AROUND THE WORLD WITH GARETH & SHELL travel blog

Taking photos of the locals

More David Bailey shots

The Whangarei Falls

Falls

Gareth on Pakiri Beach

Dolphins swimmimg by the boat in The Bay of Islands

'The Hole in the Rock', which we sailed through

Our swim and lunch stop

Captain Gareth

The twisted tree opposite our campsite in Haruru Falls, The Bay of...

The view of the falls from our car at low tide

Gareth swimming in the campsite pool

More Dolphins

Me at Cape Reinga

Me again

Amazing views of where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet

It is a long way home but I might make it back...

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

One of Gareth's specials

The coastline

90 Mile Beach

Gareth outside the Hamilton Temple

One of the dormant volcanoes and New Zealand's biggest ski resort in...

On the walk above the clouds

Gareth on the top of the volcano

The volcano

The Red Crater

The Emerald Lakes

Michelle having a rest

The Blue Lake

Us on top of the World

Having five

Us

Nearing the end of the walk

Hot mud pools at Rotorua

The Geysers

The heat and the smell is intense around the hot pools

Us at Rotorua

Maori carving

On the beach at Mt Maunganui

Beautiful view from our pitch, shame it's spoiled by that silly face!

Hot Water Beach

Me at Murawai Beach

Don't jump!!

Chillin on the sand

The opening Over

Brett Lee getting some deserved abuse from the home fans

Mexican wave on the terraces

We thought Tina had taken her zoom lens home


The plan for the next two weeks was to hire a car and travel the North Island. We hired a car that we could sleep in and just stayed at campsites along the way. We had a rough idea where we were heading but ended up going anywhere that looked nice in the guides. Our first stop was Whangarei, capital of the Northland. On the way there we stopped off for a break at Pakiri Beach. There wasn't too much to see in Whangarei except for the waterfalls which were lovely. The campsite we stayed at was very well equipped with kitchen, pool, hot tub, BBQ area and a cosy lounge. As we later found out this was the norm for campsites in New Zealand, it's nothing like the field you get in England.

We then headed North to our next stop which was the Bay of Islands. We decided to stay for a couple of days as there was a lot to do. We stayed in a great place called Haruru Falls, our pitch was on the river bank looking across to the Falls, the scenery was gorgeous. Whilst in the Bay we went on a day long boat trip which travelled round the Islands. We saw lots of dolphins and a whale very briefly, we stopped for lunch in a small cove and did a bit of swimming.

Our next stop was the north point of the Island, Cape Reigna. When we arrived at the campsite in Waitiki Landing, just south of the Cape, we thought it was strange that it was empty, by the end of the evening it was clear to see why with the swarms of mosquitos everywhere! We woke up in the morning with our worst mosquito bites yet. The views from the Cape itself were spectacular. You can actually see where the Pacific meets the Tasman Sea and there is no land in sight anywhere, it's extremely vast. We looked down from the cliffs and saw a large school of dolphins and a bit later on a rather large shark which was worryingly close to the shoreline so we decided not to go swimming.

Heading back south we made a brief stop at the beginning of 90 Mile Beach then headed back through Auckland towards Hamilton. We stayed overnight in Hamilton then went to see some friends of the Whitehouse's who had recently emigrated to New Zealand.

We then carried on south to Waitomo and it's famous caves. We took a tour around the Glowworm Caves which were amazing. They are full of stalactites and stalagmites which are thousands of years old. We took a boat on an underground river in the pitch black to see the Glowworms. This was a very rare sight as they are unique to New Zealand, the only bad point was we weren't allowed to take any photos so you'll have to guess how good it was.

The next day we headed down to The Tongariro National Park. It is New Zealands oldest national park and a World Heritage area, also very sacred to Maori. It had the most spectacular scenery we had seen since leaving the mountains in Peru in December. The majority of it is made up of Volcanoes which are still active. There were several walks you could do , we chose to do the day long Tongariro Crossing. It is 17km trek over steep volcanic terrain and was very tough but the views made it very worthwhile. It took about eight hours and lived up to it's reputation as New Zealands best one day walk.

Next stop was Rotorua via Lake Taupo, again the scenery was very beautiful. Rotorua was Ok apart from the strong smell of sulphur coming from the numerous hot springs and thermal geysers. We went to see some active geysers and took a guided tour round a Maori village.

Our next stop was up to Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty. It was a really nice town with a great beach so we spent the day there topping up our tans.

We then went up the Coromandel Penninsula and stayed in Whangamata. We had some lovely views from the campsite with horses running round the field next to us. We then went on to Hot Water Beach in Mercury Bay where you can dig yourself a hole in the sand and have your own hot bath. We then drove round the other side of the Penninsula and made our way to Thames. It was here in Thames we decided to go to Fiji, so we booked a few days on an Island called Beachcomber, part of the Mamanuka Islands...anyway we were coming to the end of our couple of weeks camping and needed to be back in Auckland for the 26th as we had booked to go to the One Day International Cricket Match between New Zealand and Australia. Before we got to Auckland we stopped at a lovely place called Murawai Beach. It was a big beach with lots of surfers and lovely views. It did smell a bit funny up by the cliffs as there is a huge Gannet colony living there...we got pooed on from a great height!!

Well, the trip around the North Island was brilliant! The views and the scenery are breathtaking, even when you are driving along the roads, you literally turn a corner and are faced with spectacular hills , forests and stunning coastline. We also saw such a mix of wildlife and plants, including loads of birds of prey and even wild parrots! It is easy to get around, the roads are all easy to follow and there are really scenic coast roads we took. The campsites are amazing and of really high quality almost always coming with large outdoor swimming pools and top class facilities. The people are really friendly, helpful and welcoming. We enjoyed every minute and is definately somewhere we will come back to.

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