Friday, 12 December 2014

Coramandel Peninsula

After a great trip around the Northland we still had plenty of time to do some more exploring before heading back to Auckland for Christmas.
So, off we headed to the Coramandel Peninsula. Very pretty with lots of the Pohutukawa trees lining the road, the kiwis refer to these as their 'Christmas Trees' because when they flower the flowers are red and they do this around Christmas time!

We stayed at a holiday park in Thames after almost a full day of driving. We try our best to avoid Holiday Parks as they are expensive but sometimes you don't have a choice! Having a hot shower and kitchen facilities is always a treat too.  Thames is a fairly old mining town. We didn't hang about here the next morning and headed up to Hot Water Beach. Popular for the fascinating hot water pools that can be found in a certain spot on this beach. When we got there there was already haudes of people digging holes to try and find the hot water, some were even already in their personally dug out hot pools! We hired a shovel which seemed to be the thing to do and got to it! We were soon let into a secret that there's only a certain, quite small spot that the hot water can be found. This sadly meant all these people digging around us were not going to have much luck if they kept digging all day! We jumped into the spot once it was freed up and oh my the water was literally boiling- you couldn't even stand in it! We dug out a little pool to paddle is as once its surfaced for while it does cool down. It was quite funny to watch the new people come over to have a look and end up hopping away with burning feet! 

Cathedral Cove was next on our list,  a must see if you visit the Coramandel. Its name comes from the dramatic formation of the famous cove shape in the rock. It is a secluded beach that has been preserved as area of natural beauty and has not been commercialised at all- there are not even any bins or picnic benches. You have to walk down a narrow path or kayak to it, you cannot drive. It was a cloudy breezy day when were there but it was still stunning with its white sand and clear waters. We walked a lovely half hour walk along the coast to it from Hahei Beach stopping at two other quiet idyllic bays along the way. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cape Reinga

This is one of the highlights so far, a clear, warm and breezy day at the most northern point of the country. The Cape Reinga lighthouse looks over where two oceans meet, the Tasman Sea and the the Pacific Ocean. With it being 100km from the nearest town of Kaitaia the drive up to the cape is along windy roads with fantastic mountain and coastal views. Check it out in the photos below!!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Waitangi, Bay of Islands

A spot considered sacred by the Maori, and New Zealand's most historic site. This is where the treaty document was signed between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs in 1840. Within the grounds lies the Treaty house, the Meeting House, the War Canoe, the Flagstaff and Hobsons Beach. 
It is a must see if you are in this part of the country. We booked onto a cultural show which was a fascinating insight into Maori life. The show included traditional dancing and singing as well as informative speeches about their ways of life. It ended with the Haka which i think everyone was waiting to see! 
War Canoe 

Hobsons Beach- the landing site of Captain William Hobson who was the British representative that negotiated with the Maori for the signing of the Treaty.

The Flagstaff marking the spot of the signing of the Treaty.

Maori Meeting House

The Maori chief checking were not a threat! 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Russell & Paihia



Russell is so cute! Beautiful little fishing village. It was the first permanent European settlement and seaport of New Zealand. Back then it used to be full of drunks and fighting and no one wanted to go there! Now it gets a lot of visitors off the ferries from Paihia which is just across the water and the rest of the country!
We had some seriously tasty fresh Fish (Tarakihi) and Chips by the water and then made our way to Paihia by car ferry.

Found a nice, small campervan site in Paihia and settled for the evening with some barbecued chicken the the lovely Sauvignon!
Paihia is a very touristy town right on the beach looking out to the islands. The next day we took a boat trip out to get a proper look.
The 4 hour trip with the company Explore was brilliant, well worth the money. It included a very informative commentary too about the history of the islands.

A pod of Bottlenose dolphins swam by our boat!