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New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 9 June 2012 | Views [628]

Matt's 44th birthday with Paul Smith

Matt's 44th birthday with Paul Smith

Arrive in New Zealand on the 16th April.  We have two friends who live here, Charlotte and her new man Clayton, and my brothers friend Paul, who I have known for some...28 years! so some 'normal' living, for a while, at least!

We have decided we would travel the North Island only, this time. We come here 7 years ago, (for my 40th!) but we mainly travelled the South Island. As it is now autumn/winter, the south island is a definate no-no! (Far too cold).

We buy a camper van the first week we are here. We call her Billie, (unfortunately, Charlottes cat, Billie, got killed the week we were here!), it has everything we need to start travelling right away.  We have decided to travel the coast mainly, other than the odd detour to catch up with our neighbour, James from Shirlett, who is here and obviously, we can not miss out the largest lake the the southern hemishere, Lake Taupo and just a short drive from there Lake Rotorua.

We purchase Billie on the friday. It's Matts birthday on Saturday and I have arranged for Paul to take him dirt-biking, it's a total surprise and they have a great day.  It is my first day on my own since we left in Feb, I too, have a great day!!

We start our travels on Monday, we meet up with James on day two and spend a couple of nights with him on the farm he is helping out on.  We are made to feel very welcome by Christine, Wayne and their daughter Sam.

The scenery is beautiful- lush green, rolling hillsides. We first make our way inland and visit Hukka Falls, it's not a high waterfall, but apparently 200,000 litres of water pass through every second! We do a walk here up river and come to a park at the top of the track.  There are some people bathing on the side of the river, are they crazy?! No. They are lying in the river where thermal water comes in to it. We make a mental note, we are 'freedom' camping tonight, this will be our shower in the morning! It was amazing! It was so hot in one part, we had to move!

We do lots of freedom camping, our first night being the most special. We were on the edge of this most beautiful lake, we were the only people there. Okay, it has 'long-drop' toilets and nothing else, but who cares, it's free and very scenic!

We do some nice walks, one of which is in a Redwood forest, you go quite high and when you get to the top, you overlook all the thermal pools and geysers. Steam raising from the ground for miles around, this area.

We make our way to the coast now that we have done the lakes.

We decide to start on the east coast and head south.

To summarise:- the scenery is stunning and the coast line rugged in places.  We see black sand beaches and beaches as white as snow! Beaches with sooo much driftwood, it's difficult to walk along. We also attempt to drive on 90 mile beach (which is actullay on 67 miles long!).

We walk the longest wharf in NZ(660 mts) and the southern hemisheres longest footbridge.

We see the worlds largest wooden structure  it is now a law school and we also visit the oldest wooden catholic cathedral (well, it is Sunday) these are both in the capital, Wellington.

We visit the 'John O'Groats' of NZ, the most northerly point, Cape Reinga and stay on some amazing seafront campsites. 

The Bay of Islands was the highlight for us. It's made up of 144 islands and the area is so pretty. This is where we went on a boat trip, to see dolphins. We get on at a really nice town called Russell, it has the oldest church and the oldest working petrol station in NZ.

On arrival to the dock, we are asked if we could pass on the post-bag to a member of staff on the boat, we will drop it off at one of the islands! 

We see so many dolphins, even the staff are excited! It really was unbelievable. A lot of them have babies with them. They swim with the boat for ages. This was a really special day!

I have forgot to mention the glow-worms we saw on a footpath one evening, thousands of the things! Also, the world award winning bridge we saw.

My time is about run out on this story, but we have had very mixed weather here, rain, hail, thunder and 20 + degrees of sunshine, but on the whole we have had an amazing experience in Billie! 

Australia here we come!

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