After spending the first night near the airport in a nice Airbnb with three super friendly cats we were heading north for a few days.
After stocking up on supplies and camping equipment (we sold most of our stuff in Tasmania) we headed up the west coast towards Baylys Beach. We immediately noticed how much greener everything was compared to Australia and enjoyed the great scenery along the way.
After dinner, we headed to the cliffs and beach near the campground which offered impressive views. It’s easy to fall in love with NZ.
The next day we continued up north in splendid weather. First stop of the day was Trouson Kaui Park for a short walk in the pristine forest. Again, nature at its best.
Later on, we stopped at Waipou Forest to see an over 2000-year-old Kauri tree. A truly majestic sight in an impressive atmosphere. To top it off there was a group of Maoris singing some traditional songs. Just perfect.
A few kilometres later we stopped at a lookout in Opononi for another picture-perfect view before heading to Paihia for the next two nights.
For once, as it was still high season, we had pre-booked our campground. However, only upon arrival, we realised that it was the same one we had been the last time (we are either getting old or have travelled too much).
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The next day we visited the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds – the birthplace of modern New Zealand or Aotearoa as its called by the Maoris.
At this site, on the 6th February 1840, the British entered into a treaty with the local Maoris to annex New Zealand as a colony (see here for more details).
Although up to today there are some disputes about the interpretation (mainly because of different wording in the English and Maori version) the place and document are central to NZ history.
In general, we feel that New Zealand did a better job in terms of national unity (between the Maori and former colonists) than Australia (acknowledging that this is an oversimplified statement).
Besides a lot of history, the grounds also offer a fantastic view of the bay as well as the longest traditional canoe of the country.
Family Reunion in Auckland
The next day we headed back to Auckland as Hazel’s parents and sister in law were joining us for ten days. On the way, we visited the Whangarei Falls.
After upgrading our car the next day (it was too small for the five of us) we headed to Mount Eden which offers a good view of the city. The second stop of the day was the Botanical Garden which had some nice roses.
Sunny Coromandel Peninsula
After another night in Auckland, we headed east to the Coromandel Peninsula. We enjoyed the landscape in picture-perfect summer weather.
After driving up the west coast of the peninsular we turned right onto 309-Road – a 20km gravel road connecting the two coasts of the peninsula.
The road has two main attractions (besides a semi-wild pig farm). The picturesque Waiau Falls and some impressive Kauri Trees.
After stocking up on groceries we checked in at our Airbnb in Pauanui where we stayed for two nights. Pauanui is more or less a holiday colony with a pretty beach and a relaxed feel to it.
Digging our own Hot Tub
We slept in the next day and only headed out in the early afternoon.
First stop was Cathedral Cove, a famous rock formation on a beach. In contrast to our last visit, there were quite a few more people on the beach (partially probably due to the NZ/Australian school holidays). A well-oragnised shuttle service from the car park prevented traffic chaos.
A 30-minute walk brought us down to the beach where we took some photos and Kevin even went for a refreshing swim.
The second highlight of the day was Hot Water Beach. This popular beach has some hot streams beneath it and during low tide, you can dig your own hot tub (the water is really quite hot). That was great fun and we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.
This was also the first preview of the thermal activities we would see the next few days.