New Zealand is paradise on earth. It boasts of an active marine volcano, glaciers, rain forests, flightless birds, and the absence of snakes! It is the Adventure Capital of the world. If you want to Bungy Jump, this is where it all began. From white water rafting to skydiving, this is the place you want to be in. We have tried to cover each and every place that is captivating and beyond description. See it for yourself. Since it’s extensive, it will be uploaded over a period of time.
We arrived at Auckland airport on 18th Dec 2012 and were fortunate to witness a Maori haka at the airpport itself.
A weta workshop dwarf statue at Auckland airport, inspired by Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’.
There was some confusion about the vehicle we’d hired over the internet, but we were ultimately quite satisfied with the Highlander we received – thank you Thrifty.
There was a slight drizzle as we began the journey to Paihia.
Toll road – payment via internet within the next 5 days.
One way tunnel on the toll section of State Highway1
The drizzle became a heavy downpour….
..and when the skies cleared…
We saw a beautiful rainbow! Our holiday was off to a good start!
After a while, it began to rain again
The rain continued steadily
We had planned to explore the Abey Caves enroute, but when we reached there the helpful lady at The Little Earth Lodge gave us a map with the warning that the water in the caves would be almost waist high due to the recent heavy rains and it would take about 2hrs to make the trip.
We decided to skip it, but I was disappointed at having missed our first chance at caveing and possibly seeing gloworms
We moved on to our next planned walk – at A.H. Reed memorial Kauri park
Onto Whangarei falls, the most photogenic falls in the North Island.
The falls were beautiful.
Next stop – Waro limestone scenic reserve.
One of the best examples of a limestone landscape in the North Island.
The weathering and erosion of the rocks has created many interesting formations
As we drove on, the skies cleared up again
8PM and the sun is still shining
We then proceeded to ruapekapeka pa, a Maori fortified area,one of the largest and most complex, specially designed to ward off British cannon attacks.
Would you call this cloud lining silver or golden?
A mildly curious cow
The small town of Kawakawa..
..where a train track runs in the middle of the road….
..and the toilets have been designed by a world famous architect, the late Hundertwasser. Note the tree growing through the roof.
There is another building across the road, near the Trainspotter cafe, with a similar style
Don’t miss the vegetation on the roof
We left Kawakawa and headed for our final destination, the Averill Court Motel, Paihia.
We checked in and went out for dinner, only to find out that most of the restaurants had already closed. One very nice lady agreed to make us a large pizza, though they were already closing up.
I spent awhile watching in fascination as the beautiful shades of lighting kept changing until Amit asked me to stop staring at the -ahem- public toilets.
After collecting our pizza, went for a long, leisurely walk on the beach
We returned to our motel room and finished our pizza, it was delicious.
We started the day with a visit to the Waitangi treaty grounds,The Birthplace of the Nation, as the treaty of Waitangi was signed here on 6th Feb, 1840.
The site where the treaty was signed between the British and the Maori is marked by a flagstaff.
In 1932, the grounds where the Treaty was first signed were gifted to the nation in trust by Lord and Lady Bledisloe. Lord Bledisloe was a former Governor General of New Zealand.
Treaty House, originally named ‘The Residency’ was built for the first British resident, James Busby, and his family.
Sundial in the treaty house garden.
‘Te Whare Runanga’ is a carved Maori meeting house erected to commemorate the centenary of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Maori meeting house.
Carvings in the house were produced by the local Ngapuhi tribe, though the building is representative of all Māori tribes.
This tree was planted a year before my father was born –of course I had to take a photo!
Ngatokimatawhaorua – the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe.
The stump of the kauri tree from which the bow and stern sections of the waka (war canoe) were fashioned.
The war canoe is launched on Waitangi day along the tracks shown, and requires 80 paddlers.
Replica of a Maori fishing village.
All set for the Mack Attack cruise of the Bay of Islands.
Cape Brett Lighthouse.
Approaching the Hole in the Rock
We went into the Cathedral cave
and through the Hole in the Rock.
On the way back, we encountered several dolphins
Any closer, ad this one could have jumped into the boat!
It had been a perfect day so far, nothing could go wrong – or so we thought- until the skipper informed us we had run out of fuel.
After a quick refuel, we headed back to Paihia. Overall, it was a good experience, we had a lot of fun – but if you plan to cruise with Mack Attack, don’t be embarassed to ask about the fuel situation.
Back on dry land, Amit assured me we had time to make it to the Cape, but he needed to recover from his sea-sickness before driving.
So while he rested, I roamed around and took a few photos – the beach with Pohutakawas in bloom (a.k.a. NZ christmas tree)
St. Paul’s Anglican Church..
…with its stunning stained glass windows…
..and this interesting sign on the door!
The toilets again – not my fault- blame the Kiwis for having clean, well-constructed public toilets at most places…
By this time, Amit had recovered and we made our way to the Haruru falls
Haruru means Big Noise, they did create quite a roar.
Notice the unusual horse-shoe shape, similar to the Niagara falls.
At Kerikeri – the Stone Store, the oldest stone building in NZ.
Nearby is the Kemp House, the oldest surviving wooden building in NZ.
We stopped to sample the world famous fish and chips at Mangonui.
As an added bonus, we could admire the scenery while eating.
Ready to fly?
Not really, just looking for food near the fish shop.
We headed North again
Cape Reinga, the northernmost accessible point of NZ and the end of State Highway 1. The actual northernmost point is North Cape’s Surville Cliffs, but that is not open to the public.
Cape Maria van Diemen and the Three Kings Islands are the only two places retaining the names given by Abel Tasman.
The Werahi beach and Cape Maria van Diemen.
Notice the tenacious tree behind me.
It is more than 800 yrs old.
The turbulence created by the meeting of the Pacific ocean with the Tasman Sea
Pacific east, and Tasman west.
Cape Reinga lighthouse.
Searched in vain for New Delhi.
Never mind, we always know in our hearts where Delhi is.
Plan to reach Bluff before the year ends
Grey clouds suddenly appeared
Cape Maria van Diemen was quickly shrouded in mist
We posted a few cards before leaving.
Hokianga, Koutu boulders, Waipoua Forest, and Auckland
Woke up to this interesting sight. People do love their exercise
I’d been looking forward to seeing the statue of Opo the friendly dolphin, but it wasn’t there
We checked out of the Opononi hotel and made our way to the beach to have a look at the Koutu boulders
Koutu boulders are concretions, formed by mineral precipitation around a central core.
They are mostly spherical or ovoid.
Amit was tempted to try and kick this small one out to sea…
This one looked like it had been sliced through
A few have split open, revealing the inner core
Some of the larger ones are irregular
Some have broken up into smaller pieces, allowing people to indulge their sense of humour
This sign seemed particularly appropriate…
..until we looked down as saw the actual whale-like rocks and the broken off stump where the sign had originally been put up
Saw lots of crabs as well
South head of Hokianga harbour
fantastic views of the Tasman sea and the sand dunes on the North head
The path down to the beach
Labyrinth woodworks and maze
We were fortunate to meet Louis Toorenberg, puzzle designer and collector. He showed us some of his favourite puzzles in his museum.
Amit bought a few of his amazing puzzles.
Waipoua forest – dense Kauri forest, we saw Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest
Two tall straight kauri trees creating a natural gateway
Tokatoka peak – it’s the plug of an extinct volcano – the walls have eroded, leaving the solidified inner core
NZ version of signs on the backs of trucks
Auckland Sky Tower
The Ferry Building
I have a fear of heights and was content to sit on the bench
Amit encouraged me to stand near the glass
I understood later why he made me stand in this particular place for the photo – see the cricket pitch below
We roamed around Queen Street before calling it a day
Auckland & Rotorua
One tree hill summit
It is a volcanic peak, part of the dormant Auckland volcanic field
View from the summit
We met Mini, Ajay & Aman at Auckland Airport.
Tirau – “Corrugated Iron Capital of New Zealand”
The Giant Dog, visitor information centre
The Big Sheep
Saw this peaceful wooded area by the side of the road – a memorial to ancestral owners of the land
Rotorua skyline gondola..
Chairlift for luge
Amit & Aman went again on the advanced route
I admired the view from the top
St. Faiths Anglican Church and Ohinemutu village – boiling water bubbling up through the paving stones
Ohinemutu Maori settlement marae (assembly place)
intricate wood carving
The shiny pieces are inlaid paua shells, native to NZ
The church doors were locked, but we roamed the grounds
A glass window shows Jesus in a Maori cloak, and from inside the church He appears to be walking on the waters of Lake Rotorua.
Stained glass windows and carved wooden panels
Saw black swans for the first time
Also saw what I thought was a pukeko on the rock behind me
The abundant geothermal activity has created some very interesting colours and formations
Rotorua Government Gardens. The old Bath House building has been converted into the Rotorua Museum
A statue on the grounds
Named after Madame Rachel, a cosmetician who claimed the silica in the alkaline water was beneficial for the skin. The water is piped to the spa.
White Island Volcano tour & Taupo
White Island volcano tour in the Bay of Plenty
Lady Wairaka statue on Turuturu rock just off the coast -When their canoe started drifting back out to sea while all the men were on shore she is said to have saved it by grabbing a paddle and crying out ‘Kia whakatāne au i ahau!’ (I will act like a man)
The helmet is mandatory for visiting White Island
The only active marine volcano in New Zealand
NZ alert levels for volcanoes range from 0 to 5
The day we visited White Island it was at level 2( minor eruptive activity)
The central crater
A small pool of sickly green sulphuric acid is all that can be seen of the crater lake
There are two hot springs with slightly different tasting waters
Aman wasn’t too impressed with the first
I thought the second one tasted very nice – a strong lemon/citrus flavour
Remains of a sulphur mining factory – corroded by the toxic atmosphere
Two major attempts were made to mine sulphur in the early 20th century – the first attempt failed because an eruption killed all the miners
The second attempt was abandoned after some time because the yield was not high enough to be financially viable
Surprisingly the tyres have survived
Very few plants grow in this environment, e.g. ice plant
The plants even produce flowers
Gannet colonies flourish on the outer wall
One last look…..
We saw dolphins on the way back
Visited Muriwai’s cave
Gorse covered mound on the way to Taupo
Huka falls on the Waikato river
The volume of water(upto 220,000litres per second) is what makes these falls impressive
Huka falls from another lookout point
Relaxing at Falls chateau
Went out for dinner and couldn’t resist taking a photo of this fully loaded car
NZ6 – Lake Taupo, Tongariro, Bulls, Wellington – lighthouse&keep
Sunrise at Taupo
Garden of Falls Chateau
Mini and I had a quick photo session before leaving
Leaving Lake Taupo, the largest lake in NZ
Chairlift to Whakapapa skifield in Tongariro National Park on Mt. Ruapehu – a few of the scenes on the slopes of Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings were actually shot on the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu
Mt. Ruapehu is the largest active volcano in NZ, but we were in Happy Valley, not the crater
Sledding in Happy Valley, a beginners’ area on Mt. Ruapehu
Amit was the first to try it and crashed into a rock
I was next, and on the advice of a fellow sledder who appeared to be quite an expert, used my legs to steer and slow down. I did make it to the bottom, but rather ungracefully in fits and starts
The climb back up was fairly strenuous
Aman had the smoothest slide. Mini was good too, but there was a lot of screaming(videos are available on request after signing a confidentiality agreement:))
I did it again, better this time. I wanted to slide more times, but the climb back up was too tiring
Exhausted but happy
A bright, clear day
Mini’s idea – she always has very good suggestions for photos
While we had a coffee at the highest cafe in NZ….
Time to leave
I saw some people plucking these fruits and mentioned it to Mini
She took the initiative and found out they were plums, and then it becme a family enterprise to pluck them…
The ‘fruits’ of their labours were very tasty!
Durie Hill elevator, the only earthbound elevator in NZ
Durie Hill tower
In the elevator
The tunnel at the bottom
Drove by this piano suspended in a field – it was an advertisement for something
Then we came to the ‘unforget-a-bull’ town of Bulls
I found their signs quite ador-a-bull
My personal favourite
de Molen windmill
Flax stripper museum – I felt the signs were amusing, I hope others do too – esp. the way the word ‘flax’ has been peeled away from the sign at the bottom right
Is the old pink car really a part of the dividing wall?
Wellington – The Embassy Theatre where ‘The Hobbit’ premiered in Nov 2012
St. Gerard’s monastery
The Lighthouse where Amit and I stayed
I had to gloat – the background to this picture is that when we booked this place, the owner Bruce sent us a mail that he wouldn’t be there when we arrived but we’d find the key under the mat. Amit was highly skeptical and warned me that it would be my fault if we found no key and had to sleep in our car. Obviously I had to take a photo when we actuallly did find the key along with a very friendly note from Bruce 🙂
Amit admiring the view
Our neighbours with the boat and the horses
Bruce arrived and took us to The Keep, where Mini, Ajay and Aman would be staying. He informed us that this had been constructed from wood he grew himself and did not involve any chemical treatments
Dinner at the keep
followed by some peaceful time in our sitting room at the top of the lighthouse, listening to the waves
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