Day 16: We missed the
early morning opportunity to see the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers,
so we have some time strolling through Napier, see the Kiwi house, Opossum World
(opossums being considered New Zealand's public enemy # 1) and a sheep skin tour
in a local factory. The afternoon is spent on Te Awanga Gannet safaris' tour through
Summerlee station to Cape Kidnappers, a rather unique Gannet colony on the mainland.
The area (Hawke's Bay) is as well famous for it's fine wines.
Sometime in the late afternoon, we leave for Taupo, and once arrived there, relax
in a natural hot water spa.
Day 17: Another day
with a full program, first of all Wairakei valley with visits to the
Huka falls, the Craters of the moon, Honey hive, wood crafts and the
ECNZ Geothermal information center.
The next stop was Orakei Korako - The Hidden Valley (according to some
once you have seen this, you don't need to stop in Rotorua), another aerea with
lots of geothermal activity.
Finally we continued on our way to Waihi with short stops in Rotorua and
Day 18: The whole day
spent touring the Coromandel Peninsula with some visits to lovely
beaches like Hahei or others. Unfortunately we were too late (due to high tide)
to enjoy Hot Water beach. Took however a lovely walk down (and exhausting
back up) to Cathedral Cove. The area is famous as well for it's many craft shops.
Definitely not enough time again... Late afternoon we arrived in Thames.
Day 19: Left Thames
after a visit of a local saturday morning market, using the Auckland
scenic route. Again, we were passing lovely beaches, some parts almost only
consisting of shells. At a certain time, our van was stopped by a huge crowd of
sheep making their way to some meadow and using the road. Fortunately they were
guided by a farmer with it's five dogs. We passed Auckland and finally arrived
in the Bay of Islands area (Paihia) in the late afternoon.
Day 20: To start the
day, a Bay of islands boat trip starting from Paihia via Russel and bringing
us to Motukokako Island, better known as Hole in the Rock. From there further on
to Urupukapuka Island (yet another name not really easy to pronounce) for a lunch break.
On our return back, we visited Kelly Tarlton's Museum of Shipwrecks before heading to
Waitangi National Reserve to see the Treaty house, the Maori meeting house and the
Maori war canoes. Surely an historical place.
We continued our way further up north towards Ninety mile beach, just stopping enroute
at another wine estate (Cottle Hill) to have a short break. Later on, after our arrival
at Waipapakauri beach, we enjoyed a nice walk over the endless beach till sunset.
Day 21: Early in the
morning we joined a Far North tour bringing us to Cape Reinga. Enroute
we stopped at the Wagener Museum. Unfortunately the weather at the cape wasn't
very good, low clouds coming from the ocean made it rather impossible to distinguish
the cape. We had a lunch break at Tapotupotu Bay before heading back to the
northern part of ninety mile beach, making our way through Te Paki stream and
stopping on our way to the beach for a little exercise; sand tobogganing in the dunes.
We followed the beach back to our departing point, and after we were dropped off,
took the opportunity to visit an Angora farm in Awanui.
We continued our way towards Opononi having the Far North ferry on our own
between Kohukohu and Rawene. Not really a surprise as this isn't really the usual
Day 22: Today should
be the last day with our van, tonight we were supposed to be in Auckland.
On our way, we passed Waipoua Kauri Forest National Park, one of the last remains
of large Kauri forests. Several huge trees like Tane Mahuta, Te Matua Ngahere, the
Four Sisters have survived until today. Another interesting track was the Yakas
Kauri walk. Guess what... it rained again, and that's also the main reason you won't
see any pictures of these huge trees, the light was just too bad.
Heading towards Auckland we made another stop at the Matakohe Kauri museum,
showing as well the history of deforesting entire regions.
Day 23: Whole day spent
in Auckland. We joined a tour on the Explorer bus, had to note
however that the two hours time at each spot were definitely too long and making
us loose far too much time. We stopped at Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic and
Underwater World, Parnell, BNZ Tower and Victoria Market. For the rest of the
day, we just strolled through the city.
Day 24: So this was
it, the day of our departure. We took a last walk down Queen Street
towards the harbor and enjoyed a walk along the wharf. We had seen so much during
the last weeks, definitely rushing too much and the decision to return to this
beautiful country was taken even before leaving it.
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