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Published: July 18th 2006
Me in the back
After picking up the van we headed south, although not towards Taupo as the roads had only just been re opened after heavy rain there. The first place we stopped to get some food was a little motor way place about an hour down the road. While I reminded Thommo that the van would shift forwards slightly (automatic van you see) his foot slipped onto the accelerator and we hopped forwards into a bush!! It was extremely funny, we had decided not to reduce the excess on the insurance for the van but instead choose to pay to insure the windscreen and tires. Quite lucky really as the venture into the bush scratched the windscreen!
Once on the road again we headed towards Raglan, a small surfer town (with one of the best breaks we were informed) just on the coast across from Hamilton. We took the short walk across the foot bridge into the town centre and stocked up on the essentials, food and painkillers! This place is beautiful but was not busy in the slightest. We have come to terms with the fact that some places will be very quiet during the winter months. The camp site is
right on a large sand spit and was very clean and well equipped. We experienced our first night in the van, quite comfortable and spacious considering its size (2 berth hi top) and great to be able to watch a film in bed. The only thing was it was actually quite cold, I am sure the rental company gives out the same duvet in all seasons!
The following morning we packed up and headed to Waitomo. This was not a great distance away but we had heard the caves there were defiantly worth a visit. On leaving Raglan we spotted a sign for Bridal Vail Falls, so we travelled a few kilometres off the main road to take in the views. We were so glad we did this. We parked up and took the short walk off the road to the water falls. The views were great from the top but we saw there was a track that took you all the way down to the base. My back was painful again but with Thommo’s help we managed to make it to the bottom. This was spectacular! I have never been this close to a large water fall before,
Bridal Veil Falls
Thommo looking good
the sound of the water was really loud and the pool at the base was beautiful. It really was worth the struggle to get down there and back up. After taking it all in and getting some snap’s we got back on the road again.
We arrived at Waitomo around dinner time. We checked in to the holiday camp park right opposite the few shops and the museum that make up the centre of Waitomo. This camp site was amazing, they helped us book our trip for the next day, the facilities are clean and they even had a free outdoor spa. Due to the coldness of the previous night we hired a spare duvet for the night and also hired a DVD to watch before bed. The area was very scenic with rolling hills, sharp inclines and lots of trees. The next day we went on our trip to some of the many caves that have made Waitomo world famous. This black water rafting trip was awesome. It basically involves some walking, crawling, toobing and a small amount of climbing. There is an option to abseil into the caves but this was out of our price range so
we just walked into them instead. We were really lucky that there was only three of us on this trip and two guides. This meant that we had more time to explore the caves as there was no waiting around for a large group to get everything done. We also got loads of information as there was two guides points of view. The best part for me was jumping backwards off a water fall in the caves. We ventured down one of the small escape tunnels which meant we got to jump off the water fall twice! We have heard other’s say they didn’t think it was worth the money but I think our journey through the caves was defiantly worth every cent we paid. This trip killed two birds with one stone as there are glow worms in these caves as well. There is another set of caves famed for a larger number of them but this would have just been another expense so we were pleased we saw them on the trip.
The following day we woke up to a large frost and after packing up we went to the museum of caves (free entry is given
with the black water rafting adventure). This is a small museum but explains the cave systems well and has lots of old photos to look at (I love looking at old photos!). It also details the digging out and early adventures in the caves. We also spent a while crawling around on the fall as they have some exhibits were you can experience the small spaces that are evident while caving. After this we went on a lovely walk which we had spotted while exiting the caves the previous day. Then it was back in the van and on to the next destination, Stratford.
This place is a small gateway to the stunning area know as The Mt Egmont/Taranaki National Park. We stayed a couple of nights at an eccentric camp site which had good faculties and was in a excellent location for exploring the park. On our way we had stopped at a Warehouse again to pick up a few warm blankets, so the nights were not quite so cold! During our time here we went on a few short walks. On one of them we visited Dawson falls. This was such a good short walk as the
Black Water Rafting
The great company we went with
views of the falls were so impressive. You can take a short ascent to the base of the falls and if you were crazy enough you could even venture under the falls! Of course it being winter and so cold neither of us did this, although we did get a bit wet posing for photos close to the plunge pools! We were really luck with the weather that day and had uninterrupted views of Mt Taranaki! Although the could did start to come in towards the end of the day, so we got in our little van and drove to the other side to look at the ski fields and a amazing view of the coast! These views were awe inspiring and we were so glad we choose to come this way down the Island instead of straight through the middle.
The next day we drove down Highway 45, commonly referred to as the surf highway. Again we were so lucky with the weather, we had more uninterrupted views of the mountain the whole way round! We stopped for lunch near the coast to take it all in. I have never been near a massive mountain and so close
All Geared up
The group, minus one guide.
to the coast before. Our drive finally took us to a place called Lower Hut, just outside Wellington. We stayed here for the night as we had to get the ferry across to the South Island in the morning. We did not venture into Wellington as we are planning on doing this on the return journey. Thommo got up really early to watch England get knocked out of the cup. I didn’t feel to well so I stayed in bed, which am glad I did now as would have only been more disappointed if had seen it with my own eyes!
We are both enjoying having our own freedom with the van and have managed to get used to moving everything around to find things!
Onwards to the South Island……and even colder weather!
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