North Island, New Zealand, Driving around in our campervan, Week 3

North Island, New Zealand, Driving around in our campervan, Week 3

Day 15-Monday 20th September 2010 Whangeri

This morning we went to see Whangeri Falls, which were just a short drive from the centre, Then we drove to Whangeri heads and went to Ocean Beach. This was one of our favourite beaches with white sands, beautiful green hills behind us, sand dunes and trees everywhere.

Whangeri Falls

Whangeri Falls

Ocean Beach-Paul writing a message in the sand

Ocean Beach-Paul writing a message in the sand

Ruth on ocean beach

Ruth on ocean beach

In the afternoon we drove to Abbey Caves. We walked down to the cave and took a look in, but there was a lot of water in the cave and we would of needed a torch to go inside fully.

We also went to see one tree hill, Marsden point and an oil refinery. Then we drive through the town of Waipu, which is an old Scottish town. Then we drove to Waipu cove, a beautiful long sandy beach.

We strayed in Whangeri for the night.

Day 16-Tuesday 21st September 2010 Whangeri-Bay of Islands

We left Whangeri early this morning, and took the twin coast discovery drive towards the Bay of Islands. We stopped at a few beaches on our drive towards the Bay of islands. First of all at Whangeum Bay, which was a cove beach, then to Matapouri Bay, where we wrote the birthday message in the sand for, Jeff, Steven, Nan, David, Louise and my Mum. We also stopped at Whale Bay.

Paul writing a birthday message for our families

Paul writing a birthday message for our families

We arrived in Russell (Bay of Islands) at about 4.30pm. Russell was the first capital of New Zealand, until 1841 when it became Auckland and then Wellington. We took a look around Russell, which is a small but lovely town. We walked up to view point in Russell, where we were able to see a fantastic few over the Islands.

Bay of Islands, view from Russell

Bay of Islands, view from Russell

We decided to drive just across the bay from Russell to Paihia. This town was much more built up, with shops, café’s, hotels and a tourist information. We booked a cruise trip around the Bay of Islands for tomorrow with Explore NZ. We had a voucher for buy 1 get 1 free, so we got both tickets for $89 (£45). This was for a 4 hour cruise trip, taking us around the different Islands and also to see the Dolphins.

We found a car park in Paihia that cost $12 for 24 hours to park up. Campervans are allowed to stay in the car park, so we decided to sleep there for the night.

Day 17-Wednesday 22nd September 2010 Paihia

We woke up this morning at 7am in good time for our cruise trip, which started at 9am. It was raining when we first got on to the boat, but luckily it soon cleared up. I’m so glad we took the cruise as it’s a perfect way in a short time to see the Bay of Islands. The boat took us close by several of the islands. There are 144 islands in total but only a few have people living on them. We were shown around some of the islands that are privately owned by people. They have car takers who look after the islands for them, not a bad job!!

Bay of islands-Privately owned Island

Bay of islands-Privately owned Island

Island that we stopped at for lunch

Island that we stopped at for lunch

We got to see lot’s of Dolphins out today.

Dolphins-This is the best picture I could get

Dolphins-This is the best picture I could get

We stopped at the biggest island, which was owned by a member of the cruise crew. It was passed down from the generations through his family and now it belongs to him. We stopped on the island for lunch.

I would definitely recommend doing a tour with Explore NZ. It was a great way of seeing the islands and the staff make the whole trip very enjoyable, plus they know a lot about the islands and are there to answer any questions along the way.

In the afternoon we visited Haruru Falls. Haruru means ‘Big Noise’ in Maori. Maori legend states that a taniwka (water monster) lives in the lagoon below, so be careful! When we got to the falls there was a beautiful rainbow coming right over the waterfall.

Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls

Rainbow-Haruru Falls

Rainbow-Haruru Falls

Next we went to the Golf course in Paihia. This is a great place to catch a sunrise as it’s up high and looks over the bay of islands. We went down to the rocks by the golf course as we had spotted dolphins in the sea in the distance. Unfortunately they had gone by the time we got back down.

We slept in Paihia tonight.

Day 18- Thursday 23rd September 2010 Paihia-Cape Reinga-Kaitaia

We woke up at 5am this morning, so that we could go and watch the sunrise up at the golf course. Luckily for us the sky was really clear, so we were able to catch an amazing sunrise.

Sunrise in Paihia

Sunrise in Paihia

After sunrise we got showers in a near by town and set off towards Cape Reinga (Light House at the northern tip). We stopped off in a place called Manginangina, to go on a walk around a forest, where there were loads of Kauri trees. Kauri trees take over 600 years to grow and grow really straight. They used them for masts of ships, because of their strength and straightness. Unfortunately there are not many of them left.

Kauri Trees

Kauri Trees

We also stopped in a small harbour town called Mangonui for ice cream. Then we stopped off in Kaitaia, before heading on to Cape Reinga.

Paul had been reading this morning in a news paper about whales that had been washed up on the shore, because of the strong winds. This happened on spirits bay, not far from Cape Reinga. We decided to stop off on our way. There were loads of volunteers there, helping to keep the whales in the water. Over 40 whales had already died after being washed up onto the shore. They planned on trying to get the rest onto trucks and take them to another bay that was more sheltered. They managed to rescue about 10 of them.

volunteers with the whales

volunteers with the whales

Beached Whale

Beached Whale

We finally got to Cape Reinga at about 5.30pm. It felt weird standing right at the tip of the country. We walked down to the light house and got some quick pictures before getting blown away. It was so windy.

Ruth and Paul-Cape Reinga

Ruth and Paul-Cape Reinga

We went back to Kaitaia (about an hours drive back) to sleep there for the night. There is nothing but a light house at Cape Reinga, so we couldn’t stay there.

Day 19-Friday 24th September 2010 Kaitaia to Whangeri

Today we went to see 90 mile beach. We drove to the first entrance to 90 mile beach, where you are able to drive on, when the tide is out. We weren’t able to drive on the beach however, as our car hire doesn’t allow it. Many cars get wrecked on the 90 mile beach and stuck, which is not surprising. It made me laugh when we arrived at the beach and saw a sign giving the speed limit on the beach as 100km Hr. We certainly would not rate the beach as one of our top beaches. The water looked so unclean,  this is probably from dirt and pollution because it is used as a road. Bus tours and cars come up the beach daily.

We drove  to another entrance of the beach, more north. This was a nicer part of the beach, however it was still very polluted. We parked the car up and took a walk up the beach and walked on the sand dunes which are  all along the beach.

After spending the morning on 90 mile beach, we continued driving on to Whangeri. We arrived in the evening at about 6pm. We stayed there for the night.

Day 20-Saturday 25th September 2010 Paul’s Birthday-Whangeri to Auckland

Today was Paul’s birthday. We started the day off by going to Ocean Beach at Whangeri heads (where we had been before). On the way I hit a large bird called a Pukeko that was running across the road. I didn’t have time to stop. It was a horrible feeling hitting it. I had tried to swerve but the bird ran under the car and hit the back wheelsL We planned on watching the sunrise, but unfortunately it was so cast over, that we couldn’t even see the sun.

We went to Paul’s favourite ‘Family Restaurant’ for breakfast….yes you’ve got it…McDonalds. He got pancakes and I got a toasted Bagel. Then we drove back to Auckland (2 hours drive). I asked Paul what he wanted to do for his birthday and he said go to the cinema, I didn’t think this meant going 3 times in 1 day, but that’s what we did. First of all I chose to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the IMAX cinema. I think we were the only couple in the cinema without kids, oh well. It had an extra song in the film ‘Human again’, which is also in the stage musical version. Next we went to see ‘Wall Street’ then ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’. We finished off the day with Domino’s Pizza. He would of loved a Kearnes sausage sandwich, but I couldn’t pull that one off. That will just have to wait till Christmas, when we are home in Ireland.

Day 21-Sunday 26th September 2010

Our camper was due back today. We checked into the City Travellers hotel before taking our spaceship back. Luckily everything was fine with our retuned camper, so no extra costs were added. We really enjoyed having the camper and don’t think we could of got around any better way!

Friday 1st October 2010

We stayed in Auckland until Tuesday 28th September, then we flew to Christchurch (South Island). We have been staying in a beautiful honey moon suite for the last few nights, here in Christchurch. We managed to get the room at a very good price, so couldn’t refuse. It will be hard leaving the room and going back to sleeping in a camper. Today we will be picking up another spaceship camper, to tour around the south island for 2 weeks.

We will keep you updated as soon as possible about our time here on the South Island.

Paul and Ruth

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