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March 10th 2006
Published: April 1st 2006
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Bay of IslandBay of IslandBay of Island

Swimiming with dolphins
1st of February 2006 - Auckland

After another 20+ hour flight we find ourselves back in New Zealand, but this time with a couple of honeymooners! Once again we were met by Steve and Lynn who took us to our hostel, the rest of the evening was took up by drinks and catching up on wedding talk and life in New Zealand before a relativley early night.

The next day we left Sarah and Gareth to go off touring Auckland while we went Car shopping at the Backpackers Car Market where we picked up a 1990 Toyoto Corona for $2,000. After a couple of hours sorting everything out for the car we were fully mobile again! The car has automatic everything its great, its even got air con!

Andy, Lynn, Steve and I met Sarah and Gareth at the hostel the same afternoon to take them to the Langham five star hotel for a couple of days for their wedding present from us all. They thought we were taking them to a little motel near Albany and were pleasantly suprised. With them all checked in and a bottle of champagne later we all headed down to the trendy harbour front area of the viaduct for dinner and only a short night of celebrations due to jet lag.

Having not spent much time sight seeing in Auckland before we returned to the UK we decided to join the honeymooners on a few sight seeing tours.

Not wanting to do things by halves we signed up for the vertigo experience at the auckland Skytower. At 328m the skytower is the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. The vertigo experience is where you are taken to the highest level accessable from the inside of the tower. The tour is led by a guy who was the chief enginer in the building of the tower. Now retired from the construction industry he imparts his knowledge of the tower to tourists. We were togged out in Orange jump suits and harnesses and given an introduction on how to use our safety mechanisms on our harness.

We first of all went up in the lift to the observation deck and then one platform higher to the sky deck, both of which are enclosed in glass but give fantastic views across auckland. We were then takem to a little door and hatch which gives access to the service ladders up inside the top part of the sytower. We had to climb up the ladders inside the tower until we got to the crows nest 80m above the observation deck where we ventured outside after being clipped onto the outside safety rail. From the crows nest it was an amazing view but enhanced by the sounds of the city. On the observation deck you can see the city but the sounds are only of the airconditioning and the other toutists chattering, laughing and gasping when one of the sky jumpers leave the platform just below the observation deck. However from the crows nest you can hear the sounds of the city buzzing about its business about 300m below you.

After returning to Terra ferma it was our turn for a spot of luxury thanks to Richard, Andys cousin and a wedding present of a two night stay at the Langham hotel. It was great to have a big posh room and kingsize bed and sky tv.

Saturday came along and with it an early start to go out fishing with Steve and Lynn on their boat "Just Lucky". We launched from
The BoatThe BoatThe Boat

Steve's pride and joy!
Takapuna beach and headed out towards the islands. After dropping anchor and baiting up it didnt take long for the girls to show the boys how to do it with me and Sarah landing the two biggest snapper of the day (Sarah in 1st place!). We all had a great day caught lots of fish, had a few beers in the sun and rounded off the day by a dip in the sea. We got back exhausted and after a meal of our catch we headed back to the centre of Auckland alegedly for a nap before going up the skytower to get a night view of the city. However after getting in bed for a nap at 7pm we awoke at 6am the next day!

Sarah and Gareth set off on an early start South down to Rotorua. However we were taking advantage of our pressie from Richard which allowed us a late checkout, so after hitting the all you want to eat buffet breakfast hard we headed up to the pool area. We lounged in the sauna, jaccuzzi and pool on the roof top terrace, then after a long lazy morning headed south to join Sarah and Gareth.

It is true what the guide books tell you, you sure do smell Rotorua before you see it. The smell of sulphur (rotten eggs) just hangs in the air every where you go.

6th February 2006 - Rotorua
We spent the day visiting Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland which is 30km from Rotorua. This place really does make you see what lies beneath (and on top of) the earths crust around here and realise how volcanicly active this place is. Wai-O-Tapu is a vast expanse of multi coloured pools, rocks and bubbling mud pools. You walk around a series of small lakes and 'attractions' all with interesting or sinister names like The Devils Hole, The Devils ink pots and the champage pools, not all of which live upto their names. The water in the different pools and lakes have taken on coloured tints from the minerals disolved in them, yellow from sulphur, purple from manganese, green from arsenic. There are also bubbling black mud pools and the Champagne pool which is shown in the pics, this is a bubbling pool with green water and a dark orange shelf around the edge of the pool which steams .

1st Catch of the day1st Catch of the day1st Catch of the day

Which was then used for bait!!
a while though we were fully thermalled out, you can only see so many bubbling holes of mud and coloured pools in a day! So we headed back to camp where Sarah & Gareth came to join us for dinner. On the camp site they had a natural thermal steam cooker which looked like some minature ancient space rocket. You put your dinner in the steaming baskets and put it into the cooker which is a vent of the natural steam from under the ground. The food cooked fantastically and we were very suprised that there was no sulphur taint when you ate it as the steam was definately a bit smelly from the sulphur.

Before heading off from Rotorua the next day we called in to Rainbow Springs where we went on the Kiwi encounter tour where we saw a cute and rather large 1 day old baby kiwi.

The kiwi is a flightless bird which is the national symbol of NZ. I do feel sorry for the female kiwi though as their eggs are huge compared to their body size. Their egg compared to body size is the equivalent of a human woman giving birth to

How does she manage to kick my ass every time we go fishing, it does nothing for the male pride in being the hunter and provider for the family!!
a 36lb baby. Kiwis are burrowing, have loose hair like feathers and has more mammalian features than any other bird. Due to the pressures of man and introduced mammalian predators the kiwis are now endangered and the population is declining in size every 10 years. The Kiwi could be close to extinction by 2015.

Kiwi Encounter is a working hatchery & nursery and is part of a kiwi recovery programme called operation nest egg. Department of conservation workers collect laid eggs from the nests of Kiwis, hatch and nurture them at Kiwi encounter and then relese them back to where they were collected from. The success rate for survival of young kiwi released back into the wild as part of the programme is 60% compared to just 5% for those left in the wild without human intervention.

After the Kiwi encounter we headed on a longish drive down to Ongaonga to see where we were going ot be living for a while and also for me to have an interview at the pack house for a QA position.

The orchard is in the middle of a vast farming area but it looks like there are a couple of little towns nearby so should be OK. As no one else had yet moved in we bagged the best caravan for when we return to start picking.

The journey down for the interview was a bit of a waste of time really, I could have done the job no probs, but for the money they were paying I decided to stay and pick apples on the orchard as the extra driving I would have to do each day would cancel out the higher wage rate.

8th February 2006 - Whangarei (Pronounced Fangarei)
With caravan sorted and Dianne at the orchard sorting all our work things out like banks and tax things we headed off back up north for a while before we had to come back for the start of the picking season at the end of the month.

We basically spent the whole day driving back up from ongaonga which is 50km south of Hastings in Southern Hawkes bay to Whangarei which is North of Auckland.

We spent the next day driving around the beautiful coast around Whangarei and Breamsbay, checking out Whangarei Falls and the City Basin harbour in Whangarei.

10/02/06 Whangarei
Champagne Pool - RotoruaChampagne Pool - RotoruaChampagne Pool - Rotorua

Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
to Bay of Islands
After getting the brake pads done on our car we headed further North up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. We found a lovely little camp site 4km out of Pahia looking over Haruru Falls.

We spent the next day looking around the Waitangi treaty grounds. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a national trust estate which comprises of 506 hectares and includes the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed on 6th February 1840. After a number of years under private ownership Lord & Lady Bledisloe purchased the estate in 1932 and gave it in trust to the people of New Zealand.

In the late 18th century European explorers Cook and Du Fresne visited the Bay of Islands and from this point onwards settlers and traiders came to the area. By 1830 the Bay of Islands was crowded with visiting ships. In 1833 James Busby was sent by the British Government to be a mediator between the British traiders and the Maori people. In 1839 a party of French sailors set out on a mission to settle New Zealand and make it a French colony and take over all of the
Thermal Green PoolThermal Green PoolThermal Green Pool

Wai-o-Tapu thermal wonderland - Rotorua
land for themselves. The Maori people were concerned for the rights of their land and asked for help from Busby, in response to this in January 1840 Captain William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands to make a treaty with the Maori chiefs on behalf of the British Governemnt. On the 6th of February 1840 43 Maori chiefs signed the treaty in front of the residency (now the treaty house) at Waitangi. By September of the same year 500 chiefs from all over the country had signed the treaty. On 21st May 1840 British sovereignty was declared over the whole country. The agreement was made between the two peoples to live and work together as one nation and to guarantee the rights of both Maori and non-maori citizens. The key point for the Mauri cheifs was that their land rights would be retained.

After the historical tour the previous day it was time for us to return back to a nature based activity. We boarded a catermeran sailing boat with Carino Cruises and set off on a sailing and dolphin watching trip around the bay of islands. The day was fantastic, the weather was great the water
Thermal OvenThermal OvenThermal Oven

Sue cooking dinner on a natural thermal steam oven, suprisingly it didn't have a sulphur taste to it.
was calm and there were loads of dolphins.

We donned snorkells and slithered off the back of the boat into the rather fresh water singing into our snorkells as instructed. It wasnt long until a group of 4 dolphins came to investigate what was going on. The dolphins were very curious and it was exciting but also a little scary, the water visibility wasnt that great, so you suddenly saw these massive creatures coming out of no where, close up to you at speed and then swimming off. The dolphins we swam with were common dolphins that can grow up to a size of 2.4m in length. We swam with the dolphins for about 40 minutes before they got bored of us and swam off. As we got out of the water we saw that they had joined a larger pod of bottlenose dolphins, these are bigger and can grow upto 3.5m in length. Luckily we swam with the common dolphins before they joined the larger pod as the larger pod contained some juveniles, which under Department of Conservation Dolphin Regulations you are not allowed to swim with a pod containing juveniles.

We stopped in a beautiful bay and had an hour to do as we pleased before boarding the boat again for a BBQ and then sailing back to Paihia

14/02/06 - Kaitaia
After a chilled previous day consisting of a short drive north and relaxing at the hostel we set off on a coach tour of ninety mile beach, which is actually only 60 miles long! We were picked up by our coach with our guide who had a crusty the clown laugh at 8am. First stop was the ancient Kauri Kingdom which is a shop displaying furniture and wood items made from kauri wood thought to be thousands of years old extracted from local swamps. We continued on and after a couple of stops on the East coast of the Peninsular to see bays and silica sands we arrived at Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua). In Maori belief Reinga is the departing place of the spirits of the recently deceased. Cape Reinga is the meeting place of the Tasman sea and the Pacific Ocean, it is also the site of the Northern most post office in NZ! We stopped at the beautiful, if a little busy Tapotupotu Bay for lunch before heading back down the west coast.

We drove down te Paki quick sand stream which leads to 90 mile beach but before we got to the beach we stopped at the sand dunes for a spot of sand tobogganing. The dunes werent as big as the ones we went sandboarding on in Peru but it was still good fun, and also alot safer than sandboarding. We continued on in the bus and joined 90 mile beach which is officially a higway under New Zealand laws, although one thing to note is that your car insurance is invalid for driving on beach highways unless you pay a premium. The beach was long and windswept being lashed by the incoming tide. Stuck in the sand was a Merc that had been trapped by the sand, they apparently hit one of the fresh water streams that run onto the beach at spped which broke an axle and being too close to the high tide for recovery, it got swallowed up by the sea and sand. It only had 34,000km on the clock and had been stuck there just a couple of weeks when we saw it. It was wrecked as can be seen from the pics.

The Fifteenth of Feb brought with it our return back down South via the West Coast of Northlands. The roads were very windy and so we made slow progress. On the way down we stopped at Waipoua Sancturay a Kauri forest South of Hokianga Harbour. The Sanctuary is 20km of mature Kauri forest and was designated a sancturay in 1952 to protect the remaining Kauri Trees. Northland, Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula were once covered in mixed forest dominated by mighty Kauri trees. The Kauri tree is the worlds second largest tree after the californian sequoias. The Kauri is a type of pine that ibky grows in NZ though it also used to grow in Auslralia & South east Asia. Individual trees can live upto 2000yrs reaching 50m in height and 20m in girth. Kauri produces a beautiful knotless hardwood this property hastened its demise and spawned the industries that dominated NZis economy in the latter half of the 19th century. By the early 20th century European settlers had felled nearly all of the Kauri, the only extensive pockets now remain in the Waipoua and Trounson Kauri forests. Before the arrival of the european settlers the Maori used

Waitangi Treaty Ground
the Kauir sparingly and for major projects such as large war canoes. We went to see the 1200yr old Tane Mahuta "God of Forest" wchich is 6m wide and rises to 18m to its lowest branches.

We continued on down the west coast and had dinner at the Funky Fish at Baileys beach, these were the best fish and chips I have ever had they were great. We arrived in Leigh near Goat Island Marine reserve just before dark at a lovely campsite on a hill over looking the bay and Gaot Island.

The next morning we went snorkelling at Goat Island Marine reserve. The reserve was set up in 1975 as NZ's first Marine reserve. Almost 3 angling and shellfishing free decades have resulted in thriving undersea life and we saw lots of fish including snapper and a ray.

The 17th of February saw us returning to Auckland and we picked Sarah and Gareth up from the Airport as they had left their hire car in the South island. We had a lovely meal out thogether in Takapuna at a place called Aubergine and rounded the night off with some drinks at the holiday park before bed.

It was an early start the next day to drop Sarah & Gareth at airport, it was a little sad and there were a few tears from me as it may be the last time in a good while that I get to see Sarah & Gareth.

After a nap to recover from the late night and early morning we drove to Coromandel town having stopped at a rather weak Gold mine tour at Thames and Cheese Factory on the way. We stayed at a lovely little hostel where we camped in their Orchard. The owners were from near Worksop which was a little odd.

The next day we went on the Driving Creek Railway, this is one of the higlights in the lonely planet, but I think if you are either over 10 or not a train fanatic I would give it a miss. The scenery was nice but you copuld get that without going on the train. It is a purpose built tourist attraction and nothing that special. Continuing on we drove to Hahei, and went to hot water beach where thermal springs come out of the sand, unfortuantely due to a high low
Cape ReginaCape ReginaCape Regina

Most northern mainland point in New Zealand
tide we felt the hot water (which was scalding hot) but couldnt dig a hole to sit in as big waves kept coming in and washing you into the rocks if you werent carefull. Even though the tide was too high the beach was busy with crowds of people armed with spades, unfortunately we were all dissapointed.

20/02/06 Got up early to try and go kayking but due to big swell all trips cancelled. Walked to Gemstone Bay & Cathedral Cove.

21/02/03 Drove to Whatatane via a quick walk in Karangahake Gorge and visit to Kiwi 360 in Te Puke.

22/02/06 Went on flight in a little cesna over White Island. White Island was named by captain cook for its permanent shroud of mist or steam. The island expells small clouds of gas, steam and ash from its crater lake 60m below sea level. Yellow and white crystal deposits can be seen on the island which is an abubdant source of sulphur. Sulphur used to be mined on the island for use in fertilizer manufacture, hower it was plagued by eruptions and landslides as one would probably expect on an active volcano. Mining has since been stopped and the island is now home to a massive bird colony of gannets and petrels. However the Island is still privately owned. It seems strange how someone comes to own their own private volcano!
Most active marine volcano in NZ.

23/02/06 Lazy morning then drove to Orchard as picking started early

24/02/06 Started picking

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 31


Oh Lord won't you by me a Mercedes Benz!!Oh Lord won't you by me a Mercedes Benz!!
Oh Lord won't you by me a Mercedes Benz!!

This Merc with only 34,000 Km on the clock got stuck on nintey mile beech, which is an official highway in New Zealand, tho insurance company's very rarley cover for this trip.

1st April 2006

Is there a test on this afterwards?
1st April 2006

I am in on OOHS noise so this has really cheered me up on this rather chilly night. Thank you that has brought me lots of smiles xxxx
4th April 2006

Hi you two, what a fantastic place NZ looks! Glad you all had such a great time with Sarah and Gareth, enjoy the apple picking, pity you can't send us some samples! Take care, look forward to your next blog. C x

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