I arrived home on Thursday having had the holiday of a lifetime that lived up to my every expectation. After sleeping well on Thursday night (after 24 hours in the air) I spent most of yesterday in a state of light headed other worldliness, went to bed exhausted and have now been awake since 2 am... the joys of jet lag! But a chance to sort out my photos and write a blog post and a small price to pay for such a fabulous couple of weeks. So are you ready for a selection of my holiday snaps and an account of my trip... (might send you to sleep!)
Joe met me and Mum at Auckland airport, we found our hire car and our first stop was to stay with my cousins Diane and John who made us so welcome for the first few days of our New Zealand journey. The view above is from the balcony of their beautiful home just north of Auckland. We spent the first couple of days exploring the local area and this is Orewa beach... the first of many beautiful deserted beaches we were to discover.
Mum, Joe and me... on day one of our trip.
On our second day we drove back into Auckland from where we took a ferry to Waiheke Island
Good food, good ice cream and more beautiful scenery.
After leaving my cousin's home, we headed north to the Bay of Islands via the famous Hundertwasser public toilets in Kawakawa.
Joe and I booked on a trip to swim with dolphins but it was a bit wild and windy and there were only three of us booked to go, so the trip was cancelled which was a little disappointing but not for long. After the Bay of Islands we ventured further north via Mangouni for some excellent fish and chips. We drove as far north as we could to Cape Reinga where the Pacific Ocean and Tasmin Sea meet.
I couldn't go to New Zealand without experiencing something adventurous (and I wasn't planning to jump off anything) so we stopped at the giant Te Paki sand dunes where Joe and I tried some sand tobogganing... Mum sat this one out! This is Joe coming down and yes... it is as steep as it looks but so much fun! He's got a similar photo of me!
And another stop... this time 90 mile beach where it looks like this for as far as you can see in either direction. Not quite 90 miles but it might as well be.
Next we came back south of Auckland via tropical rainforest, under canopies of beautiful tree ferns and giant kauri trees.
Our next stop was Waitomo where we visited the famous glow worm caves... although I think I might save that adventure for another post. Whilst in the area we also did a bushwalk, visited the Marokopa Falls...
and walked around the Mangapohue Natural Bridge Scenic Reserve.
Next stop on our road trip was Rotorua, famous for its geo-thermal springs, mud pools, areas of hissing steam escaping from the ground and strong smell of sulphur! We had a fabulous tour around the Whakarewarewa thermal village where Maori people still live among the hot springs using them to cook and bathe. We were treated to a bit of Maori culture and ate corn on the cob that had been cooked in hot water bubbling from the ground.
And we got to see this amazing geyser letting off steam.
Moving on again we ended up in the Coromandel peninsular for the Easter weekend. First of all a walk down to Cathedral Cove.
And next... hot water beach. This beach has hot water springs under the sand, so when the tide is out you can dig a hole which fills with really hot water which you can sit in like a little personal spa pool... in theory anyway. We arrived to find the beach heaving with people (such a contrast to every other beach) all with spades trying to dig out their own little hole. But the low tide wasn't as low as it might have been and everytime anyone made progress on a hole... a wave came in and filled it with cold water. It was hilarious! Despite Joe's best efforts and the fact that we could feel the burning hot water under our feet we gave up...
and dug a hole on a quiet part of the beach which filled with cold water! Joe and I parked our bums in our cold water spa and dozens of people came to ask had we found hot water and by the time we left there were dozens more holes around ours... might have been because we told fibs and said it was lovely and warm!
Having had enough of the crowds we ventured back to this beach where we spent the rest of our Easter Sunday.
Our final stop was Coromandel Town, a quet and picturesque town famous for its green lipped mussels (which were excellent!)
And another drive on an unmade road with hair pin bends over a mountain took us to this beach at Kennedy Bay. Two glorious weeks of unbelievably beautiful unspoilt scenery... and we just saw a fraction of it. No wonder everyone raves abound New Zealand. But best of all was spending two weeks with Joe and my Mum. It was very hard saying goodbye to him on Wednesday.
And wonderful though it all was, it was also good to get home... to a lovely clean and tidy house that Stewart had filled with flowers. I'm very lucky indeed. But now it's back to reality... and I need to sort out my sleep pattern before work next week!