February 20th, 2007 – by: coffeefairy
Cape Reinga lighthouse
On February 16th, I went straight from work to Changi airport to catch my flight going down under (way more down under than Australia, dude :). Ten hours later, I was looking out from the window beside my seat and I was already amazed at how New Zealand looked from a bird's eye view.
New Zealand is divided into two major islands, the North island and South island. Our plan was to take the up-to-the-North-then-down-by-the-West route starting from Auckland.
Day 1: Kia ora!* The perfect way of getting to know New Zealand (see the red arrow in the map)
From Auckland airport, we went to missy G-clef's house and met up with Beth. Two hours later we were on the bus going to the Bay of Islands.
Four hours later we checked in to Peppertree lodge. We were given room 13 (hmm..I wondered if that was a good sign or bad sign, hehehe.) Since it was almost evening we looked for something to spend the night with and decided to watch the cultural show at 7pm in Waitangi. It was a great start of my New Zealand experience, as the cultural show oriented me with the history of New Zealand. Now I know that the first settlers of New Zealand were polynesians, called Maoris, and then the British came in the 1800s. So today the New Zealander people, or Kiwis as they refer to themselves, are composed of the native Maori, the polynesians, and the British Kiwis. We ended the night with our stomachs full from missy G-clef's very delicious cornedbeef pasta (yum yum!)
Embracing the beauty of NZ
Day 2: The Dune Rider experience (see the green arrow in the map)
This day we were to have the Dune Rider day trip tour of the Northland.
What we knew was that we will be picked up by 7:30am so we woke up at a few minutes before 7am, only to find out that the tour guide was already there at 7am and was looking for us! So we just grabbed our things, and just went up the truck without having been able to actually freshen up for the morning. I had no idea what this tour was, missy G-clef didn't give me the details so I had no expectations and oh boy, little did I know that I was to be in one of the greatest tours of my life. We were with around 20 other people, composed of Germans, Brits, Australians and Spanish. We were the only Asians in our group. The tour guide/driver introduced himself as Spike. While he drove, he did the narrating as well, how cool is that!
From the Bay of Islands, we went up further to the North. First stop after having breakfast at a local restaurant, was at Manginangina Kauri Walk, a reserve of Kauri trees. Kauri trees are one of the biggest trees in the world. They are now protected trees in New Zealand because they are endangered. After a brief walk around the forest, we headed on and drove a few hours going up to Cape Reinga, the northest tip of the North island where the Tasman Sea and Northern Pacific Ocean meets. It is a sacred place for the Maoris, because they believe that this was where the spirits of departed Maoris go.
Indeed it was a very serene and magnificent place. The sights are just simply tantalizing. Next we went down at a nearby beach where we had a break and were given the time to eat our lunch and have a quick swim in the beach for those who wanted to. Then we headed further on to our next cool stop (see the upcoming irony here..) -- sand surfing! Oh yes, I couldn't believe that New Zealand had sand dunes and I was so thrilled to do my first sandboard surfing. Walking up to the top carrying your surf board was a struggle for me, but it was all worth it when you slide down the slope head on. I managed to stay on the board half way thru the ride but half way thru the end I went tumbling down like a rolling ball, ahehehe. It was a fabulous experience! Then after sand surfing, we drove going down by a long stretch of beach called 90 mile beach (although in realityit is just 64 miles long). We stopped briefly to get some seashells which we ate instantly and surprisingly, for a raw state, it tasted really, really good! (better than oyster I tell you!) The 90 mile beach is known also for having wild horses in the land across it, although we were not lucky enough that day to have a glipmse of them. Then we went on and drove down and stopped at a souvenir shop then at a restaurant beside a harbour and we ate of course, yummy fish and chips (fries) and made a last quick stop in front of one orange farm in Kerikeri (place in NZ known for having lots of orchards of citrus fruits) for those who wanted to buy some fruits.
Finally, at around 7pm we were back in our lodge. We spent the rest of the night at an Irish bar across Peppertree lodge with Elena, an Italian backpacker that we shared our room with. What a fantastic day! Sweet as! ;o)
Cape Reinga, the northest tip of New Zealand
Day 3: The start of a marvelous road trip and camping (see the pink arrow in the map)
We started the morning by having a hearty breakfast - one loaf of toasted sliced bread, one pack of bacon and 6 eggs.
Yes, a big breakfast could be an understatement. The two German guys on the next table told us they were so surprised to see the food at our table and was wondering how could 3 girls could eat all of it while two big guys like them were just eating bread and jam. (well, had they known about Filipinos' love for eating that should've explain it, hehehe). It was our last day in Peppertree lodge. We rented a car and missy would be driving us from the Bay of Islands going to the West and down. We stopped first at the historical place of Waitangi again to go around the place. Then we drove down down down to Opononi and Omapere where we had a spectacular view of the Hokianga Harbour. We camped out with our tent at a camping area across the beach in Opononi. It was another whole new experience for me. Our plan was to have some drinks on the beach side while watching the sunset but because we have forgotten to bring a flashlight and it took us a while to cook our dinner, this didn't happen. The sun seemed to have set so fast but it was ok, we still had a fun fun night eating another hearty dinner because besides for our fried chicken, we also cooked and ate some fresh mussels which were given to us by two camper Hungarian guys who went fishing that afternoon.
Day 4: The unexpected highlight of the road trip (see the purple arrow in the map)
Before mid day, we got ready to start the long road trip going back to Auckland.
A few meters from the camp site there was a sign with an arrow pointing to the right of the road which says, "scenic view". We decided to check it out and we were amazed at what we've discovered -- indeed a marvelous view of the Hokianga Harbour. We went down to the beach (together with 2 senior American couples we met there) and was just hypnotized at the beautyof waves splashing on the rocks in front of us. And so we stayed at the place longer than we expected. After realizing we had enough basking in the sun, admiring the beauty of the New Zealand Northland, we headed on to continue our road trip. After around an hour's drive down, we stopped at Waipoua Forest where Tane Mahuta was located. Tane Mahuta is the oldest and largest existing Kauri tree in the world, dating to about 2,000 years old and measuring a girth of 13.77 m (45.2 feet) and a trunk height of 17.68 m (58.0 feet). Such a wonder how this tree could live so long, withstanding all the storms and earthquakes for centuries. After consuming our packed lunch and an icecream for dessert, we continued our journey. After an hour or two's drive Missy G-clef said she wanted to have a quick stop at a waterfalls or any body of water so we tried to look for a waterfalls along the way. We didn't find any waterfalls but we did find a sign that says Lake Kai-iwi if we turn right.
different shades of green
So we did, and followed the long road leading to this lake. When we got there we saw a couple just going up from the lake. They said they had a swim and told us the water was perfect for swimming. So we went down to the lake and found ourselves to be the only ones there. We went in the water, and indeed it was perfect to take a dip, too perfect that we decided to do the unimaginable -- skinny dip!!!! Oh yes, we did it in broad daylight! We took off all our clothes while inside the water and just enjoyed the place like it was ours. A first time for all of us and Missy, Beth and me all agree that it was the highlight of our road trip. The perfect highlight to conclude our adventure. The travel from Lake Kai-iwi to Auckland would take around 4 more hours so halfway through, we stopped at Dargaville to have a quick coffee -- on the roadside beside the river, literally. We sat on the ledge that divided the road from the river, drinking our coffee and eating hotdog in waffle. Maybe people driving by probably wondered if we were suicidal...hmm, not really because the brown water from the big river was not that inviting, hehehe. So finally, we got back in Auckland in the evening. I had my first view of Auckland skyline at night, with all the tall buildings and the Skytower shining brightly in red. We concluded the night with a fish and chips dinner along Mission Bay.
i love flowers!!!
Ah yes, now I'm about to see the City of Sails....
sunset at Omapere
*Kia Ora is the Maori greeting for hello or good day