Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tour of the North Island

January 19, 2009—We arrived back in Whangarei on January 7 and took a day to catch up on our sleep after a 12-hour return flight. Steve’s mom Zelda returned with us to spend a month in New Zealand, and our daughter Brie and her husband Tim arrived on January 8 after spending some time in Sydney, Australia, and Blenheim on the South Island.

After a relaxing for a day in Whangarei, eating lunch at Whangarei Falls, taking a short hike, and doing some touring around town, we headed north to Kerikeri on January 10. We drove along the coast enjoying the beautiful scenery and stopped for lunch in Pahia, which is a summer resort community.

When we arrived in Kerikeri, we checked in at our motel where we had a lovely cottage set in sub-tropical gardens. We then left to visit a chocolate factory (wonderful!) and enjoy a shop displaying wooden objects made of beautiful Kauri wood. The next day we shopped at the local growers’ market, toured the Stone Store that was built in the 1830’s and is the oldest stone building in New Zealand, and as we left Kerikeri, we stopped at Rainbow Falls for a picnic lunch.

We continued up the coast to Kaitaia where we went on a tour of the North Cape the next day. Our guide Selwyn was very entertaining and informative and gave us a full history of the area. The drive up the peninsula was very beautiful, and when we arrived at Cape Reinga, we all made the long walk down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is still in use, and directly below it is where the waters of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. Still visible on the very tip of Cape Reinga is the 800-year-old pohutukawa tree whose roots hide the entrance to the mythical Maori Underworld. This is the point where the Maori believe the spirits of the dead depart the earth.

After we left the Cape, we went to the Te Paki sand dunes where people could slide down the dunes using a sled, and then the bus then took us out on 90-mile Beach. We drove for quite awhile on the beach and stopped at one point to dig up some tuituis or clams. Steve, of course, came back with a bag full of them. When we returned to our motel room, we immediately steamed the clams and ate them—they were delicious!

On Tuesday, January 13, we left Kaitaia and drove down the northwestern side of the island. The scenery continued to be beautiful with green, rolling hills. We had to cross the Waihou River by ferry, and then we continued on and arrived in Omapere in the early afternoon. We stayed at the Harborside Bed and Breakfast, which was located on beautiful Hokianga Bay and the views were spectacular. Joy and Garth made us feel right at home.

On Wednesday we returned to Whangarei, stopping along the way to see the Tane Mahuta or “Giant Kauri” in the Kaury Forest on the way. The tree was approximately 150 feet tall, and it was amazing. We arrived back in Whangarei just in time to take Brie and Tim to do some shopping.

Thursday morning we enjoyed breakfast, and afterward Steve, Tim, and Brie took off for a hike up to Whangarei Falls. Zelda and I met them around one o’clock for some lunch, and then we (except for Zelda) used a rope swing to swing out over the water and go for a swim in the upper pond. We then walked down to the pool at the bottom of the falls and swam (in very cold water) in that pool. Steve, Tim, and Brie even swam under the waterfall.

The next day was a relaxing one that included a great lunch at the Thai restaurant in town. We took Brie and Tim to the airport around 5 o’clock and said our goodbyes. It was great fun to have them visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed having them spend time with us.

Next we are off to the South Island, but I will leave that for the next blog.

1 comment:

mary z said...

Hi Linda & Steve,

Jim and I just saw your website and wanted to say hi.....looks like you're having a great time...do you miss the rain here in wa???
be safe!!