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Lake Wanaka - Day 75

And more driving...

18 °C

After the glaciers yesterday we drove to a campsite on Lake Paringa, near Haast, so we could get a head start for today.
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We had a lot of driving to do to get to the East coast of the South Island today. The rural nature of New Zealand was never more evident than when we had a cow road block on the main road! A bit like cows being herded down the M6.
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Along the way, we saw Mount Aspiring. We almost missed this fantastic view because it was side on to the road, but we stopped to fill our water tank directly across from it and was hit by this really imposing mountain.
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I've also been desperately trying to get a decent picture of one of the many birds of prey that fly around here, but they're too quick. I did manage to get a couple of ok shots today though, which I hope I will be able to edit when I get home.
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On the way towards Lake Wanaka, where we'd stop for lunch, the scenery was typical beautiful. We've seen a lot of lakes and mountains by this point!
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Lake Wanaka is a really pretty town and probably my favourite so far in New Zealand. I am sure it is even better during the ski season. We had lunch by the lake and fed the ducks, which is where we spotted this massive fish in the water!
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There was a Gypsy Fair on in the town, so we had a walk around it. I expected Gypsy Rose Lee telling fortunes and pretty painted wagons but it was just caravans, stalls selling rose quartz and had a little stage for people to perform on. One young boy sang an Of Monsters and Men song while playing the guitar, which was quite impressive and he tried really hard.
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We were about to continue our journey when Andrew spotted yet another viewpoint, this time of Mount Aspiring, which ended up taking us ages to get to and the view was nowhere near as good as early. The first picture is of the mountain, the second of me looking impressed!!
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The rest of the day was spent driving to the Glencoe Reserve campsite near Oamaru, passing more mountains and we managed to get another picture of a bird of prey eating road kill!
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:18 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes birds fish views gypsy_fair Comments (0)

Waitangi & Russell, Bay of Islands - Day 69

20 °C

We picked Mary up from her hotel in Waitangi, Bay of Islands, and took the 2 minute drive to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is the site where Maori and Europeans signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Not that long ago really. We watched the short film about the signing of the Treaty - in which, we were sure the captain of the boat yesterday featured in one of the reenactments! - and the explored the grounds. The Treaty House, where Scotsman James Busby and his family lived, the beautifully carved Maori Meeting House, and one of biggest Maori war canoes in New Zealand.
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Afterwards we drove to Kerikeri to see New Zealand's oldest stone building, The Stone Store, which was built between 1832-1836. Andrew said he has jeans older than that! I guess were spoilt for old buildings in England. It's a cute little building though in a pretty park setting, the perfect place for a picnic.
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But we were moving on, for a quick toilet break in Kawakawa. There's a pun in there, because this place is home to the famous (apparently, we just knew about them as Andrew's brother had been) public toilets designed by an artist called Frederick Hundertwasser. They were really different, for toilets, and I liked the glass bottle and glass tile windows, but as we have seen the flower toilets at Barton Grange garden centre near Garstang, Lancashire, I think I was expecting something more flamboyant.
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Our final destination for the day was Russell. We drove to Opua and got the car ferry across. Mary and I didn't even realise we were on the ferry yet when we started moving, it was so small!
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The short film at the Treaty Grounds this morning had told us that Russell had been a rough and ready port for sailors and fishermen back in the day, but now it's a beautiful seaside town. We walked down the waterfront and chose to have fish and chips at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand's oldest pub. Oh and some cold beer too, of course.
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Fed and watered, we walked to New Zealand's oldest church, Christ Church. The guide book said it had gun shot holes in it from a war in the 1800s, so Andrew was really disappointed when he couldn't see any.
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And finally we drove up to Flagstaff Hill to see panoramic views of the Bay of Islands.
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We'd had a lovely day but now we had a long drive ahead of us. It's 1st April and we have to be in Wellington for 1pm on the 3rd, which is at least 11 hours drive, as we wanted to have a good amount of time on the South Island. After leaving Mary at her hotel, to see her in another week or so, we drove for about 3/4 hours until we got south of Auckland. I don't even know what to say about the holiday park we stayed on. I don't think anyone was having a holiday there. There were messy drunk girls in the toilets trying to open a bottle of alchopop with their teeth. I don't think I need to say anymore...

Posted by staceywaugh 05:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged art boats views maori Comments (0)

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)

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)

Mount Ruapehu to Arohena - Day 63

Cloudy Mount Doom and a crystal clear lake

20 °C

This morning we drove up two mountain roads in the Tongariro National Park for some good views and to see Mount Ruapheu better. The first went straight up Mount Ruapehu to a closed ski resort, which looks really odd in the off season but I bet is beautiful in the snow. There was no view of the top of though because if the cloud.
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The next was up to another ski resort through Whakapapa village (which is funny, as 'wh' in Moari is sometimes pronounced as an f), and the view from there was lovely. Mount Ruapheu's peak was still covered in cloud though :(
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We had lunch in a car park at the bottom of the road, we made soup and decided there and then making hot food from the tiny camper was too much effort at lunch. After we took a trail to see another waterfall in the National Park, which was pretty with crystal clear waters again.
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Back in the car again, we drove a few hours to a DOC campsite as close to Waitomo Caves as possible in a place called Arohena. We were the only ones there, and it stayed that way all night. It was lovely and warm, so we got changed and Andrew had a swim in a lake while I chased butterflies (new obsession of mine) and I got these pics.
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Andrew making us dinner at the lake
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At the site they had brick BBQs so Andrew collected wood and when it went dark, made our first camp fire. We played cards by firelight and used head torches when it got difficult to see!
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Posted by staceywaugh 01:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes views butterflies bees camp_fire Comments (0)

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