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Published: February 12th 2012
We've been struggling to find the time to write our blogs...this travelling isn't relaxing!!!
We got our campervan on Sunday 22nd January and were so surprised at the size of it...we were going to be in luxury for 5 weeks! It had a toilet and shower, microwave and even a tv with a dvd player! It is 7.1m long, so I thought I'd leave the driving to Anton after the moped incident!
After packing up the van, we headed north of Auckland up the west coast to a place called Waipoua Forest. It was 7:30pm by the time we arrived at a government camping ground (cheap sites with few facilities) and it was already full. Apparently you have to arrive quite early to get a spot. Luckily there was a campsite down the road that belonged to the Top 10 group and we were able to get a powered site for the night. The campsite was lovely and had lots of facilities, including kitchens for people in tents; although we had our own little kitchen. We had left over curry and banana cake, courtesy of Liz, for our tea. That night it was freezing and we ended
up cuddling each other for warmth! In the morning we decided to join the Top 10 Club as this would give us 10% of all Top 10 sites, money off attractions and 10% off our North to South Island ferry; so would be worth it. That day we headed into the Waipoua Forest to visit the tallest Kauri tree in the world...The Tanae Mahuta. We weren't expecting much but this tree did blow us away, as it was just beyond the size of any tree we had ever seen. Next we went to visit the widest Kauri tree, Te MAtua Ngakere; Anton looked like a dot stood next to it, followed by the four sisters, which was 4 Kauri trees fused together at the base. Lastly we went to see the 7th largest Kauri tree, Yakas, and this one was good because we were able to touch it and try to wrap our arms around it!
After the Waipoua Forest we drove to a place called Whatuwhiwhi and stayed in another Top 10 site. It was another cold night, so cold that I slept in leggings and a hoodie and Anton slept in his tracksuit bottoms and hoodie, and
we still had to cuddle for warmth! From there we booked a tour to take us to the tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga, and also for a drive along the 90 mile beach (we weren't allowed to take our campervan on the sand). Our tour took place on a massive four wheel drive bus called a Dune Buggy. First stop was an old gum digging site where people used to dig holes in the ground to find the gum that came from the Kauri trees when they shed their branches. It was a a lucrative business up until the 1960's, as the gum was used to make varnishes and adhesives but it slowly declined as other, cheaper substances were found. On the same site, they had unearthed a 45,000 year old Kaori forest that they believe had been flatened by a natural disaster. They were able to carbon-date some of the forest as it had been preserved perfectly in peat. There was even a whole tree there that was now worth millions as it was so preserved. Anton and I thought about moving here and just digging for ancient Kaori forests to make our millions! Next stop was
Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. You could actually see where the two seas met with swirling waves. The Maori's believe the mixing of the waters signifies life and the shapes inspire a lot of their cultural tatooing. We walked to the lighthouse which was the northern most point of the North Island and then we walked up a massive hill to look at the view. From the hill we could see a sacred hill, which is where the Maori spirits leave the Island to go back to their homeland. They are meant to go to the top of the hill and look back on their loved ones and cry; thus there is a lake at the bottom of the hill, which signifies their tears. From the hill they descend down onto the rocks and climb onto a tree on the rocks, and then they go into to the ocean and swim back to their homeland (somewhere North WEst of New Zealand but now covered by water - apparantly). After lunch we drove along the ninety mile beach, which was a bit like Fraser Island and then we stopped at a massive sand dune to do
some body boarding! Anton went first and left me with the camera; the hill was so steep that people were stopping every few steps to catch their breath. Anton, being competitive, was the first one up the hill and came down first. It looked scary but he loved it. Next, I went up the hill and probably took 10mins just to get to the top! I got on the board and screamed all the way down; great fun though! Anton went again but I couldn't face the hill again! We then drove the rest of the 90mile beach and lastly stopped at a Kauri shop, where we bought a 45,000 year old wine bottle holder! It was a great day.
The next day we drove to Russell and decided to take the scenic route, rather than the quick ferry! Bad mistake, the scenic route consisted of the longest, windiest, unsurfaced road that we had ever been on. The van couldn't go that fast, and rattled around like crazy - I was glad Anton was driving! We made it to Russell and had to wait for a mechanic to come and look at our hob, as the main gas burner
wouldn't stay on. THe mechanic came and guess what?...The bloody thing worked! That afternoon we went for a walk down to the harbour to collect our tickets for our Bay of Islands trip the next day. The area and the houses were was so pretty that I almost thought I could live there (just for a split second!) That night we sat outside our van and watched the beautiful sunset over the bay - heaven!
On Thursday we were up early and headed down to the harbour for our trip to the Bay of Islands. We took a trip that followed the original trip made by the boats to collect cream from all the islands. Nowadays the boat just delivers mail and groceries. The trip was really good and we even saw a pod of dolphins who swam right up to the boat. Some people had to paid to swim with them but this particular pod was not interested in having humans in the water with them and just swam away. We sailed past lots of the islands and through the hole in the rock and then stopped at an Island called Okahu for lunch. Anton went in the
sea but didn't stay in too long as it was so cold! They did boom netting after lunch, where they hang a net down from the side of the boat, put people inside it and power along. Lots of the children did it but it looked far too cold for us! Our skipper, BIlly, told us a lot about the islands and the sea life; we had such a good day. We had an early night that night as we were driving 6hrs the next day to Waitomo, which is South West of Auckland.
We are both loving New Zealand and wish we had more time here!
Hope you are all well.
Lots of love Kate and Anton xxxxx
NIne extra kisses for our special people xxxxxxxxx
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