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Doubtless Bay to Puketi Forest - Day 67

A lazy day around the bays

18 °C

An overcast day in the Northland, which was supposed to be a beach day for us! Never mind, we drove around Doubtless Bay, going to a little local fete in Taipa, watching men fish on Coopers Bay and had lunch at Cable bay.
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Then on to a quiet little fishing village called Mangonui, where people of all ages were fishing off the jetty and the community centre had stalls inside selling honey, soaps and knitted items amongst other things.
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It was still early, so we took a scenic drive through a harbour town called Whangaroa - a centre for big game fishing.
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Then round the coast road through Matauri Bay. The scenery was pretty and we saw the strangest post boxes that were made from microwaves?! As usual, we were going to quick to get a picture and then there were no more!
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We stayed down another long dirt track tonight in Puketi Forest, which was peaceful but the toilets were covered in flies. Not only were there dead flies covering the seat but when I felt brave enough, I flipped the lid and flies flew out at me! Needless to say, I couldn't bring myself to go in there so a little nature 'going' had to commence. Ill never think public toilets in England are bad again!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees boats fishing views harbours Comments (0)

Cape Reinga to Maitai Bay - Day 66

An impressive Lighthouse, awesome Sand Dunes, disappointing Ninety Mile Beach and a pretty Bay

21 °C

This morning we braved the cold showers for the first time. It wasn't freezing cold, but definitely not particularly warm either, and I jumped in first. So, so cold! Andrew was impressed that I just flung myself into it, but I think he thought it mustn't be too bad because I'd managed it. He realised soon enough and shouted "Jesus, it's frickin' freezing!" when the cold water hit him.

Another first was that I drove the camper! It was strange because it was an automatic but apart from that it was easy. I took us up to the Cape Reinga lighthouse, which is also the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. This is also a spiritual place for Maori, where the spirits of the recently deceased depart.
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It was a short walk to the lighthouse, but we ran up and down the hill instead and immediately regretted it - it was steep and too hot! Plus were not very fit! The views were very pretty and the lighthouse had one of though 'distance to...' signs. We're so far away from home!
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Next stop was Te Paki Sand dunes for some body boarding down them. We hired a board for about 15 dollars, then made our way across the sand to the biggest dune. I went first, carrying the board while trying walk up sand - not an easy task! Every step I took, I slid back half the same distance and about half way up wind started to come into play and the board was trying to get away from me! Eventually I got up there, with Andrew laughing at me and out of breath. It was a long way down from here! But I jumped on the board and slid down using my feet as brakes, so I didn't go too fast.
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Andrew wasn't laughing when he tried to walk up the sand dune! It really was hard work. When he slid down though, he didn't use his feet as brakes at all, and whizzed down the dune and past me for another few metres! We had another few goes before leaving, getting fast each time - it was too tiring getting up the dune to do much more! (The videos are better, which we'll get online when we return home)
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While we were up here, we thought we'd go and see 90 mile beach, which is actually only about 73 miles long. Cars and buses drive on it, but our rental agreement doesn't allow us to do that, so we just had to drive to it instead. There are lots of ways to get to 90 mile beach but the way we went took us down the longest, bumpiest gravel track we've ever driven on, so long we almost turned back because we thought it couldn't possibly be the way. We got there and it was just another beach really. I guess driving down it is the fun and point of it?
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We then went across the east side of the Northland to Maitai Bay campsite, because we wanted to explore Doubtless Bay tomorrow before heading to Bay of Islands the next day. The campsite was really pretty, with two beaches, its a shame it wasn't warmer so we could have taken advantage of it. Andrew did get into the sea though, but it was so cold.
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches sea lighthouse sand_dunes sand_boarding Comments (2)

Uretiti Beach Camp to Cape Reinga - Day 65

Beautiful beach...until the nudists came out!

24 °C

We woke up after a good sleep - the caving and driving must have tired us out - and headed for the beach. And what a beautiful beach it was! White sand, mountains and islands out to sea. Hardly anyone was in the beach, a few walkers and a lady sunbathing and reading her book.
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The sand was covered in pretty shells, some of them perfect and enormous - I wish I could have brought some back. And the birds were really cute too!
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I felt like I could have stayed here for a long time, it was so peaceful and beautiful. But then in the distance, walking towards us were two people, who must have been wearing speedos or a tiny bikini. Wait, they don't look like they have any clothes on...can't be, they've got hats on. Oh no, it can be. A man and woman were walking towards, completely naked except for sun hats?! We turned around and walked the other way, but I still can't get my head around wearing a hat when you're completely naked?? Anyway, when we turned around a bit later, they'd grabbed their body boards and were surfing the waves of this beautiful beach completely starkers.

Time to go and we had another long drive ahead of us to get to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand. We stopped in a town called Whangerai for shopping and to book our dolphin trip. The tour we chose includes a swim with the dolphins if the conditions are right, so fingers crossed we'll be lucky enough to be able to get in with them.

Along the way we saw some more beautiful scenery...
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We got to our camp at Cape Reinga at a good time, which was in a really pretty bay. We've been able to camp in some really amazing places here so far - in terms of scenery, not facilities! - for very little money.
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Not everything was perfect though. As we started to make dinner the camp stove wouldn't work properly, which meant we had to cook a two pan meal on one hob. It took forever and we ended up making and eating dinner in the dark.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:28 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches birds views campsite Comments (0)

Coromandel - Day 59

24 °C

The first night in the van was a success! With team work, we managed to cook, wash up, put away everything we'd used, turn the back into a bed, brush our teeth and wash our faces - in cold water! You have to work together to do everything as the space is so small. Andrew being tall is handy to put the tent on the back and sort the awning velcro out and me being small means I can make the bed even with little space and move things around inside the van without injuring myself! Perfect! And we slept well too. We were warm, especially with the extra quilt, and the bed was comfy enough too.

We drove up to Coromandel Town, on the western side of the peninsula, via a little town called Thames. The roads were so windy and relatively narrow in places too, we had to concentrate on every turn to make sure we didn't drive off into the sea! It was a very pretty drive though, with sea, beach and hill views along the way.
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Both Thames and Coromandel Town are small with, to me, a 'small town' America feel to the towns and houses, which are made out of wood. We kept a look out for camp tables in the charity and camping shops, but there was either none to be seen or they were very expensive.

Andrew wanted to travel down the 309 road, as apparently it was a scenic drive, but there wasn't much there! There was a waterfall we could have walked to see, but Iguassu Falls has spoilt us for waterfalls and everything seems tiny now, and there was a walk to see their native kauri tree but we weren't sure we'd know what one looked like if we saw it, so we decided to research that and try and see one later! What is interesting down here is the vegetation, that we also saw a bit of yesterday and this morning too, which is much more tropical than I had expected. It reminds me a little of Brazil.
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Once we got the end of that road we headed north to somewhere I wanted to see - Cathedral Cove. After parking the spaceship, around about 20 other campers and caravans, we walked the 45 minute track to get to the cove. The day had turned out lovely and warm, so lots of people were on the beach enjoying the weather. We had to run through the cove to get to the beach on the other side, trying to time it right so we didn't get soaked by the waves. I still got wet! The beach, cove and rocks were really beautiful and I could have stayed their all day.
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But we had to carry on! It gets dark about 8pm here so we need to be at our campsite before then to cook in the light. We drove down the eastern coast, stopping at a few beaches along the way, including hot water beach, where you can make your own hot spring pool in the sand, but it wasn't the right time of day that.
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We arrived at Wentworth River campsite in Whangamata, which is a big place with good facilities and even hot (outdoor!) showers that you put a two dollar coin in for 4 minutes of water. The woman at reception asked us whether we'd booked as their little town of 4,000 people was being taken over this weekend by another 80,000 people attending the Beach Hop - a 50s/60s festival with music, stalls and classic cars. luckily they still had space for us, but I did wonder where this town had put 80,000 people up?!

Everything was a bit easier tonight as we're starting to learn where we can put things! To think I thought we lived in a small place in London?! Here is our home and bed!
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We're already jealous of the some of the other campers here though, they seem to have every luxury...separate tents for cooking and sleeping, a gazebo for relaxing under, full size caravans with head height and a real bed. A middle aged couple next to us popped open a bottle of champagne under their canopy! What's worse, everyone has a table to eat from but us!!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees views seaside campsite campervans Comments (0)

Valparaiso - Day 48

Windy beach time

22 °C

It's really overcast in the morning here at the moment but the weather seemed to pick up by late morning yesterday so we kept to our plan of having a beach day. A quick bus ride from the promenade in Valparaiso and you're in Vina del Mar, but we got on a bus that didn't take us to the centre and ended up at one end of the beach. It was incredibly windy, we were dressed for summer and it was a long walk to the main part of the beach. After an empanada to warm us up - I wanted cheese but got cheese and prawn, and Andrew had something called Pino, which had beef, egg and olive inside - we settled down onto the beach and spent the rest of the day here...
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:56 Archived in Chile Tagged beaches cargo_ships Comments (0)

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