New Zealand Travel Guide – Every place worth visiting

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.

Day 1 – Auckland to Paihia
Day 2 – Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga

Day 1 – Auckland to Paihia

1.We arrived at Auckland airport on 18th Dec and were fortunate to witness a Maori haka at the airpport itself

We arrived at Auckland airport on 18th Dec 2012 and were fortunate to witness a Maori haka at the airpport itself.

2 A weta workshop dwarf statue at Auckland airport, inspired by Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit'

A weta workshop dwarf statue at Auckland airport, inspired by Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’.

3 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 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.

4 There was a slight drizzle as we began the journey to Paihia

There was a slight drizzle as we began the journey to Paihia.

5 Toll road - payment via internet within the next 5 days

Toll road – payment via internet within the next 5 days.

6 One way tunnel on the toll section of State Highway1

One way tunnel on the toll section of State Highway1

7 The drizzle became a heavy downpour....

The drizzle became a heavy downpour….

8 ..and when the skies cleared...

..and when the skies cleared…

9 we saw a beautiful rainbow! Our holiday was off to a good start!

We saw a beautiful rainbow! Our holiday was off to a good start!

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After a while, it began to rain again

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The rain continued steadily

 

10

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.

11 We decided to skip it, but I was disappointed at having missed our first chance at caveing and possibly seeing gloworms

We decided to skip it, but I was disappointed at having missed our first chance at caveing and possibly seeing gloworms

12 We moved on to our next planned walk - at A.H. Reed memorial Kauri park

We moved on to our next planned walk – at A.H. Reed memorial Kauri park

13 Onto Whangarei falls, the most photogenic falls in the North Island

Onto Whangarei falls, the most photogenic falls in the North Island.

14 The falls were beautiful.

The falls were beautiful.

15 Next stop - Waro limestone scenic reserve

Next stop – Waro limestone scenic reserve.

16 One of the best examples of a limestone landscape in the North Island

One of the best examples of a limestone landscape in the North Island.

17 The weathering and erosion of the rocks has created many interesting formations

The weathering and erosion of the rocks has created many interesting formations

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As we drove on, the skies cleared up again

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8PM and the sun is still shining

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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.

19 Would you call this cloud lining silver or golden

Would you call this cloud lining silver or golden?

20 A mildly curious cow

A mildly curious cow

21 The small town of Kawakawa..

The small town of Kawakawa..

22 where a train track runs in the middle of the road....

..where a train track runs in the middle of the road….

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..and the toilets have been designed by a world famous architect, the late Hundertwasser. Note the tree growing through the roof.

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There is another building across the road, near the Trainspotter cafe, with a similar style

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Don’t miss the vegetation on the roof

24 We left Kawakawa and headed for our final destination, the Averill Court Motel, Paihia

We left Kawakawa and headed for our final destination, the Averill Court Motel, Paihia.

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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.

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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.

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After collecting our pizza, went for a long, leisurely walk on the beach

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We returned to our motel room and finished our pizza, it was delicious.

Day 2 – Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga

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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.

2 The site where the treaty was signed between the British and the Maori is marked by a flagstaff

The site where the treaty was signed between the British and the Maori is marked by a flagstaff.

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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.

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Treaty House, originally named ‘The Residency’ was built for the first British resident, James Busby, and his family.

5 Sundial in the treaty house garden

Sundial in the treaty house garden.

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‘Te Whare Runanga’ is a carved Maori meeting house erected to commemorate the centenary of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

7 Maori meeting house

Maori meeting house.

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Carvings in the house were produced by the local Ngapuhi tribe, though the building is representative of all Māori tribes.

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This tree was planted a year before my father was born –of course I had to take a photo!

8 Ngatokimatawhaorua - the world's largest ceremonial war canoe

Ngatokimatawhaorua – the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe.

 

 

 

9 he stump of the kauri tree from which the bow and stern sections of the waka(war canoe) were fashioned

The stump of the kauri tree from which the bow and stern sections of the waka (war canoe) were fashioned.

10 The war canoe is launched on Waitangi day along the tracks shown, and requires 80 paddlers

The war canoe is launched on Waitangi day along the tracks shown, and requires 80 paddlers.

11 Hobison's beach

Hobison’s beach.

12 Replica of a Maori fishing village

Replica of a Maori fishing village.

2

Food storage areas, cooking area and sleeping hut

13 All set for the Mack Attack cruise of the Bay of Islands

All set for the Mack Attack cruise of the Bay of Islands.

14 Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse.

3

Approaching the Hole in the Rock

15 We went into the Cathedral cave

We went into the Cathedral cave

16 through the Hole in the Rock

and through the Hole in the Rock.

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On the way back, we encountered several dolphins

17 Dolphins swam close to the boat

Any closer, ad this one could have jumped into the boat!

18 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

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.

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I was getting burnt by the direct sunlight, and Amit was feeling queasy with the rocking of the boat, though he tried not to show it. Our real concern however was that a major delay would upset our plan of travelling to Cape Reinga today
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Finally, the owner Richard arrived with fuel

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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.

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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.

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So while he rested, I roamed around and took a few photos – the beach with Pohutakawas in bloom (a.k.a. NZ christmas tree)

21 St. Paul's Anglican Church..

St. Paul’s Anglican Church..

22 stunning stained glass windows

…with its stunning stained glass windows…

23 ..and this interesting sign on the door!

..and this interesting sign on the door!

24 The toilets again - not my fault- blame the Kiwis for having clean, well-constructed public toilets at most places...

The toilets again – not my fault- blame the Kiwis for having clean, well-constructed public toilets at most places…

8

By this time, Amit had recovered and we made our way to the Haruru falls

25 Haruru Falls, which means Big Noise, they did create quite a roar

Haruru means Big Noise, they did create quite a roar.

26 Notice the unusual horse-shoe shape, similar to the Niagara falls

Notice the unusual horse-shoe shape, similar to the Niagara falls.

27At Kerikeri - the Stone Store, the oldest stone building in NZ

At Kerikeri – the Stone Store, the oldest stone building in NZ.

28 Nearby is the Kemp House, the oldest surviving wooden building in NZ

Nearby is the Kemp House, the oldest surviving wooden building in NZ.

29 We stopped to sample the world famous fish and chips at Mangonui

We stopped to sample the world famous fish and chips at Mangonui.

30 As an added bonus, we could admire the scenery while eating

As an added bonus, we could admire the scenery while eating.

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Delicious

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Ready to fly?

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Not really, just looking for food near the fish shop.

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We headed North again

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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.

32

Cape Maria van Diemen and the Three Kings Islands are the only two places retaining the names given by Abel Tasman.

33. te Werahi beach and Cape Maria van Diemen

The Werahi beach and Cape Maria van Diemen.

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Notice the tenacious tree behind me.

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37 The tenacious tree is more than 800 yrs old

It is more than 800 yrs old.

38. The turbulence created by the meeting of the Pacific ocean with the Tasman Sea

The turbulence created by the meeting of the Pacific ocean with the Tasman Sea

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Pacific east, and Tasman west.

39 Cape Reinga lighthouse

Cape Reinga lighthouse.

40 Searched in vain for New Delhi

Searched in vain for New Delhi.

41 Never mind, we always know in our hearts where Delhi is

Never mind, we always know in our hearts where Delhi is.

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Plan to reach Bluff before the year ends

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1

Grey clouds suddenly appeared

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Cape Maria van Diemen was quickly shrouded in mist

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We posted a few cards before leaving.

 Day 3

Hokianga, Koutu boulders, Waipoua Forest, and Auckland

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Woke up to this interesting sight. People do love their exercise

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I’d been looking forward to seeing the statue of Opo the friendly dolphin, but it wasn’t there

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We checked out of the Opononi hotel and made our way to the beach to have a look at the Koutu boulders

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Koutu boulders are concretions, formed by mineral precipitation around a central core.

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They are mostly spherical or ovoid.

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Amit was tempted to try and kick this small one out to sea…

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This one looked like it had been sliced through

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A few have split open, revealing the inner core

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Some of the larger ones are irregular

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Some have broken up into smaller pieces, allowing people to indulge their sense of humour

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This sign seemed particularly appropriate…

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..until we looked down as saw the actual whale-like rocks and the broken off stump where the sign had originally been put up

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Saw lots of crabs as well

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South head of Hokianga harbour

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fantastic views of the Tasman sea and the sand dunes on the North head

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The path down to the beach

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Labyrinth woodworks and maze

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We were fortunate to meet Louis Toorenberg, puzzle designer and collector. He showed us some of his favourite puzzles in his museum.

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Amit bought a few of his amazing puzzles.

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Waipoua forest – dense Kauri forest, we saw Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest

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Two tall straight kauri trees creating a natural gateway

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Tokatoka peak – it’s the plug of an extinct volcano – the walls have eroded, leaving the solidified inner core

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NZ version of signs on the backs of trucks

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National Bank

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Honey Centre

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Auckland Sky Tower

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The Ferry Building

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Sky Tower

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I have a fear of heights and was content to sit on the bench

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Amit encouraged me to stand near the glass

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I understood later why he made me stand in this particular place for the photo – see the cricket pitch below

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We roamed around Queen Street before calling it a day

NZ4

Auckland & Rotorua

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One tree hill summit

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It is a volcanic peak, part of the dormant Auckland volcanic field

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View from the summit

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We met Mini, Ajay & Aman at Auckland Airport.

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Tirau – “Corrugated Iron Capital of New Zealand”

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The Giant Dog, visitor information centre

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The Big Sheep

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Saw this peaceful wooded area by the side of the road – a memorial to ancestral owners of the land

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Rotorua skyline gondola..

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..and luge

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Chairlift for luge

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Amit & Aman went again on the advanced route

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I admired the view from the top

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St. Faiths Anglican Church and Ohinemutu village – boiling water bubbling up through the paving stones

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Ohinemutu Maori settlement marae (assembly place)

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intricate wood carving

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The shiny pieces are inlaid paua shells, native to NZ

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The church doors were locked, but we roamed the grounds

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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.

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Stained glass windows and carved wooden panels

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Lake Rotorua

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Saw black swans for the first time

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Also saw what I thought was a pukeko on the rock behind me

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The abundant geothermal activity has created some very interesting colours and formations

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Rotorua Government Gardens. The old Bath House building has been converted into the Rotorua Museum

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A statue on the grounds

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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.

 

NZ5

White Island Volcano tour & Taupo

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White Island volcano tour in the Bay of Plenty

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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)

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The helmet is mandatory for visiting White Island

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The only active marine volcano in New Zealand

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NZ alert levels for volcanoes range from 0 to 5

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The day we visited White Island it was at level 2( minor eruptive activity)

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sulfurous fumerole

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The central crater

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A small pool of sickly green sulphuric acid is all that can be seen of the crater lake

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There are two hot springs with slightly different tasting waters

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Aman wasn’t too impressed with the first

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I thought the second one tasted very nice – a strong lemon/citrus flavour

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Remains of a sulphur mining factory – corroded by the toxic atmosphere

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Two major attempts were made to mine sulphur in the early 20th century – the first attempt failed because an eruption killed all the miners

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The second attempt was abandoned after some time because the yield was not high enough to be financially viable

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Surprisingly the tyres have survived

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Very few plants grow in this environment, e.g. ice plant

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The plants even produce flowers

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Gannet colonies flourish on the outer wall

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One last look…..

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We saw dolphins on the way back

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Visited Muriwai’s cave

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Gorse covered mound on the way to Taupo

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Huka falls on the Waikato river

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The volume of water(upto 220,000litres per second) is what makes these falls impressive

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Huka falls from another lookout point

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Relaxing at Falls chateau

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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

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Garden of Falls Chateau

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Mini and I had a quick photo session before leaving

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Leaving Lake Taupo, the largest lake in NZ

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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

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Mt. Ruapehu is the largest active volcano in NZ, but we were in Happy Valley, not the crater

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Sledding in Happy Valley, a beginners’ area on Mt. Ruapehu

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Amit was the first to try it and crashed into a rock

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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

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The climb back up was fairly strenuous

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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:))

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I did it again, better this time. I wanted to slide more times, but the climb back up was too tiring

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Exhausted but happy

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A bright, clear day

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Mini’s idea – she always has very good suggestions for photos

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While we had a coffee at the highest cafe in NZ….

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Grey clouds appeared in the sky – compare this with my photo standing in the same spot and one can clearly see how quickly the weather can change

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Time to leave

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Raukawa falls

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I saw some people plucking these fruits and mentioned it to Mini

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She took the initiative and found out they were plums, and then it becme a family enterprise to pluck them…

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The ‘fruits’ of their labours were very tasty!

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Durie Hill elevator, the only earthbound elevator in NZ

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Durie Hill tower

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In the elevator

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The tunnel at the bottom

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Drove by this piano suspended in a field – it was an advertisement for something

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Then we came to the ‘unforget-a-bull’ town of Bulls

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I found their signs quite ador-a-bull

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My personal favourite

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de Molen windmill

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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

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Is the old pink car really a part of the dividing wall?

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Wellington – The Embassy Theatre where ‘The Hobbit’ premiered in Nov 2012

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St. Gerard’s monastery

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Red Rocks

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The Lighthouse where Amit and I stayed

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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 🙂

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Amit admiring the view

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Our neighbours with the boat and the horses

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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

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Dinner at the keep

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followed by some peaceful time in our sitting room at the top of the lighthouse, listening to the waves

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