The Kiwi adventure begins...
04.01.2010 - 12.01.2010
So, I'm finally writing about a country that i'm actually in - rather than catching up...!
However i'm using a rather old computer (the keyboard is struggling to keep up with me!), so i'm afraid there will still be no photos or no map updates quite yet!
New Zealand so far has been a big adventure, full of incredible scenery and wondefully kind people.
We were picked up from the airport (at 1 in the morning!) by someone i'd never met before (Lesley) but was a friend of the athletics coach of Birmingham uni. He'd kindly put us in touch with each other and Mikey and I would be staying at their home in Auckland for a few nights.
On our first day in Auckland we caught a ferry to a nearby place called Devonport for a wander round and great views of the city. In the evening, Lesley and her partner CHris were invited to their friends for dinner - and they invited us too! Lesley ran in the the Barcelona Olympics (10k) and their friend is the head of NZ Triathlon Coaching - so as you can imagine i contributed a lot to the conversation!
We left Auckland the next day, picked up our car (Stevie the Starlet) - and loaded up with a big cool box and maps (thanks to Lesley!) we set off on another road trip!
On the way to Bay of islands, we called in at Goat Island beach which was beautiful. We arrived in Paihia (at the bay of islands) after a long drive to discover no accommodation was free...after a small panic we were directed to another area Russell - a short ferry ride across the bay. A blessing in disguise as there we stayed in the most wonderful hostel (basically a family home - we'd share the kitchen with them and they had chickens so we got to use thier fresh eggs!)- and russel was a MUCH nicer/quainter more picturesque spot and we ended up staying longer than planned.
We spent the next day wandering around and exploring, and disovering lots of amazing tiny hidden beautiful beaches. The following day we had a boat trip which went all around the islands - it was amazing!!
We got up early the next day to set off - but decided to stick around to watch the start of the annual tall boats race - well worth it - there were hundreds of boats - we walked to the top of a great lookout to watch it - its looked stunning.
Our next night spot was north west (a very small..tiny place called Kohukohu) but on the way we went to the Keri Keri peninsula and Doutless bay - where there were some gorgeous little beaches and bays. Arrived at Kohukohu - and again after a small panic for accommodation we landed on our feet with a hostel called the treehouse lodge. We arrived just in time for a walk up to another wonderful lookout across a lake for sunset.
The next morning we got a ferry across the lake to carry on our journey...next stop the Coromandal Peninsula...via a stop at the Kia Iwi lakes. They are HUGE...but as it was holiday season and the main lake is by a caravan park - it wasn't quite the peaceful spot we were hoping for! SO after a snooze on the beach we set off for Coromandel. We arrived in coromandal town in time for dinner, ready for a good sleep, before driving for our first decent length walk (about 3hrs) right at the tip of the peninsula. It was beautiful - some good hill climbs and cliff top walking with amazing views...through the odd field of cows that stared at us like we were invading their space rather...we didnt hang around there!
After another night in our lovely hostel, we drove to Rotorua. On the way we stopped at the Hot water beach - a beach where there are natural hot springs under the sand so if you did a whole it fills with hot water for you to relax in. The joy of holiday season struck again though and as there is a very limited space where the springs are, it was absolutly heaving - it felt a bit like a cattle farm. Mikey (wanting to be manly) dug numerous holes (very impressively)...but to no avail - but sat stubbornly and proudly in his cold water anyway! There were about 3 good spots and these old fat women hogged them for aaages, while us cold pool public looked on in envy!! We staged a bit of a battle though and in the end just knocked down their walls and barged into their spot then all just stood triumphantly in very hot water, burning our feet to make a point! All in all - fun to try but a bit of a let down...ah well!
We then drove to another near by attraction - cathedral cove - a huge natural archway between two gorgeous beaches which you have to walk for about 40 minutes to see (with some rather steep hills along the way!). It was worth it though. The beaches were amazing. Another slightly touristy spot but the hills put the majority of the cattle farm of holiday makers off this time i think (though we did spot the same group of fat old women making their way slowly down on our return walk!!!).
After an ice cream we headed to rotorua and arrive in time for dinner and a trip to the local polynesian spa. Rotorua being a hotbed (haha!) of thermal activity, there are lots of natual spas etc...these ones were a lot more sophisticated though - in proper pools, at different temperatures etc. So we sat in a 41 degree natural spa, looking at the night sky of Rotorua...in the rain! Not a bad start!
I've rambled on quite enough for now i think (i've got into waffle mode again - i'm sorry...i wonder if anyone is actually reading this???!)
Anyway - i'm now only a week and a bit behind! Hurrah!
Tune in next week for more installments...heres a sneak preview... smelly sulphur, gale force wellington winds, drunken bicycle riding and me being dragged on stage at an international busker festival! I bet you can't wait.
LOVE to all xxxx