When visiting the Bay of Islands area we had to make at least one cruise to see at least a couple of the 144 islands. We decided to make the "Cape Brett Hole-in-the-Rock Cruise" with Fullers, leaving in the morning from Paihia for a halfday cruise.
Fullers vessel is a nice catamaran, but if you want to sit outside on the deck be sure to board early. We made a stop in Russell before leaving to the Bay. The journey continues along beautiful bays and islands, surrounded by crystal clear sea. Some of them are inhabited; must be like a fairy tale to live here. But it is also exiting to see the 'fight' between sun and clouds in the middle of these amazing scenery.
We didn't see the 'promised' dolphins, just a Gannet colony on Bird Rock.
Motukokako Island is the island with the hole in the rock. Although the waves were pretty high the skipper succeeded to manoeuvre his 'huge' boat through the 'small' hole. Further on we met schools of fishes, among them blue coloured ones (maomao fish ??). On the other side of the island we also entered a sea cave.
On the way back there is a long stop on an island called Urupukapuka. Here you can make a (extra) trip with a kind of submarine. We decide to have a lunch in the café on the island and to walk around and to enjoy the lovely scenery.
To be honest: we found this stop a kind of a tourist trap. It takes too much time, the coffee was bad and expensive.
Boarding in Paihia and Russell.
See for more info and pics my Northland page.
To get a better idea of the placement of the various towns in the Bay of Islands see: http://www.bayofislands.net/maps/
Just three km's north of the hustle and bustle of Punakaiki starts the Truman Track at a small car park along SH 6 between Greymouth and Westport.
The track did lead us through dense native bush with lots of typical New Zealand trees like rata's, silver ferns and nikau palms. Closer to the coast there are bushes and flax plants. There is a viewing point with amazing views over the coastline of the West Coast and the green hills of the mainland.
We reached the pebble stoned beach through a short stairway. The beach has some stunning limestone rocks and caves. We were lucky to see just one other person, so she could make a piture of us.
Allow 15 minutes walk one way. Be aware of a 'west coast' shower and keep an eye on the tide, because the stairway is the only way out of the beach.
Paparoa National Park on the 'wild' West Coach offers a lot of fantastic walks through typical New Zealand forest. If visiting the west coast you should make at least ONE of these walks. It is a magnificent way to feel, to smell this green landscape. Green means all varieties of green from light to dark, from moss to trees.
Perhaps the best time to visit this forest is after (or even during) a rainy day or shower. Everything smells so 'pure New Zealand', it is almost unbelievable.
We did a part of the Pororari River Track, which starts just north of the DOC Visitor Centre at the bridge over the river (SH 6). We just followed the track along the river with beautiful views on the river and the limestone rocks. It is more or less a kind of a gorge. We passed some small wooden bridges and were surrounded by all kinds of green trees and bushes. Everywhere we heard the sound of birds, but just saw one, while we had our 'bush'lunch.
We took the same track back, but there is also a possibility to make a loop via the Inland Pack Track. Best thing to do is to make some enquiries at the DOC Information Centre. Be sure you wear proper walking boots, because the track can be very muddy !!!!
Driving SH 3 from Hamilton to New Plymouth we reached Tasman Sea at Awakino. About 15 km's further along the road is the little settlement of Tongaporutu. On the southern side of the bridge over the river is Clifton Road and at the end a small car park.
With low tide it is possible to walk along the rocks to the beach to the Three Sisters (and Elephant Rock), impressive rock formations standing in the Tasman Sea, with great views to the White Cliffs and further away Mount Taranaki (if not in clouds).
We had bad luck and could not walk to the beach, but found on the north bank of the river a narrow road to a farmhouse. The owner allowed us to cross his land and after climbing fences and descending very steep stairs we had also a great view on The Three Sisters.
We found most of the natural hot springs around Taupo were all concreted in like normal swimming pools, and we wanted something a la naturale.... so we asked around and were told about a hot spring that trickles and gushes up through the sand near rocks at the edge of Lake Taupo.
You walk down from town to the Lake, and turn left toward the boat sheds, and wander down to the rocks nearby. Look around - there won't be any signs to indicate anything. We found the small gusher, and dug out a big bowl of sand with our hands, letting the freezing lake water (it was mid winter, with snow on the mountains across the lake) into our sand bowl, to mix with the boiling hot bubbling water....and had ourselves a lovely steamy sand spa, right on the edge of the lake, all to ourselves. Bliss!!
Went down the lake again the next morning and all had washed away. Noone would ever know!!
There are many vesrions as to how these boulders were created, legend states that they aree food basked which were washed ashore when a canoe shipwrecked off shore on its search for prized greenstones.
Eric von Daneken attributes the stones to space men.
Some scientists say that they were eroded from the mudstone cliffs behind and got their shape when pounded by the surf.
Others claim that they started as lime crystals, which then attracted other minerals around it to make the round shape.
Whichever is the truth, they are more impressive than they sound, and worth the trouble to find them.
Wanaka is 100 km from Queenstown, located at the southern end of Lake Wanaka.
There is a lot of trekking available here, as well as skiing in the winter, with Mt Aspiring National Park and the Cardrona Harris Mountains and Pisa Range being easily accessible.
Activities are also available on the lake - hovercraft, jet boats, fishing, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing and boat trips.
Also available is: paragliding, rock climbing, cycling, kayaking, rafting, horse riding and various aerial sightseeing tours.
Stuart Lansborough's Puzzling World
“The Leaning Tower of Wanaka” is the first you notice. The leans a remarkable fifty-three degrees and balances on one corner!
The large clock on the tower actually runs backwards. It was started on the stroke of the millennium and is ticking backwards into the 20th century!
The main building called “The Four Leaning Towers”. These four towers are all balanced at different angles.
This was the original maze in New Zealand, since then they have become very popular, so much so that New Zealand are actually exporting them!
The maze is incredibly frustrating! You have to visit the four corner towers before making your way to the centre. After finding two nad walking up and down the same passage and round and round 15 times at least, I give up. I get easily bored, and this place frustrates me.
The illusion rooms have to be seen to be believed. The first is a room full of holograms, certainly the best and most interesting holograms I have ever seen.
Next is the Hall of Following Faces, where pictures of famous faces have that annoying habit that their faces seem to follow you around the room. Very impressive! How do they do that?
Lastly, in the perspective room, people look unnaturally tall or short with the help of clever mirrors. Weird.
The floor and walls of the Tilted House has been built at an angle of 15 degrees. When you stan dup straight, it gives the impression that you are in fact leaning. It is a really strange sensation!
Do you know that you can park your caravan at a farm while travelling in NZ? My friend whom I visited last Christmas/New Year allows caravans to park overnight at her farm in Mossburn, South Island at no charge!
Trail leaves from Mount Cook Village Campsite. Appx. 60-90 minutes walk up to Hooker Lake. Fantastic view of Mount Cook and the Hooker Glacier.
Stay the night at the campsite, then get up early to beat the crowds!
This is a summer holiday place for mainly Aucklanders.
I have been holidaying here since I was very little and my family has a caravan here at the
MANGAWHAI BEACH HIDEAWAY PARK
Tent sites, powered sites & tourist cabins.
Owners: Harold, Hazel and Neal, Moir Pt Rd.
Ph: (09) 431 4251.
This is the Ocean Beach and this shot was taken on the first sunrise of the new millenium.
For more information on Mangawhai click on the links
Rhianon's Mangawhai VT page
This link includes information on Bay of Islands, Mangawhai, Whangarei and the Far North.
Morrinsville is a farming community located in the Waikato region near Hamilton.
When I was a young girl I had a farm stay here and helped milk the cows and watched them shear sheep.
Most of rural New Zealand contains farms just like this one.
The car journey from Queenstown toward Wanaka takes in the Lindis Pass. This is the most exquisite scenery i've seen in a long time. We saw it in summer and it was fabo then - I imagine in Spring it would be even more breathtaking. A MUST SEE drive.
Using Kaitaia as a home base, 90 Mile Beach is very accessible and an interesting place to visit. The beach isn't really 90 miles long, it's 60 miles or 96km. The name comes from the time it used to take a horse to get from one end to the other. Way back when, the average distance a horse could walk in one day was 30 miles. The locals didn't allow for the extra time it takes a horse to walk on sand, so when it took 3 days to get from one end to the other they figured it was 90 miles long and the name stuck!!
In calling this an off the beaten path tip one would expect the beach to be a quiet place to visit. Last time I was here I saw several different buses taking people out for a look so don't be too surprised or taken back if you hit plenty of traffic.
The beach curves its way around at the top toward Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of New Zealand and the places where Maori souls leave for their visit home to Hawaiiki. It is two stretches of beach broken up by a rocky outcropping that locals use to fish for Snapper.
If you get here at the right time of year you may also see locals digging in the sand for the prized Toheroa - part of the clam family and native to New Zealand. Very tasty!!
Craters of the Moon was the first geothermal area in New Zealand we ever visited. So it has a more or less special place in our memories. It is situated in the Wairakei Tourist Park, just a couple of km’s north of Taupo.
We followed the boardwalk clockwise and passed lots of bubbling and steaming craters, boiling mud pools, steam vents and sulphur deposits. From a look out we had a wonderful view over the this amazing area, which looks a little bit like the moon.
The path is about 3 km’s long and it takes about 45 minutes to walk around. The area was free of charge !!
I've driven the road and did the Rob Roy Glacier Hike twice. I think it's a perfect day hike if you're in the Wanaka area. I had a small campervan both times (in November) and had no problems on the road to the parking area. It is a bit dodgy though. Just watch the weather a few days ahead (not raining, then fords may be smaller) and check with the tourist center (located at the waterfront). The drive is spectacular! The valley is absolutely gorgeous and the wildlife - sheep and cows - are entertaining.
From the parking area, walk through the gates and follow the dirt trail through the sheep field. This is about a 20 minute walk to the bridge. After the bridge the hike is mild, meaning not overly strenuous or steep, and takes about 2-3hours from the bridge to the Glacier viewing area. The Rob Roy is a hanging glacier and if you've never seen one - it is definitely a sight to see! Watch out for the cheeky Keas! The birds will nab your snacks if your not watching - but they're mostly just fun to watch. At the end, the trail opens up to a valley in which you're on one side sitting on large boulders taking in the afternoon sun and you look across to the other side at the massive glacier. Every so often a ice fall will occur - typically you'll hear it before you see it. It's eerie and spectacular. Again, I would highly recommend the hike. I would do it a 3rd time if I find myself in Wanaka again. After the hike, visit one of the bar terraces and enjoy a nice beer while watching the sunset over Lake Wanaka. Enjoy!
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