Friday, 30 July 2010

Northland - Winter (ish)

After a relaxing week in Orewa we have headed up the east coast of North Island staying in empty DOC sites and enjoying superb coastal walks under a warm sun as the weather has settled down considerably since June. A slow meander brought us to Whangarei with amazing scenery, memorable bays and remarkable views down across the Hauraki Gulf.

Unable to resist the alluring blue seas and distant islands any longer we booked with Dive Tutukaka for a day across to the Poor Knight's Islands where whilst others dived we enjoyed snorkelling in the clear waters teeming with a vast array of sub tropical fish and marine life. Sarah took the plunge - literally and was a star for having a go - enjoying with the rest of us the feeling of flying as we floated over the sea bed many metres below.

We are now in the picturesque village of Russell and cross to Paihia tomorrow with Cape Reinga our destination for next weekend.

The good weather has been welcome and even the evenings are getting lighter - this week's full moon provided a surreal seascape at Oakura as the gentle swell washed ashore not ten feet from the van.

Photos here - underwater photography is yet another steep learning curve!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Out and About in Auckland

Piha and the vast black sand beaches provided a final dose of wild country west of Auckland before we hit the motorway and arrived in Orewa at the start of a week long high pressure weather system. This enabled us to enjoy lunch in the garden, walks in to town and along the beach and a bike ride round the estuary.

Staying in the house was quite a novelty and we made good use of the usual comforts to chase up the Australian transfer and address some of the tasks we will face when we return home in 6 weeks time.

Tuesday saw us drop the van in to Continental Car Services for a change of timing belt and water pump leaving us the day to catch a train to the Museum of Transport and Technology where an impressive collection of planes, trains and automobiles filled the day. The display of Ed Hillary's crossing of Antarctica using three Ferguson tractors was particularly impressive.

On Thursday we parked up at Devonport to catch the ferry across to Central Auckland enjoying the fabulous panorama of the waterfront shining in the bright sunshine. The Skytower was well worth a visit particularly on such a clear day with a few intrepid souls braving the jump - amazing.

The Maritime Museum rounded off the day with its extensive galleries and exhibits - a sister steam crane to the one moored down at Wellington and modern yachts vied for space with traditional Maori canoes, sailing dinghies and artefacts from the heyday of New Zealand shipping before the road network was improved and cheap flights arrived.

This weekend Sue and Danny return after their trip to Europe and we head north on Monday for our final leg - click here for pics.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

West Coast of the North Island in Mid Winter

The wet weather that has followed us intermittently around North Island has largely dissipated to be replaced by cold nights but warm and sunny days - particularly on the coast. After much socialising in the Rotorua area we spent a couple of nights in a self contained and well appointed lodge where the out door hot tub was celebrated with a glass or two of fizz - 'tis a hard life on the road.

Raglan and the coast south were a delight - few tourists venture down the twisty unsurfaced road to Kawhia and we enjoyed the scenic isolation with vast empty beaches.

Here in Waitomo an area famous for its many cave systems we have enjoyed walks around the surface limestone features but resisted the temptation to venture underground.

We now head to Auckland which will be something of a culture shock but should enable us to finalise our onward plans before our final push to the heady sub tropical delights of Northland and Cape Reinga. Less pics than usual here as it is only a few days since we last posted.