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One Year of Travel - New Zealand - October/November 2008

Updated on November 11, 2019

Whitianga

Whitanga Marina from the top of a Maori Pa site
Whitanga Marina from the top of a Maori Pa site
Looking out across Mercury bay in Whitianga
Looking out across Mercury bay in Whitianga

The North Island

 

After a few days relaxing on the beaches of Sydney’s, Bondi and Manly, we headed to New Zealand firstly to stay with relatives in Whitianga. We have spent a lot of our time here going to local beaches, looking around the town etc and spending time with family.

We have travelled around the Coromandel area stopping at various view points and have also been up on driving creek railway to a spectacular view at the top. It has a pottery at the base of it that local artists make their creations.

We have had many walks including going up to Captain Cooks point (where he did some navigation things using the planet mercury to pin point his position on the earth and was so accurate that even today they are using the same points) and to Cathedral cove (where a part of 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' was filmed).

 

The relatives work in a local fish factory so we went and watched people working with the fish, shelling muscles and saw some massive crayfish. They also took us to the local gun club meet and we got to fire some impressive guns.

We visited a gold mine museum and saw how they extracted gold from the rocks which was interesting especially as there is still loads of gold left in the hills around the Coromandel (billions of dollars worth!).

On a rainy day we went to the bone carvers, which was run by one of the gun club members, and had a go at carving out own piece of bone into a small symbol. It took a few hours and actually looked quite good by the end!

We left the family for a few days and headed to the far North of New Zealand. We drove right up to Cape Regina and felt the full force of the wind off the Pacific Ocean! We enjoyed walking and shell hunting on the unspoilt deserted beaches along the coast.

We visited a gum diggers place and saw how people in the past dug for gum (amber). We also went to The Bay of Islands and enjoyed the views and visited the place where the first treaty was signed. On our way back south we drove through the Kauri forests and saw the largest and second largest living Kauri trees. They were massive! A very impressive tree. It’s a shame they take a thousand years or so to grow to their towering size!

In Auckland we stayed with an old childhood friend that now lives there and got shown all the sights including the sky tower, Mount Eden, the Winter Gardens, Devon Port and Kelly Tarltons Aquarium. there is so much to do that you don't get to see it all even when you have the time!

Coromandel Map

The relatives work in a local fish factory so we went and watched people working with the fish, shelling muscles and saw some massive crayfish. They also took us to the local gun club meet and we got to fire some impressive guns.

We visited a gold mine museum and saw how they extracted gold from the rocks which was interesting especially as there is still loads of gold left in the hills around the Coromandel (billions of dollars worth!).

 

We have travelled around the Coromandel area stopping at various view points and have also been up on driving creek railway to a spectacular view at the top. It has a pottery at the base of it that local artists make their creations.

We have had many walks including going up to Captain Cooks point (where he did some navigation things using the planet mercury to pin point his position on the earth and was so accurate that even today they are using the same points) and to Cathedral cove (where a part of 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' was filmed).

Me and my son feeding the birds
Me and my son feeding the birds
Held in position by a goose
Held in position by a goose
Tame deer following me around
Tame deer following me around
On the river crossing in the park
On the river crossing in the park

 

We visited a gum diggers place and saw how people in the past dug for gum (amber). We also went to The Bay of Islands and enjoyed the views and visited the place where the first treaty was signed. On our way back south we drove through the Kauri forests and saw the largest and second largest living Kauri trees. They were massive! A very impressive tree. It’s a shame they take a thousand years or so to grow to their towering size!

In Auckland we stayed with an old childhood friend that now lives there and got shown all the sights including the sky tower, Mount Eden, the Winter Gardens, Devon Port and Kelly Tarltons Aquarium. there is so much to do that you don't get to see it all even when you have the time!

On a rainy day we went to the bone carvers, which was run by one of the gun club members, and had a go at carving out own piece of bone into a small symbol. It took a few hours and actually looked quite good by the end!

 

We left the family for a few days and headed to the far North of New Zealand. We drove right up to Cape Regina and felt the full force of the wind off the Pacific Ocean! We enjoyed walking and shell hunting on the unspoilt deserted beaches along the coast.

South Island

We have now been on the South Island for a few weeks and have absolutely loved it. We started in the north after crossing on the ferry and travelled down the west coast to the very far south and then up the eastern coast. We visited friends in Picton (whom we met in China) and stayed a few nights catching up. We then headed to the North (of South Island!) and admired the stunning coastline along the Queen Charlotte Drive!

We walked a bit of the Abel Tasman National Park and we also stayed the night in Collingwood. That evening we walked down one of the banked lanes, near where we were staying, and saw glow worms on the banks. It was a clear night so the stars were as bright as the glow worms making it look like a Christmas tree!

We walked along the most Northerly point, which was very sandy and we were battered by the wind! There were hundreds of black swans in the water there as well. As we drove south, we had the ocean on one side and snow capped mountains on the other. We had to stop all the way and take loads of photos. We now have thousands! We have walked along hundreds of beaches, many getting blasted by sand, as the wind seems extremely strong here!

We went to Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier. They were remarkable, seeing the ice flows right down the valley. We got a helicopter up and over Franz Joseph and then landed on it for a 2-hour hike over the ice. The ice was really blue that far up the glacier and had huge crevices we walked through. We also found an ice cave that was cool to go into. It was my first time on a helicopter and an incredible but scary experience!

We headed further south and ended up in Wanaka. It is a small town on the edge of a lake surrounded by mountains. Possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been to. We went horse riding over the mountains on cowboy style horses. It was very up and down and I was aching for days afterwards!!!

 Queenstown is equally as beautiful but more touristy. We had great views from the top of the hill of the lake, snow capped mountains, and one day had fresh snow dusting the mountains.

We visited Milford Sounds and went on a boat trip through the fiord. The scenery was spectacular driving there and also on the boat. The Captain went right into a waterfall and collected water for us to try. It was really fresh and also very cold! We also saw penguins and seals on the rocks.

On the drive there and back, we stopped to take pictures (as usual) and came across a pair of naughty Kea’s (native parrots). They flew onto the roof and tried to peck bits off. They are known for their intelligence level being that of a monkey and behaviour the same!

Then we headed to the most southerly point on mainland New Zealand but had to take photos from afar as it path was closed due to lambing! Never mind the weather was on the turn and the wind strong anyway! We got some photos of the marker though with the zoom fully on the camera. We drove along the south coast stopping on the way to visit beaches and waterfalls. On the beaches were lots of sea lions and fur seals. I could not tell the difference though!

After travelling along the Southern coast we arrived on the eastern coast and went to Dunedin. We went to Otago peninsula and saw Albatross flying overhead. They were amazing as they were so large compared to the sea gulls! I bumped into a friends parents from home here! It is a small world! There I finally got to see penguins! The rare yellow-eyed penguins on nests keeping their eggs warm. There were also some nests with the tiny blue penguin in but they were quite well hidden.

We travelled on up the coast and saw more yellowed eyed penguins coming in for the night. They were funny as they tried to stand once on the shore and another wave would knock them down again! We also got to see a whole colony of little blue penguins come home for the night. There were over 100 of them and they formed small groups out at sea and then came in together quacking to each other. They then crossed the path just metres away from us and to their nests where they greeted their mate with a donkey like noise. As we were walking back we saw one under a hut and stopped to look. It then came out and right past us only 1 metre away! It was quite an experience. They were also about the car park and road as we were travelling away!

We then travelled p the east coast to Christchurch, Kaikoura and then through Blenhiem, back to Picton. We will get the ferry back to the North Island in a few days and then plan to see some more before going back to Whitianga to see some more relatives. So overall South Island is BEAUTIFUL and everyone should visit here!

We have now finished travelling the South Island and have explored the north more.


After spending a few days in the Wellington area we went to Mount Taranaki. It was a perfect volcano shape although the cloud mainly covered the top! We stopped off at some beautiful beaches along the way.


Then we went inland to lake Taupo via the mountains, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tonariro. The ski fields are now closed so we had a walk over them and along mount Rapehu. You would recognise these mountains in The Lord of the Rings especially Mount Doom.


Lake Taupo was very pretty and the sunsets amazing. We saw the Huka falls and a thermal area called the craters of the moon. Smelly steam is released in sulphur lined craters and bubbling pools of mud. Here we also did a sky dive. It was from 15,000 feet with a 10,000 foot freefall that only lasts a minute. The parachute is then opened at 5,000 feet and we glide in. It was really scary basically being pushed from a perfectly good aeroplane and then being battered by the air, but was also an exhilarating experience that was well worth it! We had photos taken and my face does show the horror of it where as Andy manages to smile the whole time! Mad!!!

We moved on to Rotorua and more thermal experiences. We visited the thermal wonderland and saw the Prince of Wales geyser shooting up, more bubbling mud and steaming things. And yes more smell! The different colours produced were impressive especially a bright green lake. We went to the buried village which was buried after a volcanic eruption in the 19th century. One evening we went to a cultural show where we were welcomed in the traditional Maori style, saw a traditional village at work, had an impressive song and dance show and then a hangi meal. It was a really good evening to understand a bit more about the Maoris. Also in Rotorua we went to Te Puia cultural museum which was more traditional culture, carving and weaving, thermal areas, bubbling mud and smell!!!

White Island

Next was a trip to White Island New Zealands only active marine volcano. We had 1 ½ hour boat trip (luckily it was really calm) and then a tour of the volcano. We walked all round and through the crater visiting more active areas. Some of the steam when it landed on you really stung as it was so acidic and we had to se gas masks. It was great to be able to actually walk around a smoking volcano that had the potential to blow!


Finally we visited Hobbiton, the remaining set of the Hobbits village in Lord of the Rings. We had a knowledgeable guide that gave a great chat about the area, how it was chosen and constructed. It was all a secret although locals were suspicious of the army and vehicles all arriving!!!

Comments

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    • profile image

      Brad 

      10 years ago

      Sounds like you had an awesome year of travel! Im a little embarrassed that you have seen more of New Zealand than me. I need to get out more.

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