A Travellerspoint blog

Day 38 Orewa to Raglan

38mm, surf, beef, sprinkler

semi-overcast 20 °C

With a busy day ahead we had aimed to leave Orewa at 9am, as all the locals advise travel before then is dreadful. As it was, saying goodbye to Carrie, making use of their wifi and enjoying a nice breakfast, we didnt head off South to Auckland until 10. Nat had to do an Indiana Jones leaving Andy's as our way of leaving their house secure was to close the automatic garage door from inside and make it out through the ever narrowing gap. 

It took no time to get to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, only built in 1959, and to enjoy some of the magnificent views of the city it provides. There are only 4 million people in N.Z. and they have the largest number of boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. 

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Our aim this morning is to park the beauty and head up the Sky Tower. Sadly the very top Sky Deck is closed for renovation so we can only go up to the main Observation Deck. Nevertheless the panoramic views it provides are breathtaking and from some 50 odd floors up you can see just how surrounded this city is by water. Lots and lots of water. We place all our trust in 38mm of glass floor.

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Lunch is planned at 12.30 over in Point Chevalier (Point Chev to the locals) with Maza and Richard and their little boy Tyler. Dottie has been looking forward to seeing Tyler for a few days and instantly enjoys time with him, whilst we are treated to authentic Persian cuisine courtesy of Maza's mum who is fully in charge of the kitchen. Maza is in charge of the Pimms (oops....there goes my navigator for the drive to Raglan later). Dottie and Tyler get soaked in the sprinkler and have a cuddle as we leave. Too little time.

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Neil told us to get out of Auckland by 2.30 and we are at 3.15 before we head off. We hit traffic and spend half an hour queuing at the one car per red light entry to State Highway 1......although the road itself was pretty empty. We are going to struggle to meet our appointment with Neil at the Harbour View Hotel at 5pm at this rate. We follow Neil's instructions and but still find ourselves an hour late, the scenery and forced photo stops down into Raglan don't help. Sometimes the views are typically English, other times tropical with palms. It's all very green

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The Harbour View Hotel supplies us with cold beers on our arrival. A nice spot.

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Driving out to Neil and Paulas batch we pass the main surfing beach at Ngaranui and are wowwed by the sheer vastness and number of breakers coming in.

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Beef stew and a good catch up over a few beers and the day is done. You can't beat the time spent with friends and family

Posted by cpbrooks 14:43 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Day 37 Paihia to Orewa

Waterfalls,

overcast 15 °C

Just 3kms West of Paihia are the Haruru Falls. As we park up a fellow visitor warns us that the wild chickens wandering around the car park are likely to peck our shoes. We pass them without incident. Dottie has taken to photography and will now happily take the camera, just able to hold its weight, and take numerous pictures. The second picture of the falls here is Dottie's first ever blog entry. I hope you like it.

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The chickens got us on the way back. One attacked Dottie, got hold of her trousers in its beak and went crazy. Dottie went crazy, we all went crazy. I had to pull the thing off her. She still managed to say 'bye bye chickens' through the tears.

We visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where on the 6th February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and the British setting out the governance of New Zealand. Each year there are both celebrations and protests, depending on your views.

Heading South we take our first stop at Whangarei for lunch at Whangarei Falls, a 26 meter fall and supposedly one of the most photographed in N.Z.

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Leaving the State Highway 1 at Waipu we head off to Waipu Cove for a walk on the fabulous beach there. A beautiful cove with 2 islands off the coast called Chicken and Hen (I'm not sure which came first). Dottie collected shells.

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Following the road South we passed Langs Beach, another beautiful spot and Mangawhai Heads, reaching Orewa, where Nats cousin Andy lives with his wife Carrie.

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A great long beach just 20 odd kms North of Auckland. We enjoyed catching up and all the luxuries of their place including sitting out until late around the firepit. No raccoons.

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Posted by cpbrooks 12:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (4)

Day 36 Paihia (Bay of Islands)

Islands, dolphins, wetsuit, sleep

sunny 16 °C

Our overnight prayers for better weather paid off and we woke up to this, the view from our campsite

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Setting off for the 5 minute drive to the wharf in Paihia where our cruise sets sail from, we are all very excited. I'm hoping we see dolphins because we have built them up for Dot. It's a beautiful morning and we can't believe our luck, this trip wouldn't be the same in the rain. We get chatting to one of TeamGB's trialtheletes who happens to be on the trip following the Auckland World Championships and he takes this snap for us

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Good at running, swimming and cycling and takes a half decent picture too.

The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands and is the origininal landing place of Captain James Cook. We initially head for Russell, a small village across the bay from Paihia, where we pick up a few more people on the trip. The trip has only just started running again following winter and there are very few people on board. It's odd that on our travels we have either been amongst the last visitors of the season or the first, everything here is just warming up for the summer.

It's not long before we encounter dolphins (thank heavens) and we count at least 18 in a large group. Dottie gets to see them close up, jumping and swimming with the boat. Each time they surfaced and blew out their air we noticed little mini rainbows were created.

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We visited Moturoa, Rangihoua Bay and the Black Rocks (formations much like the Giants Causeway). We passed Motukiekie, a privately owned island and passed between Okahu and Waewaetorea where these next two pictures were taken.

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Lunch was an hour at Otehei Bay, a wonderfully secluded bay with a little cafe where we had pie, chips and beers and a play on the grass. We were trying to get a picture of Finn sitting up on his own, which he can now do, but you know who couldn't resist the limelight and it turned into this....

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The most famous of all sights in the bay is Motukokako or Piercy Island or the Hole in the Rock as it is known. It's the island furthers out in the Pacific so marks a turning point for us, and with the sea conditions as they are we are lucky enough to be able to pass through, not something that everyone gets to do.

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On our return we meet up with dolphins again and the opportunity for a swim with them comes up. It's all a bit hit and miss, the dolphins may stay and play they may not. Nats not keen, I'm in two minds given the water is 14 degrees, there are about 10 people up for it, three dolphins at the last count and I'm having to strip off next to this TeamGB triathlete we have aquainted (who probably swims faster than the dolphins in any case). Oh well, here goes. A fellow passenger lady from the Scilly Ilses (she is a flower farmer there.....sounds like a lovely way to make a living....Narcissus) offers to hold Finn. We are dragged around the bay in a net after these dolphins and make three attempts to swim off with them, trouble is they are faster and smarter than us (even triathletes) and we eventually retreat defeated. I'm the one in the middle of the photo at the bottom, blue head strap, balding.....just so you don't mistake me with our TeamGB friend, he's the one top left, yellow snorkel.....also balding I'm pleased to discover.

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Once dry we set off and enjoy a bit more of the bay before returning to Paihia for a nice cold beer on the wharf. Dottie slept for two hours on the top deck and missed the Hole in the Rock and her dad swimming with triathletes (as opposed to dolphins)

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A fabulous day and I'd recommend the full day trip to anyone visiting. We went with Great Sights tours

Posted by cpbrooks 11:25 Archived in New Zealand Comments (7)

Day 35 Auckland to Paihia

Toilets, beauty, grey

overcast 17 °C

We were very fortunate that it was Labour Day when we arrived here in N.Z. It meant that we were able to spend the day with Neil and Paula as they were all off work and shifts allowed, but today everyone is off to work and we are left to sort ourselves out. Every time you look out across the harbour from their house the view changes. Today is a very grey day and by the time we leave the cloud and rain have moved in and even the end of their deck is hard to see.

There has been some debate about what day we are on of the 70 days around the world. Some schools of thought suggest this is day 35 and therefore halfway, others that it's day 36, depending on your view of time and calendar days. It was a first for all of us crossing the international dateline. We've lost a few things on the trip as you know, but a whole Sunday. That's just irresponsible.

First thing of the day is a trip into Auckland to pick up the car seat we left in Neil's car from yesterday....a good start. From there it's North up State Highway 1 through Warkworth, stopping at Wellsford for provisions, on to Whangarei and then on to Paihia where we were to spend the night. The weather improved but no sign of sunshine sadly. Bizarre as it might seem one of the highlight was our stop off at Kawakawa, just short of Paihia, to see the world famous Hundertwasser's toilets. Yes toilets. It reminded us of the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. It is the most photographs I have ever taken of a toilet, here are a couple to give you some idea.....

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Great to be back in the van after almost a week in hotels and on flights. We celebrated, once the kids were snugged up, with a glass or two of wine.

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Cruise all booked for tomorrow. Five hours out around the Bay of Islands.....let's hope the weather picks up.

Posted by cpbrooks 11:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Day 34 Auckland

Welcome, chips, roast

overcast 15 °C

How wonderful it was to be met by Neil and Paula at Auckland airport. After almost 5 weeks of continually moving from place to place it was fabulous to see familiar faces. I've been promising to visit Neil and Paula since they moved out here 11 years ago. I finally made it. It was great to see them and they had a 'welcome' balloon for Dottie and instantly became her best friends. She loves a balloon. The wait was made even longer by the fact that we were the very last people through customs thanks to some rather serious hiking boot cleaning that needed to be done by the environment protection guys

We picked up what we have decided to call the 'beauty', our campervan for N.Z. She is a mere 7 metres, 6 gears, diesel and turns on a sixpence, although it was a little awkward getting her up Neil and Paula's drive in Titirangi. We were 'wowwed' by the view they enjoy of the harbour from their house and the deck that sits out over the garden. Dot got presents and we could all tell she felt very comfortable being in a home atmosphere after so long on the move.

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Neil found time to get to know Finn alongside cooking a full monty for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner.....or whatever time of day it was), which we enjoyed on the deck.

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Joined by Annie we headed off across the Waitakere Ranges to Karekare Beach taking a walk to look at the waterfall, tread on black sand and build sandcastles.

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Hopefully you can spot Neil.......
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Just a short drive out of the city you find yourself in so much space, thick green rainforest vegetation, untrodden sand and crashing waves. It's where much of 'The Piano' was filmed and the house overlooking is where the Finn brothers wrote and recorded Crowded House albums.

Having worked off breakfast we crossed the headland to Piha Beach. Proper, piping hot, well salt and vinegared chips were the order of the day sitting on the sand.

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The rest of our day then involved planning our 10 nights on a napkin over a few very enjoyable drinks with the whole Stuart family and a roast dinner. A highlight of the trip so far, just great to catch up.

Tomorrow we head North to The Bay of Islands

Posted by cpbrooks 03:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

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