We toured the north of the North Island for two weeks in October 2009. Lots of driving and walking and finding nice places to eat.
We travelled from Auckland to The Bay of Islands, then to Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua and on to Napier. Final stop was Tauranga and Mt Manganui before meandering back to Auckland.
Thank you to a certain airline who offered us $90 seats and then upgraded us to business class – both ways. Pity the flight to New Zealand is so short!
A collection of photos is on Flickr, but I have also displayed thumbnails below.
01-Auckland – City Sky Tower, on Flickr.
Home of the City Sky Tower. It seems to be visible from every part of the city.
02-Auckland, on Flickr.
Cool, wet, lovely gardens and great harbour. Loved the night lights.
03-Waiheke Island, Auckland, on Flickr.
Waiheke Island in the Hauaki Gulf is a delightful and breezy 1 hour ferry ride from Auckland Harbour.
Famous for beaches (we walked one), wineries (we tried one) and scenic walks (we explored one).
04-Northland – travelling north, on Flickr.
We drove to the Bay of Islands via Puhoi, Orewa, Leigh, Raupo,and Waipoua Forest.
We counted sheep, cows and witches hats.
05-Bay of Islands – Haruru Falls Track, on Flickr.
Our first walk in the Bay of Islands was the Haruru Falls Track, taking us through a forest of ferns, a magnificent mangrove swamp and alongside the Waitangi River. Home via Mt Bledisloe and Waitangi golf course.
06-Paihia, on Flickr.
Paihia, downtown in the Bay of Islands. The harbour hosts many boat tours. There is no end to the tourist information desks and any extreme activity is available.
We also found decent coffee and good restaurants there.
07-Sailing On The Edge, on Flickr.
We sailed on the catamaran ‘On The Edge’ around the Bay of Islands.
Watched dolphins, lunch at Urupukapuka Island, Indigo Bay (aka Otiao Bay), then a walk in the very long grass.
08-Kerikeri, on Flickr.
Kerikeri Mission was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1819. It is a little north of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands.
09-Mount Bledisloe, on Flickr.
Named after Lord & Lady Bledisloe who purchased the estate of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for New Zealand. Mount Bledisloe looks over the grounds.
10-Waitangi Treaty Grounds, on Flickr.
Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, an agreement that Maori and non-Maori citizens live and work together.
11-Paihia Lookout, on Flickr.
Beautiful walk behind Paihia to the lookout over the Bay of Islands.
12-Russell, on Flickr.
Russell is a ferry ride from Paihia. A lawless whaling and sealing town, described as the “Hell-hole of the Pacific” in the early 1800s.
13-Kawakawa & Warkworth, on Flickr.
Drive from Bay of Islands to Hamilton. Morning coffee at Kawakawa to see the Hunderwasser toilets. Lunch at Warkworth, lovely village known for the ducks, who can say part of the town’s name ‘wark, wark…’
14-Hamilton, on Flickr.
A night in Hamilton, catching up with Paul. Beautiful Waikato River and the home of Riff Raff.
15-Otorohanga & Waitomo Caves, on Flickr.
Otorohanga, home of Kiwi House. Waitomo Gloworm Cave and Ruakuri Cave. Drive to Taupo.
16-Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park, on Flickr.
Orakei Korako (The Place of Adorning). Ferry trip across Lake Ohakuri on the Waikato River. There are hot springs, geysers and a geothermal cave.
17-Te Puia, Rotorua, on Flickr.
Te Puia, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and thermal valley.
18-Taupo, on Flickr.
Lake Taupo is Australasia’s largest fresh water lake and a popular holiday destination.
19-Huka Falls & Aratiatia Rapids walk, on Flickr.
A 22km return walk to Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids along the river, past fields of sheep, pine plantations and enormous trees hanging off cliffs.
We found a couple of ‘lost girls’ and reunited them with Stephanie’s mother.
20-Turangi, on Flickr.
South on Lake Taupo is Turangi, home is fishing (lake fishing that is). It rained as we drive south and back to Taupo again, but we didn’t miss the magnificent views.
21-Napier, on Flickr.
The drive from Taupo to Napier was in the rain. Through the Ahimanawaand Maungaharuru Ranges, pine plantations, sheep country, near vertical mountains and beautiful rivers.
22-Elephant Hill Te Awanga (Napier), on Flickr.
We indulged in a long lunch at the Elephant Hill winery in Te Awanga, a little south of Napier. The flat vineyards were a surprise to us, as was the delightful food and ambiance of this lovely winery.
23-Napier art deco & port, on Flickr.
Napier is famous for its art deco architecture, which replaced damaged buildings after an earthquake in 1931. Of equal interest was the port where pine logs are weighed, pulped and loaded onto cargo ships.
24-Tauranga & Mt Maunganui, on Flickr.
Last stop was Tauranga and Mount Manganui in the Bay of Plenty area. It was a bit wet so an ice cream seem d a good idea. That stopped the rain and allowed us to make the delightful walk around the base of Mount Manganui.
25-Waikareao Estuary, on Flickr.
We walked around the Waikareao Estuary, approximately 9.5km. The track took us around the lake, on a boardwalk through mangrove swamps and through gardens where we spotted the New Zealand Christmas tree in early flower.
26-Pampamoa Beach, on Flickr.
In the Tauranga area we took a walk around Pampomoa Beach, firstly through the wetlands in the Wairakei Reserve then along the beach.
27-Katikati, on Flickr.
Katikati is a small town built on horticulture in the 1870s. Now renowned for its ‘open air art gallery’ of murals on buildings on the main street.
28-Karangahake Gorge, on Flickr.
Gold was mined from the Karangahake Gorge from March 1875, and increased in 1890s with improved technology. The railway tracks have been converted to walking tracks. We explored the Windows Walk into the gorge, through dark tunnels, and then back along the Waitawheta River.
29-Auckland Botanical Gardens, on Flickr.
After a frustrating drive around Manukau City, we finally found the Auckland Regional Botanical Gardens. They were beautiful. We loved the forest walk.