04.12.2007 - 13.12.2007 24 °C
We left Kaikoura and headed towards Picton, we decided that we would break our journey overnight at Blenheim. Our ferry wasn’t until lunchtime the next day, and Blenheim was only 25km from Picton, so we would have plenty of time to get there. . We found a lovely campsite and pitched up on a spot right by the river.
The weather was quite bad in the night and we woke up to a really windy morning. We heard on the radio news that the wind had blown the Picton Harbour Christmas Tree down, and when we got to Picton we discovered that it was a metal tree and it had actually snapped in half. Some workmen with a crane and a cherry picker were trying to sort out the tree so that it wouldn’t do any more damage than it had done already. The wind was so strong, we thought we wouldn’t be leaving Picton that afternoon, but the ferry did manage to get out of the harbour without any problems. We got in the ferry queue and didn’t have long to wait to board. We found seats right at the back of the ferry by some large windows in an area called “The Lookout”. We knew it would be a bit smoother at the rear. It was a pretty rough crossing and lots of people were quite ill. I wasn’t too chipper either! There was a bit of excitement to take our minds of the rough crossing. Our ferry was used in a New Zealand Police exercise. We had a Police Patrol Boat following us for a while and then suddenly a helicopter appeared out of nowhere and a couple of policemen with guns were winched onto the ferry from the helicopter. All exciting stuff! We arrived late at Wellington, right in the middle of rush hour which was a bit of a nightmare. We eventually found our campsite and set up for the evening.
The next day we left for Napier fairly early as it was a long drive. It rained all the way. Napier is a nice town with a lot of Art Deco buildings. In 1931 Napier was a victim of a tremendous earthquake and ensuing fire. The town was flattened and had to be rebuilt. As it was the 1930s all the new buildings were built in the style of the time. It’s like a real live Art Deco Museum. Unfortunately modern shop canopies built over the main entrances have obscured some of the architecture at ground level, but if you look up to the second floors everything is the same as it was in the 1930s. We walked round in the pouring rain looking at all the wonderful buildings and would have taken more photos had it not been so rainy.
Our next stop was going to be Lake Taupo, but the weather was so miserable, we carried on to Rotorua and it’s hot springs, geysers, sulphur smelling air and, yes you guessed it, rain. We arrived just after lunch and after setting up we went for a walk, in the rain, to the local gardens where we discovered hot springs and bubbling geysers. In the gardens there were springs where you could sit down and dangle your feet in the water. Steve was brave enough to do this and said his feet felt lovely afterwards!! We also walked round part of the lake and in places even that was bubbling. The lake is home to loads of seabirds, but as the water is quite acidic, they have all lost most of the webbing between their feet! Apparently it’s nesting time at the moment, and we got attacked by several angry Seagulls. They must have been afraid that we were going to harm their nests.
After Rotorua we headed for the coast and ended up at a campsite at the base of Mount Maunganui, which is a historic Maori site. The Mountain is at the end of a causeway and is surrounded by sea on three sides. We went for a lovely walk around the base of the mountain and also walked up to the top. The view was quite spectacular, despite the mist! The campsite was great, but quite noisy with the sound of huge waves crashing onto the beach.
We woke up early and set off further up the coast towards the Coromandel peninsula. The drive was amazing, steep windy roads with stunning scenery at every turn. We stopped for lunch at a place called Hot Water Beach. There are two hot springs right underneath the sand. If you dig a hole in the wet sand when the tide is low, it fills up with hot water! It was really weird walking on very hot sand! After lunch we headed for Hahei and found another lovely campsite right on the beach. There was a small pod of Dolphins about 10 yards off the shore and we watched them for ages. The scenery in this part of New Zealand is really breathtaking. We went for a long walk along the coast, rugged beaches on one side and rain forest on the other. We are really glad that we altered our itinerary so that we could see more of this beautiful country. We are staying for the next two nights at Shelly Beach, a little cove near the top of the peninsula. We head off on Saturday towards Auckland and we hope to spend some time in the bay of islands, before catching our plane to Fiji next Friday.
Love to everybody. See you in 3 weeks!!!!!!!!