Coramandel Peninsula and stopped in the mountains at 14:00 for lunch by a stream. A bit further on we stopped by a pool, Sue and I swam and Kane and Jo leapt from rocks into it. Eventually we arrived at Hahei and set up camp close to the beach. We had snacks, wraps and a game of blob.
3rd Feb
It rained in the night and was still drizzling in the morning but the soon burned off and we set off for Cathedral Cove, a short drive to the car park and then a 40 minute walk through lovely woodland. We swam and Jo and Kane did some dives, jumps. We had a salad and fruit lunch in the shade at the back of the beach then walked back up. We drove to Hot Water Beach where there was good surf and I managed to get dumped and hit my head and grazed my shoulder. At low tide if you dig down any depth you hit hot water coming from below. I burned my feet. Then we visited the art gallery and purchased a Maori mask for our display back home.

 

Afternoon pool for a swim

Afternoon pool for a swim

 

Our camp at Hahei

Our camp at Hahei

 

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

 

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

 

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

 

4th Feb
My cold persists plus I had earache due, I think, to wax getting dislodged in the surf. Tummy upset makes we quite weak. We pack up just before the rain, which lasts until mid afternoon, starts. Have lunch, sheltering under a tree in Mt Maunganui, walked to the end of the peninsula and had a coffee before continuing towards Rotorua. We pitched camp then walked to the lake past steaming streams and vents. The sand at the edge of the lake was hot too.  We luxuriated in the campsites hot pool for half an hour then Jo and Kane went for a meal and Sue and I stayed and had sweet corn and beans on toast.  It poured most of the night.

5th Feb

We packed up early and set off for Wai o Tau to catch the Lady geyser which is set. Off by a ranger dropping a chemical which lowers the surface tension of the water.

The geyser before eruption

The geyser before eruption

 

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It was impressive and lasted ages before we drove back to the start of a 70 minute walk round an area littered with steam vents, boiling mud, green lakes and other amazing volcanic sights.

Boiling mud lake

Boiling mud lake

We met up with Kane and Jo at Kerosene Creek where we swam in a hot stream and had lunch.

Volcanic river

Volcanic river

We drove the rest of the way to Taupo where we did a shop and then struck camp on a free campsite by a river.

6th Feb
It rained overnight again and some of our fellow campers deliberately kept us awake with shouting, pretend animal noises and even driving around with the horn blaring. After breakfast we went into Taupo and booked a self-catering apartment for 2 nights in the Isite. We unpacked there and had lunch before walking to the Huka falls. On the way back we bathed in yet another thermal spring. We made ourselves ready for the walk, the Tongariro Crossing.
7th Feb
Up at 5:30 on the road by 6:15, at the start of the walk by 7:58. Very busy but managed to park a car at each end. The way up was marred by the sun in my eyes, my slow pace with pressure from faster walkers and an over manicured path with steps and platforms. However it was all worth it, the dramatic volcanic scenery was breathtaking and the path at the top like a proper mountain path. The weather was perfect, because although it was cold it was reasonably calm and it was sunny. It took ages to get down but the scenery kept changing and we ended up walking through shady woodland.

Sue at the start of the walk

Sue at the start of the walk

On the way

On the way

At the top

At the top

Starting the descent

Starting the descent

Looking back

Looking back

 

Looking back again

Looking back again

 

 

After a couple of cold beers and a shower we set off for a celebratory meal, watching the 7s rugby final at the same time. I dedicated the walk to Chris for all the wonderful times we had walking when he still could.

8th Feb
Up quite early again, this time to pack up as we had to be out of our apartment by 10. After a final coffee with Jo and Kane we were on our own. We walked round Taupo until we found some replacement poles for Kane’s tent then set off for Napier, stopping at a campsite by the beach just north of the town. After replacing the damaged pole sections we did a crossword and generally chilled out.

9th Feb
We drove into Napier and called in at the ISite and booked tickets for a walking tour of the town, noted for its Art Deco architecture. We drove a bit further down Marine Parade to get free parking and walked into town where we bought a coffee and caught up on the Internet. We only had time for a brief visit to some gardens before buying lunch and after rushing to the start of our tour which started off as a slide show before walking around and admiring the buildings which were put up in 2 years after the town was destroyed by an earthquake. The guide was enthusiastic but I wasn’t particularly impressed. It was very hot. Every year, the 2nd weekend in February they have an Art Deco festival which looked fun. We filled up with petrol and did a food shop and ate our meal on a shingle bank overlooking the beach.
10th Feb
It rained during the night and packing up was no fun. We set off South around 10 and had a coffee at a winery about an hour later wondering what to do. It was cold, so different from yesterday. Picnic lunch then a drive down country roads to a basic DOC campsite – facilities, water from the river, composting loo, in the Ruahine Forest Park by the Pohangina river. So remote. We dried everything off in a brisk, cold wind and went to bed early.

Pohangina River

Pohangina River

Road by campsite

Road by campsite

11th Feb

Thought about a swim in the clear waters so the river and waded in up to my waist but it was cold and the water not really deep enough. Drove south on minor roads hoping for a nice coffee spot and found an average one in a little town.  After our avocado sandwiches and a little walk round a small nature reserve we stopped at Mount Bruce Wildlife Reserve where we saw some of NZ s wildlife, including a white kiwi.  The most impressive were large eels and the feeding of wild kaka birds.  We stopped the night in Masterton.
12th Feb
A chill out day in beautiful sunshine, a walk in the park, coffee and lunch in lovely cafes. Booked the ferry South for Monday. Read, did a crossword, washed sheets and towels and did a bit of food shopping.

13th Feb

Packed up and walked into town for coffee and cash. Stopped off at a shell outlet in Castleton for Sue to shop then arrived in Wellington in busy traffic. A bit of a nightmare finding accommodation but eventually we found the perfect place, a serviced apartment in the centre of town. It was cold and windy. We went out for a meal in a busy, noisy restaurant on the seafront and had an early night.
14th Feb
After breakfast in our apartment we took a ride in the cable car and walked down through the very impressive Botanical gardens. We had lunch in a breakfast bar and then strolled to the underground market where locals pedalled their craft wares. Nothing really grabbed us. We waited for ages in the ISite and came away with tickets for the Circa theatre to see Seed. Then walked to the theatre to reserve our seats. The supermarket was nearby so we bought a few items. It was a long walk back and we only had less than two hours to eat and get to the theatre. We had a delicious sweet corn and fruit. The play was amusing, all about the business of getting pregnant.
15th Feb
Still cold and cloudy but lots going on. After a coffee we went to Shed 6 to a celebration of the Chinese New Year where we watched various acts, some excellent, some amateur and ate Eastern food.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

We took a break from that and walked along the seafront, finding interest all the way, musicians, stalls, an amazing fruit and veg market, interesting sculptures etc.

Fruit market

Fruit market

We spent a little time in the Museum, learning about the geology of NZ with its earthquakes and volcanoes. An excellent display and there was lots more to see but we were exhausted. On the way back to our apartment we called in on Shed 6 again, had an ice cream and watched the last few performances on stage, the highlight being a dragon dance. A vibrant city. Watched almost the whole India Pakistan World Cup match.
16th Feb
Up early to catch the ferry to The South Island. Stunning scenery. Arrived at Picton at lunchtime, found a campsite and pitched camp. Sue contacted someone she knew vaguely and we drove to Blenheim to meet her. We had a meal and chat before driving back.
17th Feb
We were a bit naughty and didn’t make in into Picton town until nearly lunchtime but we had a plan. We booked a boat trip on the mail boat which drops mail and supplies at little settlements round Queen Charlotte sound. This left at 13:30 so we had our sandwiches on the quay. The trip itself was wonderful. It was a clear blue sky and the skipper entertained us with information. We’d also booked for a 24 km ridge walk along the sound so we went to bed early.

One mail drop

One mail drop

18th Feb
Up at 06:30 and walked into town, buying lunch and breakfast on the way. We were dropped off at Torea Bay at 08:13 and were horrified to learn we were to be picked up at 15:06, less than 7 hours later. The notice at the beginning of the walk said 9 hours. The walk was not hard, quite a bit of up and down, mainly shady but it was a rush to finish it in such a short time. imageimageimage Most of the other walkers we met had 8 1/2 hours to do it so we were cross and complained to Isite who had booked it for us. They agreed we had good grounds for complaint. The views along the ridge, when we were not in vegetation were stupendous and we chatted to some of the other walkers doing it the same way as us. We were completely bushed when we finished and went to bed early.
19th Feb
We set off west towards Nelson having arranged to meet Max and David. On the way we stopped off by a river for lunch and I managed a skinny dip in the freezing waters. We phoned Max in Nelson only to find they were a couple of hours away in Takaka. The drive there was spectacular over a huge mountain range and the campsite lovely, by a huge sandy beach. We had a drink with them before our meal.
22nd Feb
Spent a few days in Takaka, in Golden Bay, and met up with Max and David, friends from Porthmadog. Visited a lovely waterfall, the largest spring in the Southern Hemisphere, had a couple of before breakfast swims, saw A Brief History of Time, in a cute cinema. It was hot and sunny.imageimage
24th Feb
Drove north towards Farewell Spit and camped in a remote campsite. After pitching the tent we joined a 4-wheel drive bus that took us along the Spit, the second longest in the world, to just past the lighthouse, about 25 km away. We saw lots of birds and sand dunes and a few seals and returned back as darkness fell.
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It rained next morning but cleared after we had a coffee at the Spit cafe. We walked to Cape Farewell and a wonderful beach, completely overdressed as the sun had come out.
imageimage Max and David had joined us and we had a meal and a long chat together.
Today we managed to put the tent etc away just before the heavens opened. Sue couldn’t find her phone. She checked the site but it was raining too hard to take everything out of the car. We did this once we reached Kaiteriteri to no avail and I went online to try to find it. We’ve booked to go kayaking and walking on the Able Tasman route.
25th Feb
Up early with a full day booked. 08:30 on the beach for instructions on sea kayaking. Had a lovely morning on the sea, with coffee and biscuits supplied on the beach. A quick dash back to camp to organise ourselves for our afternoon cruises and walk on the Able Tasman Trail. We were dropped off at one beach and walked for about 1 1/2 hours to another where we had a lovely swim.
imageimageimageimageimageOur transport back caught us by surprise and we were frantically trying to get out of our wet swimwear. Max and David were camped next to us. We decided to eat out with them in a pub where they had a quiz. We came last but didn’t disgrace ourselves.
26th Feb
We took everything out of the car searching for Sue’s phone without success. Sue has contacted the police, DOC, the campsite and another nearby to report the loss. Then we drove into Motueka with David and Max to go online etc. We shared a lovely meal with them in the campsite kitchen.
27th Feb
We had a bit of trouble drying the tent before we set off because of the heavy dew. A little after 10 we set off South, calling in at a lovely little place, Taperara, for coffee and a ginger slice. We’ve got the recepie! It was quite a long drive but the weather was amazing and we broke the journey with a picnic lunch and a visit to the longest swing bridge in NZ, over the Buller River, famed for its gold mining history. imageimageimage
The campsite at Carters Beach, Westport, is immaculate with the best facilities we’ve come across so far. We walked along the beach and then ate out at a nearby restaurant.
28th Feb
We went into Westport and headed for the library so Sue could Skype her family. After a coffee there we went back to the campsite for lunch before driving to the beginning of a cliff side walk by Cape Foulwind. It was still hot when we got back so we had a swim on Carters Beach where the waves knocked us both over. After a pasta meal we drove back to Westport to watch a film, The Second Marigold Hotel, which was a bit disappointing.
1st March
It had rained in the night and we struggled to dry the tent. We drove to Charleston where we were booked on an adventure which turned out to be wonderful. We were kitted out with wetsuits and life jackets and taken by bus, train and foot through native forest to a cave. We walked two km through marvelling at the stalegtites and stalagmites. Then we lay on our backs in large rubber rings and were pulled slowly through a stream viewing the cave roof covered in glow worms. Finally we went downstream on our rings to the start.
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We drove south and camped in a beautiful campsite at Punakaiki.
2nd March
Set off to Pancake Rocks to be there for high tide at 10. The rock formation was amazing but there wasn’t enough swell to get the blow.
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imageUnfortunately one of the poles snapped in the night and made a hole in Kane’s tent. We did our best to repair it. After lunch we walked up the Pororari River for an hour and I had my first proper skinny dip. Wow it was cold.
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We were given freshly caught fish by a kind man.
3rd March
Set off South into driving rain. It was torrential in Greymouth, nor did we see much as we crossed over Arthur’s Pass until we were on the east side. We met a drive of 2,000 sheep which blocked the road for a long way.
image We drove all day until we reached the resort of Akoroa where we camped the night and treated ourselves to a meal out.
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5th March
Yesterday we did some shopping in town then drove to a remote bay on the Pacific. Today we went on a boat trip to see the wildlife and some amazing cliffs. Hectors Dolphins were abundant and swam under our bow, we saw a metre long kingfish but didn’t catch it, a large remote rock pool which served as a nursery for young seals.
imageimageimageimage We had groper panini for lunch and chilled in the hot sun.
6th March
It was very windy in the night and I had to fix additional guys to the tent in the early hours. Just after we got up the heavens opened and we had to pack the tent up wet. We drove to Littleton, stopping off at a gallery and cafe in Little River. The ISite wasn’t up to much and we were only offered a B & B. Instead we drove to the one in Christchurch who fixed us up with an ensuite room in the YMCA. The rain cleared and we had a sunny afternoon. After lunch we visited a graffiti artist exhibition and walked round the lovely botanic gardens. We had a lovely meal in a trendy restaurant with great live jazz.
7th March
We were kept awake a lot of the night by some Maori women banging and chattering. We met up with Jo and Kane at Scott and Olivia’s house and after pitching the tent and a coffee drove into town for our city walking tour. Signs of earthquake damage and rebuilding were everywhere.
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8th March
Drove to a market on a racecourse where I bought a belt and all the others bought merino wool socks.
imageThen we drove back into the centre of town to the last two acts of the Maori festival, which were very enjoyable. We entertained our hosts with a BBQ in the evening.
9th March
We said goodbye to Christchurch and our hosts and drove north to Kaikoura. After setting up camp we did a 3 hour walk round the peninsula with its stunning cliffs and limestone pavements.
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10th March
Up early, packed the tent up wet and turned up for our sea-fishing trip at 8:45. We started off pulling up lobster traps, measuring them and throwing the small ones back. Then we motored further out and fished for sea perch in 100 metres. We caught loads and Sue landed a large bream. The crew filleted them, keeping the rest for bait. In 2 hours we ended up with enough filleted fish for four meals and two rock lobsters. Very happy. We drove north to Picton, unfortunately missing Max and David and booked the evening ferry and accommodation in Wellington.
12th March
We arrived in Wellington at 22:30 and went straight to bed. We had Sue’s fish with egg for breakfast. In the morning we found an opticians and they kindly fixed my glasses. Then we drove north, stopping for a lunch break at a lakeside nature reserve which we walked through.
imageimageWe stopped at a beachside campsite at Mowhanau, just north of Wanganui and had a swim in big waves, rinsing off the salt in a stream. We had more fish for dinner in a risotto, leaving the crayfish for another day. It poured in the night. We drove into Wanganui and enjoyed visiting their winter gardens and lake before going into town.
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Used one of the only two lifts in a hill and then climbed a tower to see the views. After lunch we saw some glass blowing and visited the museum with an amazing Maiori canoe before driving on a dirt road to a deserted beach.
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In the evening we cooked our crayfish and chatted to Carol and Michael.
13th March
We debated whether to have a weekend at Raglan or drive all the way to Auckland. Because the weather was unsettled with cyclone Pam forecast we aimed for Auckland. It was a long drive, about 8 hours, but we arrived shortly after Jo at 1800 and then Kane and Paige arrived and we all ate together.
14th March
Went to a Pacifica Festival and then the beach
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imageand in the evening Janine came over for a meal and we watched a film, half in Turkish with Chinese subtitles and the other half in Australian.
15th March
Went into town and we were dropped off by a St Patrick’s parade before going to an exhibition by Billy Apple in the art gallery while Jo, Kane and Paige went shopping. Janine invited us to dinner and we watched the cricket.
16th March
The cyclone Pam hit us in the night but by morning the rain and wind had abated so we loaded our gear and set off north, watching some great surfing at lunchtime and finishing off at Whangarei, by the falls.
17th March
Went to Whangarei Heads in the morning. They have a biannual art workshop where artists from all over the world create works of art and share ideas. Then we drove to Ocean Bay, watched the surfers while we drank our coffee then walked round the headland. We drove to Urquhart Bay and did a circular walk to Smugglers Bay. It was showery but we missed most of the rain until we drove home. Move on tomorrow.
18th March
Set off from Whargarei after photographing the falls and purchasing some fillet steak and broccoli for dinner. Chose the wrong road and did a scenic and very twisty coast tour. After our coffee routine we arrived in Kawakawa to view their amazing toilets. We wanted to view some volcanic pools but the shop where the guide told us we could get tickets was closed and no one seemed to know anything about it. It was past lunchtime and I got fractious. We drove on to Rawene on the Hokianga estuary and booked a cabin at the vast price of $50.
imageAfter a cuppa I walked and Sue drove into ‘town’. Then we walked on a raised platform through some mangrove swamps. The steak was delicious and while I cooked it Sue planed our next day’s activities.
19th March
Set off in overcast weather. Sue had planed a day of activities but I spotted a lookout over the entrance and bar to the Hokianga harbour but it was raining so we didn’t stop. Next was a puzzle shop about 5 km down a dirt road.
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A concrete Indian elephant greeted us and we were each given a puzzle to do. Sue’s was easy but mine, which Sue took over, only possible when you knew the solution. We stopped for a beautiful coffee in a tiny place and devoted the rest of the day to the kauri tree, the second largest species in the world.
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First visited the largest, close to the road, then spent a couple of hours in a kauri forest marvelling at them. We stopped near a small forest and booked a cabin. The site had a wonderful river running round much of it and was wonderful. We went on a guided night walk in the forest for 3 hours and even spotted a kiwi.
20th March
The weather started beautiful but deteriorated. Our first stop was a kauri carving shop on a minor road, beautiful tables costing thousands and less expensive items. After coffee and a quick look at some dune lakes
imagewe saw a peak we just had to climb. Only half an hour up and down but our muscles really felt it.imageimage
We stopped at the Kauri museum had lunch and I spent some time in enjoying the display of the giant, late Victorian machines that handled these huge trees, while Sue tried to find some accommodation without success.
We took the windier west coast road south and stopped off to view a gannet colony at a lovely beach.
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22nd March
A day with Kane and Jo, visiting a farmers market, then a pop festival in the park by their house. Went to a bar in the evening. image
23rd March
Caught the ferry to Waiheke Island with Jo and Kane and then hired bicycles, which was a bit mad with the traffic and the hills. Also because we went to several vineyards wine tasting. We cycled about 12 miles in all and sampled 8 wines and 6 beers.
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24th March
Up early to take the hire car back only to spot a note saying our car had been hit by a hit and run driver. The hire company took $900 excess off us but because the accident had been reported to the police with a registration number we may get this back. We then caught the train and walked to the botanic gardens and spent the day there. In the evening we took Jo, Kane, Janine out for a meal in town.
25th March
Did some washing and cooking and then walked to Eden Park to watch the semi final of the World Cup between NZ and SA. SA played brilliantly but rain stopped play for 90 minutes and the overs were reduced to 43. NZ had a huge total, 298, and managed it with two balls to spare. A thrilling match and the crowd went wild.
26th March
Packed and did some cleaning and washing of the flat that had been our home for a while. Taxi booked for 15:30.