Wednesday, 23 June 2010

East to West to East and back again.

We have criss crossed North Island taking in the Wairarapa, back through Tongariro, down the Whanganui River, around Taranaki and then along the Forgotten World Highway and through Te Urewera to the east coast once more giving us the chance to head around the wild and beautiful East Cape.

Deserted beaches, quiet villages and empty campsites combined with sunny warm weather to give us a memorable stage of our trip. Tolaga Bay with its pier was memorable as was the view from East cape lighthouse with Ohiwa providing excellent cycling around the inlet and lagoons - the shortest day of the year but back to T shirts and breakfasts outside.

Rotorua and its thermal and volcanic sights was remarkable and enjoyed from the comfort of Liz and John's excellent farmstay at

A major highlight on a perfect day was the trip over to the volcanically active White Island where water bubbled, sulphurous steam erupted and gas masks were issued -an amazing place to visit with the constant risk of another eruption.

We now head via Tauranga to Raglan for a treat for Sarah - riding and a comfy eco lodge before heading to house sit for a week in Auckland and start bringing this trip to a close.

The van has continued to perform well beyond reasonable expectations and we are both fit and well. Try this link for the latest pics.

Monday, 14 June 2010

North Island And A Touch of Winter

We crossed to Wellington where the Te Papa museum provided much of interest and a puncture late at night in the carpark - solved by replacing two rear tyres the following day.
The Wairarapa coastline was wild wet and windy with the highlight being 200 seals seeking sanctuary on the grassy verges as we drove to Cape Palliser lighthouse.

After enjoying the art deco and maritime aquarium of Napier we headed across to Tongariro for a superb walk on the slopes of snow clad and dormant Ruapehu before heading to the Whanganui River area.
Here we enjoyed the Athene Skyline Trail in good weather - recently it has been a mix of torrential rain and bright sunny days causing flooding and damage around New Zealand with South Island getting some heavy snow rendering areas we enjoyed earlier in the year inaccessible.

Mount Taranaki and the Surf Coast provided more impressive scenery on a grand scale before we took the Forgotten Highway across to Taupo enjoying superb native bush and the Whangamomona Hotel.

At Taupo the 'Craters of the Moon' and Hukka Falls were impressive - the former being steaming vents of volcanic gasses bubbling and hissing away as a result of changes following the constuction of a geo thermal power station.

Te Urewera National Park was a demanding 60 miles of twisting unsealed road that is still very much a Maori heartland - again people living in very isolated circumstances deep in unspoilt bush. It is an undervisited area and provided us with a couple of excellent walks through superb forest scenery.

Finally we have emerged on the East Coast once more and the mixed weather is showing signs of settling down as we head from Gisborne north around the Pacific coast highway.
DOC sites have provided good camping but when it has been wet the lure of power and hot showers has been too great and we also plan to have the odd treat in a bach or cottage during our final 3 months here.
Our visas for Oz and flights are in place with arrangements for shipping the van to be made when we pass through Auckland in early July.
Internet has been limited until today but we hope to post again soon, meanwhile the pics are here