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Published: February 13th 2012
We left Russell and the Bay of Islands and headed down to Waitomo Caves, which is South West of Auckland. It was a long drive and we made it to Waitomo Top 10 Campsite by tea time. At our site we met a couple from Australia who were very friendly but would not stop talking! I think we ended up having our dinner at 8pm! The next morning we headed off to Waitomo Caves to explore the glowworm cave. The actual cave wasn't as spectacular as the Jenolan Caves but as we made our way into the darkness we started to see the cave ceiling light up with thousands of glowworms! It was pretty amazing! We made our way down to the river and were told to crouch down, the guide then shone a light on the ceiling and we saw thousands of tiny strands hanging down from the glowworms; these were their feeding line. They attract insects from the river with their light and then the insects get caught in the feeding line. Once they turn into flies (I think), they have no mouth and only live a few days, so lay lots of eggs to make more
glowworms. Next we took a boat trip along the river to see the cave lit up with glowworms; it was stunning but our camera couldn't get a good picture, so we'll have to bank that image in our memory!
After the cave trip we drove across to Rotorua to stay with Anton's Uncle David and Auntie Joan. We arrived just in time for lunch and Auntie Joan fixed us up with a nice roll and homemade date cake (I think the diet will have to wait until we come home, there is too much nice food to eat!) Uncle David arrived home from buying a new car and we all went out to the Rotorua hot springs. As soon as we got into town we could smell the lovely eggy smell coming from the sulphur that was coming out of the springs. We walked around the bubbling pools and couldn't get our heads around boiling hot water coming up from the ground. Next we went to a public hot spring to put our feet in; it was a little too hot for me! After the hot springs we went for a drive around Rotorua and were shown Rotorua Lake,
where we saw an amphibious vehicle which was just coming out of the lake and driving on land! Finally we were treated to an indian meal in a restuarant for dinner; it was delicious.
The next morning we headed off to the Redwood Forset for a walk; the trees were big but no as big as the kauri trees. We also managed to find a silver fern which are quite hard to spot. After our walk we headed to a little cafe for lunch where we were treated again! In the afternoon we went to see the blue and green lakes. They were right next to each other but one was green and one was blue; this was due to the bottom of the lakes being different materials which refelcted the different colours. The green lake was sacred but people were allowed in the blue lake. Anton and I dipped our toes in but it was far too cold for us! After dinner we went over to Joanne (David and Joan's daughter) and Thomas' house to visit them and their three daughters, Shian, Kiara and Desha. We had a lovely evening and even managed to get Del and John
on skype to see the whole family.
On Monday we went to the gondolas and went up the mountain. We could see the whole of Rotorua from the top! At the top there was lots of things to do; Anton and I went on the luge all the way to the bottom and caught the chair lift back up; it was great fun! After lunch in the restaurant, Anton went on the super fast luge but I declined; too scary for me! Next we had an ice-cream and then went home to get ready for a bbq. Anton made some lovely burgers and marinated chicken drumsticks and Joanne, Thomas and Kiara came over and also Joan's friend Bev (who also grew up in Fiji with Del); we had a lovely time.
The following day we got ready to leave Rotorua. Auntie Joan took us to the supermarket to stock up and also stocked us up with fruit and veg from the garden and me with chocolate! We left after a lunch of homemade savoury muffins and drove to Ohope on the East Coast. As the children had returned to school, we had a choice of our site and
chose one overlooking the beach; it was beautiful.
Ohope was just a rest stop and the next day we drove the East Cape down to GIsbourne. The East Cape was very beautiful and we stopped about half-way for me to drive so Anton could have a break. Before I set off he read me the riot act which I wasn't too impressed with seeing as I had 10 years of experience on him! Later along the drive we stopped at Tokomaru Bay which had turquoise waters and white sand but was rugged too; it was spectacular. We arrived in Gisbourne quite late, so had dinner and then went for a sunset walk along the beach!!
The following day we set off early and drove down to Napier. We arrived at lunch time and were able to explore the town in the afternoon. It was very badly damaged in an earthquake in 1931 and was re-built in the art-deco period. It was strange to see the art-deco buildings still looking like they did in the 1930's. We had a nice walk around and then returned to the campsite for dinner and a lazy night in front of the tv!
On Friday we headed down to Wellington and didn't realise that the international rugby 7's tournament was on, so it was extremely busy! Luckily we booked ahead for our campsite as they were pretty full when we arrived. We decided to have a restful afternoon as our campsite was about 13km out of town and we didn't want to head into the traffic and try to find a parking space. We wish we'd have known earlier to be able to plan buy a ticket for the games. The following day we went to empty our toilet and grey water tank to find that our grey water tank was leaking and the valve that we hook the grey water pipe onto was broken! Uh oh!! We recalled coming out of an off road stopping bay and hitting the bottom of the van on a ledge but didn't think it was that bad... we were wrong! Anton called Apollo who told us no-one would be able to fix it until Tuesday as it was a bank holiday weekend! We were also told that our insurance didn't cover the roof or the underside of the van! We took out the most expensive
insurance aswell, so were gutted that we'd have to pay! Anton was really worried that it would cost thousands if the whole tank had to be replaced but I explained that it was only money and we were on a holiday of a lifetime and we weren't to let it ruin our day! So, we headed into Auckland to visit the Te Papa Museum. On the way wesaw lots of people in fancy dress ready for a day at the rugby. Te Papa was amazing and very hands on. Anton and I read everything and played on everything, so ended up not being able to see the top two floors (art and scultures), as we had to catch the ferry to the South Island. We left the museum about 5pm and boarded our inter-island ferry about 6pm. We had to vacate the van and head up to upper decks. We had had a cooked lunch at the museum and made ourselves some sandwiches for the journey. The trip took about 3hrs and we made it to Picton about 9:30pm. We had booked in at a campsite that stayed open until we arrived, and there were about 5 other campervans that
drove off the ferry and into the same campsite!
Next blog...the South Island!!
Lots of love as always Kate and Anton xxxxxx
nine extra special kisses xxxxxxxxx
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