747 But BA Sucks they don't take surboards
So after our short break in England we're back out continuing our travels. Thanks to everyone for everything whilst we where back it was lovely to see and spend time with all.
On January 11th it was time to bring on New Zealand (NZ) WHOORAAA except the journey to get there DOH!!! We left England a super quick trip down the trusty M1 and round the M25 to Heathrow's brand new Terminal. After coffee and goodbye's with Mum & Dad Hamer at the airport we were officially on our way. We had a good look around Terminal 5 as it was our first and last time we would be using it because British Airways no longer carry Surfboards...What a Bummer Matty will not be able to carry on his new sport.
We took off from Heathrow around 10:30am on the 11th landed Los Angles about 12 hours later then sat around for the next 6 hours before getting our connection flight to Auckland which was 13 hours and we crossed the International date line so local time on arrival was 5am on the 13th. By the end of this we were both shattered!!! Got a taxi to our hostel
Matty, Niibby and Triggi our 6 hours in LA it was warm!!!
had to wait 2½ hours for them to open before finally getting into bed which we did not leave until the following morning.
So our 2nd day in Auckland (first in our minds) we took a walk down town round to one of the many harbours before going up the Sky tower which is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere for great views of the city. Then on to the local Bank and we opened a NZ bank account in case the exchange rates get any worse. Matty looked like a right tramp going into the bank with no shoes on because his flip flops broke 30 seconds before our appointment. So the afternoon was spent looking for a pair of flip flops. Went to a car hire place to get their rates but we're still not sure if it best to hire or buy a car. After the disaster we had with our camper 'Bev' in Oz we're keen not to make the same mistake again. Then a walk to an internet cafe to check out cars to buy before flaking out around 7pm local time and being so shattered we slept without dinner.
View from the Skytower
we were up real early went to another internet cafe to look again at cars after a couple of hours of sorting through the junk we had no cars left so decided that hiring was the way forward. We went to Auckland Museum where we learned a lot about volcanoes as Auckland is built on 48 of them!!!! We sat down in the sun for a couple of hours and made plans for the next week or so. Later in the evening we went to the cinema and watched Will Smith's new film Seven Pounds and we recommended everyone to go and see it, oh and pack tissues.
Picked up the hire car on the 16th and then went to see a Hamer family friend Precious McKenzie. If you don't know who he is check out the picture of me holding all his Olympic Gold Medals WOW never thought I would see a real gold medal. He took us for his tour of Auckland and we went up the top of two Volcanoes overlooking the city the first was “One tree hill” the second “Mount Eden” where you could look down into the crater which was left when the
View from the Skytower 2
volcano blow its top. After we left Precious we got supplies from the Warehouse (as cheap as wilko but like tesco got everything). We then drove up to Waipu about 100km north of Auckland we arrived at our hostel and when they said they didn't take card we were in trouble the nearest ATM was a ½ hour drive but have faith never underestimate the might of the US dollar which we paid in and both parties were happy.
Saturday was real good fun we went to Waipu caves with a German guy called Herbert whom we met in our hostel, we caved into pitch blackness for about an hour, wading through streams and lots of sticky mud armed only with our torches, it took about an hour scrambling over all the rocks to reach the end of cave and then another 1 ½ hours to get back as we came a different route. There were glow worms everywhere real bright. The stalagmites which were in the cave were pretty big reportly to be some of the biggest in NZ.
Then it was time for our first NZ beach afternoon and what a beach to have gone to.
A traditional Maori Hut
It is called Uretiti and was one of Nibby's favourite beaches on her previous trip to NZ with buddy Shirine. It was no longer an empty nudest beach as she remembers but really busy and full of families, but that's also cool. We chilled here all afternoon toasting our pale white skins to a rosy red and Nibby was playing in the waves on her boogie board and caught some great waves,when we left the beach we found a surf shop and Matty got himself a new surfboard so he could get in on the action. We found a great hostel with lovely views to sleep in tonight really peaceful in the middle of nowhere. Matty is really suffering with his hay fever.
Got up today and went to a waterfall about a 30 Min walk to get there, it was average to good on the waterfall scale but was a nice walk through a wood and it was keeping us out of the rain. By the time we finished our walk it finished raining and the Sun had come out, Great!! So we headed to a bay called Ocean Beach where we chilled out and Matty had his
One Tree Hill
We are with Precious McKenzie
first surf on his new surfboard!!! It was a bit colder than he expected he will wear his wetsuit next time. We came to our camp-site its our first night tenting tonight Matty cooked a great Thai green curry and rice, I hope it will be dry in our Tent.
Slept ok these role mats just don't soften the ground much and “D'oh” Pillows help, I am sure we will sleep better tomorrow (will be more tired) we took a scenic drive today to Patua North to a nice quite beach we hung out on the beach for a couple of hours Matty made a tunnel in the sand about 3metre's long and about 15cm deep. (Yeah right!) Later in the today we went and got some pillows!!!
The following day it was all about BUSHWACKA, we received a tip from Rachel & Toby that this was well worth the money and WOW how they where right!!! Nibby summed it up as one of the most challenging days of her life. It started with some nice and easy scrambles through some tightish crevices, then a short abseil all good warm-up activities for the main event the BLACK HOLE!!!
The crater from when the Volcanoe blow with Auckland in the background
We did not really know what to expect but when they gave us boiler suits to put on and take our shoes and socks off we were a bit concerned.
First we had to abseil/slipslide facing forward into a crevice Matty went down first to get all the bugs out of Nibby's way. Fat lot of good that did, there were bugs everywhere. When the 3 of us (1 guide) were in the crevice we were led along a very right section where you literally had to squize through then take your hard hat off and shimmy it through then put it back on again. Next the floor disappeared about 20metres below us and we had to straddle a 5 metre length by pushing on either side of the crevice walls. Then crawl through another tiny space in pitch black which had glow worms to light the way.
The finale beat it all as they say “What goes up must come down” well what goes down also has to go up too. When we were looking at this climb Nibby was saying “I am not going to be able to do this, no seriously I can't.” We were
Precious & Matty
Matty Holding all Precious Medals including his Olympic Gold Medals!!!!
staring up 25-30 metres with verticle walls all round us extremely slippy and with almost no hand or foot holds. Our trusty Bushwaka guide showed us how it was done by literally sticking your feet on one wall your back on the other and stretching your legs then to move up by wriggling you back up the wall and then move your feet a little higher too!!!!! Nibz went up it first and she was not a happy lady and kept swearing at me for taking her down here but with more encouragement and the guide climbing up next to her she made it to the top and once again breathed fresh air, Matty's turn next and let me tell you Nibby was definatly not making a big deal about how hard this was. By the time I reached the top I was grunting like a women tennis player with every few inches I made it up. But WOW it got the Adrenaline thumping through the system. We were asked at the top would we do another one similar if there was one Nibby's reply was Hell no. We then had a little off roading in the Bushwacka 4x4, and
Precious & The Queen
Recieving his MBE fromt he Queen!!!
that was good fun too.
Next stop Bay of Islands and we camped in Pahia the sun really had its hat on this day so we made the most of it, after a little shopping, well, browsing round the shops we took to the sea in a 2 seater Kayak. We made for a lonely island where we hung out for the afternoon doing some snorkelling, sunbathing and paddling around more islands.
The following day we went to Treaty House which is where the British entered into a contract to protect the Maori (local) people from other invaders and that was when New Zealand was born and was added to the Empire. Was real good to learn about how and why Aotearoa (the Maori name) became New Zealand. We then drove a couple of hundred km's north up towards Cape Reinga the northern most point of New Zealand and checked into a hostel.
We had a fun day exploring the cape our first stop was Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes we hired some boards and walked off into the desert without water STUPID!!! After a hefty march across the flats we came to the dunes and by
Caving Waipu Cove
Me, Nibz & Herbert
the time we hiked up through deep sand (its a bit like hiking in deep snow) to the top we were really puffing. A short breather and we were off down the hill body boarding down the dune you get some really good speed up!!! Check out the video I decided to try and stand up, you will see what happens. We had several goes up and down and found a fellow Duner to share some water with us before we were knackered and covered in sand so much in your ears and up your nostrils I was picking sand out for the rest of the day. So we drove the rest of the way north and got to Cape Reinga lighthouse which is where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and they say when sea's are rough its really dramatic here but alas today there was very little swell but it was still really clear to see where they met you could see the colour change and the currents mixing. We then drove South and we checked into a really cool farm stay which is a farm with a couple of spare rooms they rent to backpackers. We
Caving Waipu Cave
A Big Staligmitge
met the cool family and stayed up chatting around the dining table.
Next day we had a walk around the farm stroked some horses, feed the pig and walked to the top of a big hill behind the farm, before going to a Bushwacka recommended Rodeo. It was the first Rodeo we have been to and we would go again. We hung out all day with the family from the farmstay who really looked after us and told us the rules on the various games. Most of which involved angry bulls. Check out the picture of the guy holding onto the rope being dragged by the bull which by the way is at a full run and he hung on for a good 30 seconds, Madness!!! The final event was probably the most weird called a Mongolian goat race. Two teams of two people on horse back play a sort of Rugby except the ball is a Goat which was slaughtered earlier that day and left to bleed itself dry it was quite fun watching them fight over it. We then drove to Tutukaka the base for diving the Poor Knight Islands.
It was another Blue sky day
when we got on the boat, first was a little sight seeing of the world's biggest sea cave before getting to the dive sight, Nibby took to snorkelling only despite Matty's contuineos persuasion she is still a bit scared to go diving. One day!!!
Dive 1 was quite good fun had to swim though a Labyrinth of little tunnels. Nibby saw some Stingrays whilst snorkelling. Dive 2 was much better first through an underwater arch then through an over water one there was lots and lots of fish and 1 Long tail sting ray and 1 short tail too. Nibby had another snorkel here and got some great photos!!! We finished and then drove south for several hours stopping in Helensville just north of Auckland to sleep, they had a big hot tub in the hostel which we kindly obliged to use it was lovely and relaxing.
We had a long way to cover the next day so set off by 10am it took ages to get to the Coromandel Peninsula and once there we picked a gravel road to go over some mountains to get to destination it was a nice drive with good views. This
Nibby's favorite beach!!!
night whilst camping we had a visitor who kept making a racquet outside the tent and occasionally fell over our guy ropes, it was a possum.
We checked out Cathedral cove and Stingray bay and both fell asleep on the beach for an hour or so and Matty burned a little bit, we then got some pictures of the cove then onto Stingray Bay where we went for a Snorkel but the water was so murky it was no fun we are pretty sure we both still saw a stingray but in cloudy water could not tell how close we were which was a bit scary. You just can't trust those sting rays! Stopped at Hot Water beach on the way back and Matty had a good surf and Nibby read some book.
Next day we got on with the main attraction here the Hot Water on Hot Water beach. 2 hours other side of low tide the sea reveals a patch of sand that is geothermally active. 'What's that' I here you say well its where there is a resovoir of water under the earth which is close to some Magma which heats it, the resulting steam
Catching a wave
works it way to the earth crust. The result hot water at the top. So we, like all the other tourists took our hired shovel and dug a hole in the sand which filled with said hot water and we had a bath on the beach. Some of the pools were so hot you could not even dip you little toe in them. It was quite a bit weird.
And that's the beaches over with for a while next we heading inland to see the Extremely active Volcanic areas around Rotorua and Lake Taupo so until the next time.
For all you Skyper's out there we are signing on but because we are 13 hours ahead its hard to catch you, if you ever get up early and have nothing to do try signing in to see if we are online.
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