Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Adventures in Northland

Apologies for the short bloggy delay - we've been too busy having fun cruising around the top of New Zealand's North Island in our Spaceship.

We picked it up on Monday 8th in Auckland and set off on an anti-clockwise route around Northland, taking in Goat Island Marine Reserve, Paihia and the Bay of Islands, Matai Bay, Cape Reinga, Trounson Kauri Forest and Waiwere before coming back through Auckland and heading off to the Coromandel for a few days in and around Tairua.
Highlights? You asked for it:

Seeing dolphins frolicking in the waves and generally flip their lids in the Bay of Islands. Bonus related lowlight: hearing Debs struggling not to be sick in the chop and swell of the Pacific waves...

The beautiful and deserted Matai Bay, where we stayed overnight in a Department of Conservation campsite. Very low on facilities but high on isolated wilderness. Associated lowlight: getting a dreadful night's sleep owing to (imaginary) axe murderers stalking around our van and (all too real) swarms of mosquitos sucking our blood all night.

The tour around Cape Reinga was a blast - we took a bus driven by a chipper old Maori who made constant booze-related jokes all the way up to the very top of the island then back down 90 mile beach (sample joke:"I've just got my licence back after a 6 month ban for drunk driving!" LOLz!). Many good things on this tour, including the biggest ice cream ever (so big, we shared it), seagull frenzy at lunchtime, seeing the bit where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, tobogganing down the sand dunes, then actually driving all the way down the 90 mile beach itself. Good! All this for $45 a head (EUR 25).

We finished off in fine style, driving through Waipoua Kauri Forest in pitch blackness (Debs: "Wow, you wouldn't want to break down here, would you?") before overnighting in the extremely hospitable and well-lit Top Ten site in Trounson Kauri Forest. The next morning we took a short walk in the forest and left the following note in the visitors book: "Lovely place for a morning stroll. We saw a pigeon with a bad right wing - please help him."

We hope and pray that someone heeds that plea.

Ben and Debs

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