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Trip Report Couple of Weeks in the North Island.

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Just back from a 10 day break in the North Island.

The night before departure I booked my car onto the interislander ferry, it was $5 more expensive then the Bluebridge but the departure times were more convenient. All things being equal I do prefer to travel on the Blue-bridge but these not much between the two ferries.

Final check in was at 9:30am, so I had a boring wait of just over a hour before departure. One of the joys of ferry travel. Did use this time to take a few photos. The trip across the strait was mostly uneventful, although the wind was extremely powerful towards the wellington heads.

I arrived in Wellington around 9:30am and was on my way north, a brief stop at a look out to photograph the stormy seas. My first stop was in Foxton to visit a fishing store. By late afternoon I was driving across the desert road, sadly the overcast conditions meant the volcanoes were hidden from view. By the time I reached Tongariro it was getting dark . I noticed quite a few fly fishermen were stationed at the various pools and river mouths. After a quick glance through the travel brochures I decided to push onto Taupo and spend the night there.

Trying to save money I booked myself into a easy to find hostel, before taking a evening walk around the town to get a vibe of the place. Had dinner before returning to the lake shore to take a few long exposure photographs.

September 6
Woke around 7-am, and had a look at the Huka falls. Seen the falls sever times before so they were less impressive but still a nice way to waste a few minutes. By the time I got back to town a few of the shops were opening so I checked a few of them out. Heard the trout were currently running in good numbers, so I considered spending a few days in Taupo targeting them but I was not prepared to purchase a separate Taupo license. Plus the westerly winds were already picking up.

So I left Taupo heading north, but first a short break to check out 'Craters of the Moon' which is a thermal park with a cool number. The entry fee was under $10 and the walk took around 45 minutes. While it was a nice enough walk, it was rather unimpressive compared with the main thermal attractions at Rotorua.

Was soon back on SH1 driving north. If I was smart I would have avoided driving through Hamilton. That city is nothing but a giant road block. But I decided to go through anyway, the city added around 45 minutes to my travel times. The trip through Auckland was quick and problem free, I love the multi lane motorways. For same reason even the inconsiderate drivers who happily go at 80km/hr on two lane roads speed right up the moment they hit the second lane.

Was soon out of Auckland and heading into North Land. It was not long before the inconsiderate drivers slowed back down to their usual snail pace.... Sometimes I wish the police would do something to keep them off the road.

By late afternoon I reach Whangarei where I spent the night. Whangarei is a fairly large city, without being to big. I stayed at a small camp ground which had a lively atmosphere and was only 5 minutes from the Whangarei Falls. On dark I walked down to the falls and took a few long exposure photographs.

September 7.
Even more driving today, I headed towards the far north. I booked myself into the backpackers at Houhora Heads campground and had the entire place to myself. Fairly certain I was the only person in the entire campground.

Then I went exploring northwards, the weather was quite atrocious. Scouted out a few of the east coast beaches, before diving to the northern most NZ town of Te Hapua which is a tiny coastal community only accessible down a long gravel road. Did consider stopping there for a afternoon fish because it was sheltered from the worst of the winds. But decided to check out Spirits bay instead, Spirits Bay is a popular summer campground and land based fishing spot in the far North. When I was there I could barely stand thanks to the gale force winds screaming in.

Around this time it started to rain, so I drove back to the small town of Waikiki landing (northern most fuel in the country) before deciding to check out Cape Reinga in a storm. It was horrible. I been to the cape a couple of years earlier so could not be bothered walking down to the lighthouse.

The rain grew heavier, and the wind died down. I retreated back to Houhora and waited it out in my cabin. Just on dusk the rain stopped (and the wind started to pick up). So I went for a fish in the Harbour itself. Caught a couple of eagle rays which was reason enough to give up for the night.

Day 8.
I woke to a perfect day, so drove to the wharf at Houhora and went for a morning fish. Apart from the lack of fish it was pleasant, then the rain returned. The weather for today was going to be westeries blowing in rain fronts every hour or so. Between the fronts it was warm and sunny.

Mid-morning I fished off the rocks a bit further north, and hooked something big on my light rod. Eventually got sick of the constant rain so decided to head south. The plan was to get supplies in Kataia before heading over to the Kerikeri Peninsula. The first part went fine, because I did not consult a map the second part took much longer. I was expecting there to be many connecting roads between the SH1 and the east coast, there are but they are poorly signposted so I drove south for the best part of a hour before getting my GPS to find me the way. It took my through same interesting country before connecting me to the SH10 on the east coast. Was a decent drive back north to KeriKeri peninsula and I stayed the night in a campground at Whatuwhiwhi. Very scenic and nice spot, perfect for a lazy summer holiday. Around 5pm the rain started again, but was able to get out for a tri-light fish.

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    September 9

    I woke to windy conditions, so decided to head further south. I checked out several new areas of the bay of Islands before returning to Whangarei where I booked into a cabin for the night.

    Went for a evening drive out to the Whangarei heads, and went for a evening fish just across from the Marsden Point Oil refinery. Had great light at sunset, and because the fishing was dead I took photos instead.

    September 10
    The next day I returned to the Whangarei Heads and climbed Mount Manaia a extinct volcano. The walk took a couple of hours but offered good views of the surrounding area. Saw Kaka and other native birds on the walk up. The wind was extremely strong and cold on the top so did not stick around. Would be a great summer evening walk for anyone spending the night in Whangarei.

    I been online the day before and have secured a excellent deal for black water rafting at Waitomo Caves on the 12th. So had to start heading south. I planed to stay in Auckland for the night but was not in the mood to deal with the traffic so pushed on to Rotorua instead. Just had time to take a few photos before dark. Then I went and got Dinner before visiting Paradise springs in the dark. (Get the Jasons Rotorua Guide, they have 10% off coupons for most attractions).

    Paradise Springs was okay in the dark, although the standout was the open air kiwi house. Saw one feeding just a few feet from me. If it was not for the security camera would have been tempted to pat it.

    September 11.
    The morning was crisp, and I took a dawn walk next to the lake. Then I decided to visit the buried village and the green and blue lakes which was just out of town. I have seen them before, but did not find the lakes overly blue or green... The buried village is the remains of a small town (Te Wairoa) which got buried by the eruption of Mount Tarawerathe in 1886. While interesting, I am in no rush to visit it again.

    Took a brief walk in the lovely Redwood forest just out of town, before driving to Paradise Springs. Paradise springs and Rainbow Springs both have a lot in common but offer slightly different experiences. The main differences is that Paradise Springs has a tree canopy walk and a lion enclosure (get to pat the cubs) while Rainbow springs has the Kiwi's and is open at night. While I enjoyed both, I feel Rainbow Springs probably offers the better experience for international tourist.

    One can not visit Rotorua without seeing a geothermal attraction. So I decided to visit Hells Gate because I have not been there before. The main attractions at Hells Gates is its mud pools, bubbling mud. Out of the main Rotorua geothermal parks I probably considered it the less interesting. Although it has nearly been 20 years since I seen Te Puia.

    Had one final trip to the Redwoods before driving over to Waitomo for the night.

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