First day back in the North Island bought a pretty big travel day to New Plymouth via the coast road which didn’t really bring much of any views of the coast but was nice drive all the same.
Whanganui bought us our lunch stop and a real surprise at how big the town was and how many beautiful old buildings there was. Another gem.
As you drive closer to New Plymouth you begin to see the unique feature of Mount Taranaki ( Egmont).
It’s an outstanding natural feature of Taranaki.
New Plymouth is hosting an Americana weekend and we had noticed a few cars waving American flags. We drove into the city but didn’t see much happening but we did pass an American style diner with some groovy old cars parked outside.
We booked some accommodation on booking.com for New Plymouth but it’s more an Airbnb setup with separate accommodation under the couples main home.
Our stay in Wellington was a beautiful huge en-suite room in a Victorian home. Where the carpet is original and still in great condition and obviously made especially for the room with border pattern around fireplace and room edges.
The weather improved the next day for our trip through state highway 43 better known as the forgotten highway.
All the great scenery you expect from Taranaki, rolling mountains, Sheep, cows, goats and more of those windy roads. Whangamomona is the township well should I say The republic of Whangamomona is where people come to either stay overnight or take a meal in this historical town that time forgot.
We had a ham salad sandwich each that was huge, then after checking out the village moved on through towards Tokaanu a small thermal town on the shores of lake Taupo, NZs largest Lake. Our accommodation would best be described as rustic but we had a bathe in the private onsite thermal pools and relaxed.
The next day we drove into Taupo and had a coffee etc before driving to Huka falls. A lot of new paths and infrastructure has been put in since we used to visit 30+ years ago and was highly enjoyable just walking and watching both the falls and the jet boats as they rode people in as close to the falls as they could.
Onto Rotorua and after looking at the entrance fees to the geysers decided that as we’d seen them in Iceland and I had been to all these thermal areas in years past we would after having a walk around the waterfront look for some accommodation close to a beach for a few days total break from driving.
A place came up in somewhere I’d never heard of but checking on the map close to where we’d been looking. The price was great and the photos showed a comfortable property right on the sand dunes with a hot tub positioned on the dunes that looked fantastic. We hesitated thinking it all looked too good for the price but decided why not so pushed the book button got a confirmation and set off to paknsav to stock up before heading to Pukehina for our three nights travelling respite.
What a find. The beach was mesmerising and we didn’t bother leaving Pukehina till we were forced to leave as our reservation couldn’t be extended due to other lucky people having booked it.
Bliss, good weather, books to read, waves crashing on the beach just metres away, very very few people around to be seen, and the night sky just as mesmerising as the sea.
Thursday the 28th February saw us sadly heading off and we decided to call into have a decent look at Waihi beach as the weather was still beautiful and it was lovely to have a beach walk there and a sandwich and coffee in the village before heading into Waihi town for another quick look around and then back to Te Atatu before the after work traffic makes the trip tiresome.
Back into Te Atatu and staying at Graeme and Kirsten’s where dad is now comfortably living back at after his three months in the hospital system due to his fall in October.
Friday saw us driving into Auckland city to catch up with Paul and Michelle who drove down from Omaha so we could meet our mutual friends Laurie and Chris that we met on our 2017 world cruise and Chris’s sister Marilyn and husband Kevin.
We began our day driving the waterfront to the lookout past St Helliers looking out over the Hauraki gulf and Rangitoto the famous volcano that is a predominate feature of Auckland harbour.
Coffee, scones and muffins down in the village was followed by Parnell rose gardens, Auckland museum and the winter gardens at the Domain and into Parnell for a walk through the town which is character filled due to the historical homes been turned into shops and restaurants. By now it was around 4pm and a bit of belly fuel was called for. We sat eating and chatting and then it was time to drop them off at the ship so they could walk to the viaduct before they sailed away to their next destination Tauranga.
Paul suggested we went for a drink back at mission bay to allow the after work traffic to abate before driving to our respective abodes. Great idea and sitting on a balcony upstairs overlooking all the happenings below Michelle and I enjoyed a jug os sangria and the boys a jug of beer. It was around 8pm when we got home from a great day of catch ups and touring.
Ps we all got in for free at the museum by pretending we were all Aucklanders.
After spending a day at home cleaning the car and going through photos on my iPad we packed up our car on Sunday the 3rd and headed up to Omaha to spend our last little beach holiday with Paul and Michelle at their comfortable home.
The weather has remained excellent and so an afternoon swim was had before we popped the champagne and Michelle cooked a beautiful lamb roast dinner. We ended up staying up past midnight watching a three part quirky show called Mrs Watson.
Come Monday we packed up the esky and their land cruiser and headed to Pakiri where we had a great walk and picnic lunch.
Paul lead us on a tiki tour on the way back where we found alpacas and awesome coastal views.
Mathieson Bay was our swimming spot and swimming out to the pontoon was fun before we relaxed and cracked open a beer each for the boys and a vodka and lime and Soda for us girls.
We took advantage of the ten dollar burger deal at Matakana rusty pelican on the way home.
Another evening spent watching a three part mini series called Manhunt. Good show with. Martin Clunes.
Tuesday the boys went off climbing a mountain which they said was pretty hectic and like climbing a ladder.
Michelle and I went into Warkworth where Michelle had an appointment and I mooched around the shops grabbing a few bargains for our next adventure and we enjoyed coffee and scone before hitting countdown and heading home.
Swims at the beach was what was making this feel like a real kiwi summer holiday and with a few sundowner drinks and great home cooking along with enjoying laughing with our friends it always seems like the time to go comes around too soon. Thursday morning came around and we hugged our mateys goodbye till the time we see each other again somewhere in this big world.
Part of the countdown to leaving N Z was of course getting our car sold. James did a terrific job of cleaning it up to look new and it was posted online and sold within a few days.
Little blue was a great purchase and did a grand job getting us safely all around NZ, it was brilliant to see it going to a fairly new driver who will have a reliable car as they hone their skills on the road.
Craig had us over for dinner along with Rex for a night of much alcohol consumption, food , laughs and we managed to get Craig to play the piano. An impressive effort after about 15 crownies.
Kirsten’s friend Natalie and partner Albert came over with sparkles to say farewell on the Saturday night and then came on Sunday to take James for a swim while I tried to get this all sorted.
Monday Graeme took Dad, James and I to Takapuna and onto Red Beach where we got dad out of the car and on a park bench to have lunch and soak up the beautiful sunshine and sound of the waves. This was the kind of day we had been hoping to share with dad more but with his fall we’re cheated out of.
as the days to our departure get closer it’s time to look at all the things we’ve accumulated and sort out the packing.
eeek we are taking more home than we came with and spent our last Tuesday packing our check in bags full of motorcycle clothes and helmets and other things I wanted to take home from mum and dads house to keep.
Final family dinners, Farewell phone calls and of course beginning to make plans for our two week stay in Australia.
Well New Zealand it’s been incredible. Thanks everyone who made the time to catch up, host us and share time with us. Met some fantastic new friends and we leave behind lots of amazing memories.