We're on our way home!!!
14.12.2007 - 23.12.2007
View The Grand Tour on steve-les's travel map.
We liked this part of the Coromandels so much, that we decided to stay a couple of nights. On Friday morning we went for a drive to the nearby town of Colville. We couldn't go any further up the Peninsula because it was a condition of our car rental agreement. This was because the road wasn't suitable. It didn't matter to us because Colville was a lovely spot, right by the sea, so we parked up and once again we put the kettle on! It's great carrying your own stove top!! After lunch we went back to the campsite and did a local walk along the beach. The tide was a long way out, exposing hundreds of Rock Oysters. Steve had his handy multi tool with him, so he was picking and eating them as he went along. I had two as I'm not a great lover of raw oysters. We met some nice people at Shelly Beach. Joe and Shirley, a couple of Kiwi Californians, who were visiting their homeland, and Marie and Dave, a British couple who were on their holiday. The Coromandel Peninsula was a truly lovely place and we were sorry to leave.
Saturday saw us make an early start as we wanted to get to the other side of Auckland before stopping somewhere for the night, to break the long journey to Russell. On the way we decided to rough camp and spied a DOC site about 37km north of Auckland called Uretiti Beach. This site was slightly swishier than the other conservation sites we have stayed on. It had running water (from a tap), flush toilets and a shower, albeit cold!! It was set in the dunes adjacent to a lovely 22km long golden beach (for a change).
We were warned that the road to Russell was a bit of a long old haul on a very winding road, so we opted for the ferry. It reminded me of the Fowey to Bodnnick ferry. At the other side of the water we had a 10km drive to the picturesque town of Russell. We set up camp and then walked a short distance to a long beach and just lazed in the sun for the afternoon. The next morning we walked round a bit of the coastline in the local area. We visited Flagstaff Hill, a place of some significance. In the 1800s the British placed a massive flagstaff on the hill, which the Maoris proceeded to chop down. It was actually replaced and chopped down a total of four times! On Tuesday we went for a drive further round the coast of the Bay of Islands. We parked the camper and took the footpath to an old whaling station. The walk was a bit hard going in places and took us an hour and a half, but it was well worth it. The whaling station closed down many years ago but the derelict buildings, slipway and massive boiler were still there. Steve had a great old time. He went for a swim before lunch and then spent the afternoon ferreting around the station, scrambling through the derelict buildings and checking out the old steam boiler. I just took it easy on the beach. We didn't see anyone else the whole day! When we decided to leave we realised that we had been cut off by the tide, but we had a bit of a laugh trying to get round the rocks through the water to get back to the path.
On Wednesday, we packed up, and headed south to Auckland, the last place on our itinerary. Auckland is a bit of a nightmare place to drive in, but the navigator did well and found our campsite without any trouble. Who said women couldn't read maps???? We booked into a cabin for two nights as we wanted to give the camper a bit of clean inside and outside before we took it back to the rental company (and after five weeks of sleeping in it, we thought we deserved a bit of luxury). On Thursday we caught the local bus into Auckland for a bit of a mooch around. We visited the Sky Tower, but didn't attempt any of the daredevil stunts. It made us giddy just looking up at it! During the evening there was a bit of an earthquake (6.8 on the Richter Scale) near the coastal town of Gisborne. Quite a few buildings were damaged and it said on the news that the tremors could be felt in South Auckland. We were in South Auckland and didn't feel a thing. Must have been the wine!!
On Friday morning we returned the camper to the rental company and went to the Airport to catch the plane to Fiji. We had a fairly good flight but a lously landing at Nadi Airport. The plane literally bounced up the runway. Once we cleared immigration we went to our hotel to find, yet again, we had been upgraded. This seems to be following a pattern, but we're not complaining. The weather in Fiji is very wet, however it is very warm. Last night we had a barbeque buffet at the hotel and were treated to a traditional Fijian Meke, a performance of Fijian music, song and dance.
We have decided to cancel Hawaii and head straight home. This is due to a family matter which we feel we should be home for. We actually leave Fiji this evening and arrive in London at midday on Christmas Eve, a few days earlier than planned, but we will be home for Christmas.
This is almost the end of what has been a fantastic trip with loads of high points and one or two low points. It's back to reality now and as soon as Christmas is out of the way, we need to start earning to keep the Bank Manager happy!!!!
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read our blog and for the comments that you have added to it. We will try and to see you all in the New Year and bore you with the photographs.
Have a wonderful Christmas
Lesley and Steve