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New Zealand

North Island Favourites

Top '10' of the North Island

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Since we did it for the south island, we thought we’d also do a ‘favourite things of the north island’.

In no particular order...
Favourite view = Hahei, The Coromandel (360 degree view from Mount Victoria, Wellington in second care of a photo-finish)
Favourite ‘refreshment’ = Fush, Chups and Sav on Hahei Beach at sunset
Favourite accommodation = Cathedral Cove B&B, Hahei (there’s a theme here)
Favourite trip = Rotorua Thermal Tour (mud pools, springs, volcano). Digging our own spa at Hot Water Beach a close second.
Favourite Drive = no entrants in this category for the North Island
Some things we found to be better than expected…Rotorua, Hot Water Beach
Some things we found disappointing…Bay of Islands (having seen The Coromandel), missing out on the main part of the Napier Art Deco week.

And the single best thing about both the South and North Islands of New Zealand........we're on holiday!! And we're only half way.

Posted by neilthelr 13:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

North Island Stats

for all those statisticians out there (other geeks in other words)

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1 North Island of New Zealand, 1551 kms (964 miles) travelled, 15 days (64 miles a day on average – including non-travelling days – a lot less than the South Island), 8 Hotels / Motels / Apartments /B&Bs /Friends’ houses in 16 nights, 7 different towns/cities, 8 modes of transport (car, plane, boats (3), mini-bus, kayak, cable-car, feet and a parasail), 2 sets of friends caught up with, lots of good food (some home-cooked), less Sauvignon Blanc than the south island, only a handful of insect bites (yippee!) adds up to ONE GREAT JOURNEY AROUND THE NORTH ISLAND 

Posted by neilthelr 13:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Last stop: City of the Sails

And a catch up with old friends (part 3)

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It’s hard to believe that we’re only a couple of days away from leaving New Zealand but our time here has ended well. Our second experience of the roads to Auckland were better than the first (Friday, rush hour) so we landed at Russ and Nicky’s house early evening having stopped at the Whangerei Town Basin (again) for lunch on the way back through. Russ and Nicky are only about 300m from the beach in the North Shore, which, on a sunny Friday night is slightly sickening when you consider what the average Friday night holds for us after work in the UK! We had a catch up over dinner (and a couple of drinks) with them and planned the following day. Nicky drove us in to Devonport (pretty, and it’s where the Navy is based) where we caught the ferry to Auckland City and went up the Sky Tower: it’s quite a view! If you don’t like heights (Helen) it’s advisable if you don’t look down through the glass floor sections of the viewing deck or lifts. It was a fantastic, clear day so we could see a long, long way. Nicky picked us up there and took us to Mission Bay where we stopped for lunch before heading up to Mount Eden to see the crater and a different view over the city. It was dinner and drinks with them at home and a game of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ (we got to £125k) to end the day. The final day was reserved for heading in to the city with Nicky, meeting Russ for lunch, saying our goodbyes and then just the two of us wandering around. Oh, and Neil got a haircut! We had our last supper in Viaduct Harbour, which capped off a good few days, a great North Island experience and a fantastic month in New Zealand. Finally though, we have to say thanks to Nicky and Russ for hosting (and chauffeuring) us. It was fantastic to catch up with you both and we hope to see you again soon.

Posted by neilthelr 00:36 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bridges sightseeing Comments (0)

144 Islands in one location

We didn’t see them all but drove (sailed) through one of them.

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Upon leaving Kaiwaka, we headed North via the Whangerei Town Basin for a spot of lunch in a quayside café in the sunshine (Jo – thanks for the suggestion) and then a stop at some ‘well known’ toilets (seriously – this is the second lot of NZ famous toilets we’ve come across – is this country normal?!) – photo to come. Bay of Islands was our next (and most Northern) stop. Basically it is an area of 144 Islands off the coast. Pretty nice place but did not have the ‘wow’ factor the Coromandel peninsula had. We still had a great time though. 3 nights in 1 place was good (staying in Paihia with our room directly on the sea front) and we had a number of good ‘trips’. First was a boat ride where we saw dolphins, harboured on one of the larger islands (Urupukapuka) where Captain Cook first took shelter, and went out to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ – as it sounds – and with tides in your favour it’s large enough to fit a (decent-sized) boat through. Going through this was an experience. The weather at sea had turned rough and the rain came down. We sat looking at the hole watching another boat considering the drive through. Each skipper makes their own decision and the other boat’s skipper chose not to go through but, after a few minutes, ours took the plunge and we sailed right through (although a strong grip to hold on was needed as the waves were choppy on the other side) so we can now say we’ve sailed through the middle of an island! We also spent some time in Russell (a quaint town) across the water and did a tandem parasail (i.e. the two of us together) where Helen, after getting up there, realised that she is not the best with heights (but still enjoyed the views from above despite the rain coming just at the wrong time)! We also went Kayaking down the Waitangi River, which, for those who are not hot on their NZ history, is where the Treaty of Waitangi (NZ’s founding document) was signed on 6th Feb 1840. The kayaking also meant that anything that wasn’t already wet from our dunking at the end of the parasailing got a second chance at a soaking. All in all, a nice place, some new experiences and time to chill all washed down with some good food and of course a little Sauvignon Blanc (oh how we are going to miss this good local wine)! Next stop heading back to Auckland for our final NZ destination and catching up with more old friends.

Posted by neilthelr 23:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats driving sightseeing Comments (0)

Christchurch, our thoughts are with you


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Yesterday’s earthquake in Christchurch is a little too close to home for us. Most people travel north to south when they visit New Zealand. We chose south to north so we got to Auckland at the end. Had we followed the usual route we would be about to arrive in Christchurch. Whilst we’re thankful we’re not caught up in this disaster we can’t quite believe that the wonderful city we visited only 2.5 weeks ago looks like a war zone. We have pictures of the Cathedral we took ourselves, which has now lost it’s spire. There’s a picture of a building (the Baptist Church) that we posted on this blog that we thought demonstrated the damage from the Sept 4th 2010 quake rather well: that building no longer exists. The white pillars have fallen as have the side walls and roof. Only the front and back red-brick walls still stand! The building on the opposite corner to where we stayed, which was undergoing repair, is now partially collapsed. We took pictures of the green-roofed bandstand from outside the Pyne Gould Building, which is featuring on the news a lot as it pancaked downwards and it’s where people are still trapped. There are numerous other buildings and streets we’ve seen on the news that we walked past or down that are now badly damaged or strewn with debris and can’t quite believe it. Our thoughts are with those still trapped or who have lost loved ones.

Posted by neilthelr 13:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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