26.05.2010 - 02.06.2010
It was so good to land in New Zealand and even the immigration man was nice - he was telling us where to go and what to visit...such a difference to in the US!!! We booked into the ACB Base and went out for a little explore in the rain. We had a Mexican for tea and then made our first journey to the tower before returning home to bed in our windowless room. The guy in our room told us of how he'd had his bag stolen the week before from his room when he was sleeping so now we're being even more precautious!
We moved rooms in the morning and it still didn't have any windows!! We headed straight off to the i-site information centre where a guy called Ashley helped us to find the best deal for our car hire; we booked something with him straight away :-). We were on a high as we hadn't expected it to be so easy to sort the car out. For lunch it was time to experience our first pie of New Zealand and some Tam Tams which are the NZ equivalent of penguins. As the car had been so quick and easy to sort out we had to contemplate how to spend the rest of the day. Wound up being a really silly day with lots of laughter and giggling before deciding we ought to go up the Sky Tower since we had walked back and forth from it so many times in the past 24 hours.
It was just before sunset when we headed up which was the perfect time as we saw it in daylight and nightlight. Just meant that we had to hang around quite a while. Saw a couple of people jump off the building (organised not suicide!) which was really impressive and some people doing a skywalk around the rim of the building.
We tried to go and watch a band in the evening, however, we were turned away because we weren't dressed well enough. Pretty upsetting and not very traveller friendly!! Instead we headed off to a comedy club and managed to catch the second half. Here we experienced a very racist comedian who managed to offend the majority of the audience and was actually called racist by an audience member. None of the comedians were very funny unfortunately so it was a bit of a waste of $18.
We were picked up just after 9am to go and collect the car by a guy who refused to speak more than two words to us so it made for a slightly awkward car journey. We opted to take the full car insurance (just in cases!) and so the little pink car was our's for the next forty days :-).
We droce off to find some maps and food before leaving Auckland via the bridge in order to head North. We went to Mangawhai Heads on the off chance that Jenny had replied to our e-mail; turned out that she had but would be away until 11pm and so we continued our drive North. We stopped off at Paihia, the gateway for the Bay of Islands, and booked into the Pipi Patch. But beforehand we stopped off to see the famous Hunterwasser toilets in Kawakawa - they are quite ridiculous!!
After a little wander around, we grabbed some fish and chips for tea which we devoured by the sea. Afterwards we felt we deserved some ice cream since we were on the coast and it felt very much like we were in a warmer Scotland but it was still a bit nippy to eat it outside. After a trip to the supermarket, we showered and sorted out our "T" fancy dress for the evening's festivities. We eventually decided to go as a Tourist (Kristian) and a Toga Lady (Jo) but we did flirt with the idea of going as Tranvestite Twins!! Kristian looked wicked with his shorts rolled up, shirt tucked in and his white sock/flip flop combo.
The money belt and camera set did set off the look though! The night started off slow and we got chatting with a Dutch Tina Turner...! After a few rounds of cards and a free teapot from the bar (think it was basically just Pineapple juice) the night started to liven up a bit as a Contiki tour joined the proceedings. After a game of "suck and blow", which we quite frankly sucked at, we did some more drinking and dancing. The next activity was the fancy dress judging which Kristian came fourth in!! Unfortunately a girl dressed as tiolet roll won the skydive - she did look amazing though. We got another free teapot out of it at least. The rest of the night is a blur with our photos shedding more light than our memories.....
As a result of the night before we very almost slept in!!! Jo managed to mess up setting the alarm...so it was just chance that we did wake up in time! We rushed to the bay n order to make the boat which we did, thank goodness :-). We boarded the yellow boat and set off on the four hour trip around the islands; not a reccommended thing to do with a hangover! We found some dolphins pretty quickly which was really cool - they were much biggger than any we'd seen before. Unfortunately they didn't seem to want to play so we weren't able to swim with them :-(. By the time we left them there were about twelve of them swimming around and under the boat.
Once we had left them, Kristian decided to feed the seagull which was flying alongside our boat - we got some pretty amazing photos of that and it certainly seemed to keep him entertained for a while! Meanwhile Jo had headed back inside the cabin as she was feeling a little worse for wear; a couple of sick bags later and she was starting to feel a little better!
Next stop on the tour was to the hole in the rock which we were lucky enough to get to go through - the boat behind us bypassed it as they obviously thought it was too choppy. We stopped off at the biggest island for an hour where we had a bite to eat and a walk to a lookout point. The view from the lookout was really good and so we decided to make an attempt at some jumping photos! After a little ride round some more islands we were headed back for steadier ground.
Once back on firm land we decided to drive right to the top of New Zealand, to Cape Reinga. Took about three and a half hours to get there but we arrived at one of the best times. There weren't many people around and when we got to the lighthouse we were actually the only two there! Pretty darn cool to say we were the two most northern people in New Zealand for that period of time. It was looking really stormy out at sea and Kristian got a bit obsessed with taking photos of the clouds and the sea.
We had a bit of a joke around with the camera, making the most of having such an iconic spot to ourselves. We should've stayed there for the sunset but it was rather wet and windy so we droce down a bit and then stopped to watch it. Was a really good sunset what with all the storm clouds. As Jo was feeling a little bit more human by now she drove the hour and a half back to civilisation where we could get a bed for the night.
After spending a night at a backpackers in Kaitaia, we were back in the car again. We first of all headed to Ahipara to see the start of the Ninety Mile Beach - was pretty impressive. We were kinda gutted that we couldn't take our car down onto the beach and drive along it :-(.
Then we were back in the car for another ninty minutes to Kohukohu where we caught a ferry to Rawere. We were very lucky to make it, we had moments to spare, otherwise we would have been sitting around in a place where there was nothing for an hour. The ferry was just 15 minutes and we headed round towards the coast to see some good views of Hokianga.
Next stop took us to the Waipoua Forest where we first of all saw Tane Mahuta, the God of the Forest, and then largest known Kauri tree. It is pretty impressively massive! After we were satisfied our eyes had seen enough of this tree we drove 1km along the road to do a short walk to see more huge tress. We walked for forty mintues to see "the father", the second biggest known kauri tree, before turning around and stopping by to see the four sisters. By now we were feeling like we'd seen enough trees for one day and so we jumped back in the car and made our way back to Mangawhai heads to meet Jen.
We arrived at her lodge at about 4 where she very kindly offered to put us up for the night. We dragged in all our bags and enjoyed a beer/a cup of tea out on the verandah before it was too chilly and the sun went down. She has the most fantastic views out onto the beach and the hen and chicken islands - a very lucky lady! Jenny cooked us meatballs for tea - it was sooooooooooo good to have some homecooked food! The night was very relaxed, full of stories about Kristian's mum before we settled down to watch some good old crime dramas on TV.
When we got up on Monday morning we learnt the weather forecasters had been right and the weather had turned for the worse. The rainy morning seemed to call for us to catch up with people at home...so we did! At 2pm we went for a horse ride along the beach which was rather exciting! The guy who was with us was rather weird and the part that he led along the beach was kinda boring. As we were just out for an hour the Japanese lady took us off into the dune for the ride back. It was once in here that we made an attempt at cantering. This proved to be problematic as Kristian's "gentelmanly" horse didn'tseem to want to go any fater than a walk! He got a few trots out of Geri but that was about it - was very funny indeed.
We tried quite a few more times but never to much luck. Both of our horses seemed to be hungry and we were almost thrown over their heads a couple of times with their angst to eat some greenery. All in all it was a rather amusing way to pass the afternoon - Geri, nor us, seemed to want our hour to end as he stopped outside the gates from inside the yard. All that jo and the lady could hear was Kristian saying "Come on Geri, come on now...." This went on until the lady had to go round to get them which is when Geri seemed to understand his fun was over for the day.
After a really long lin on on Tuesday we were sad to be leaving Jeanette and her amazing hospitality. Hopefully we'll be able to return again sometime in the future. This meant it was time to pack again before we were on teh road once more. The day as a whole was a bit on a write off as it was dark by the time we arrived at Waitomo. We booked into the YHA and cooked some tea before making an attempt to find a bushwalk where we'd get to see some glowworms. It was so dark and quiet and our maps were rubbish so eventually we gave up and called iot a night.
And so concludes our first week in Kiwi Land.