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December 30th 2017
Published: November 26th 2019
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I flew into Auckland on the 30th of December. After the first night we drove to Onemana which was homebase for the trip, located on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island. We were staying at family farm house where they grow avocados and the roads are made of white crush sea shells

The beaches here are beautiful, white sand, blue ocean and surrounded by purple and white wild flowers. Life in Whangamata is simply and sweet.

New Years was spent drinking around the fire with good food and good people.

We did a day trip to Waihi where there is a big disused gold mine. On the way back there was a gypsy fair with stalls selling food, clothes, stones and other knick knacks. Back in Whangamata the town is filled with amazing cars. Hotted up new cars, vintage classic cars and motorbikes fill the streets. Which seems is so suprising in this little town, however it is famous for the Whangamata Beach Hop. It's a one day festival and thousands of people attend to see the hot rods and festivities. It was summer here and girls were walking down the street in bikinis, me a Cairns girl though was in a jumper! There are cute little shops and quaint cafes, it's all very clean and nice.

Our next day trip led us along a highway through mountains, past the green rolling hills divided into fields by huge tall straight lines of trees in place of fences, following crystal clear, rock lined rivers dotted with beautiful waterfalls. The Karangahake gorge is on the Hauraki Rail Trail. It a mountainous area with a beautiful river, filled with walkways through old train tunnels that were used in the gold mining rush. In some sections of the tunnels it is pitch black. It's a must see up there. Afterwards we drove past the famous Lemon & Paeroa, also known as L&P which is a signature NZ drink.

On our next trip we went through Tauranga to Hamurana all part of the Bay Of Plenty. Hamurana Springs is tranquil spot where swans swim around on crystal clear water that is almost glowing turquoise and emerald and that bubbles from the steam in the earth below. There is a section called the dancing springs where the sand in the bottom looks like it is dancing and there is a Redwood Grove where proud old trees have stood for many years. The streams run out into run into Lake Rotorua which was where we were staying for the night.

We didn't book any accommodation thinking surely it can't be hard to find somewhere... turns out it was! Every place, I mean every place was fully booked. I couldn't believe it. Just when we were starting to loose hope a very nice man from one hotel called his friend at another hotel and they had 1 room left. It wasn't cheap but were so lucky and so grateful to have somewhere to go!

In the morning we went to Hukafalls Jet in Taupo. This is a jet boat that goes up the Waikato River's Huka Falls and the water is warm! The waterfalls there have steam coming off them. It was so fun.

Afterwards we went to Hell's Gates. Rotorua does smell of rotten eggs (sulphure) but Hell's Gate, an active geothermal reserve and mud spa was next level. In some places it was hard to breathe!! We learned about the Māori culture, did wood carvings and walked around the pools that were all different temperatures some are warm, some are too hot to get near. We also went into the baths. Afterwards your skin is so soft and silky, but my hair did stink for days!

Back in Onemana we spent some time exploring the beaches and coastline. In Hahei there is an island that you can walk out to at low tide. We left it a bit late coming back and the waves were coming over my head as I held my back up high trying to keep it dry as we crossed back. It was a bit of a mission but totally worth it. There is also a Hot Water Beach, where you can dig in the sand and the water that comes through is warm. There is a national park look out where you can look back across the bay. The view is spectacular. But as a note to anyone going, they close the gates around 6pm so after that you are locked in. We were up there and knew that some girls had come after us. We managed to drive cross country and down a ditch to get out but knew the girls wouldn't make it. We waited for them and guided them out....good deed for the day done 😉

There are lots of cool old pubs around the Coroglen pub where we stopped for beers on our way north. Next look out was at Wyuna Bay which is on the other side of the island via the 309 road which is a windy rally drive track. We definitely pushed that hire car to it's limits! You can see oyster farms out in the ocean. We had planned on working our back down the other coast but a cyclone had come through and the roads were closed so we had to back track.

We left Onemana headed down south to Waitomo which is famous for the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. You can dive there or go by boat through the caves. It is pitch black and so silent and when you look up, it's like looking at the milky way. The ceiling of the cave is glowing in little tiny dots. It's like a magical wonderland. We stayed the night at Waitomo in a cute little hotel that looked out over sheep pastures. At the pub we had a feed and played games.

The next day I was flying back to Australia and drove back to Auckland. On the way I stopped at Hamilton which has these amazing gardens. It is split into areas where each garden is a different theme...Indian, Italian renaissance, Japanese, English, Edible, Tropical and so much more.

Flying home was bittersweet. It is a beautiful country with so much more to explore. I will definitely be back.

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