After Boo headed on home backed to the U.S.A. my roommates Tara, Nora and I flew up to the North Island for a five-day adventure. We fly out late Wednesday night and after our plane being delayed and then switching planes after boarding because of a mechanical reason we finally arrived in Auckland around midnight. We took a taxi to our campervan and fueled on Red Bull, music and chips drove north to an I-site in the Bay of Islands to sleep there for the rest of the night.
We woke up to blue skies and the sun shining, so we took a look around the city of Paihia. It was beautiful and right on the ocean. We decided on a game plan for the rest of the trip would be to drive all the way up to the tip of the north Island, with stops along the way and then head back down to eventually finish in Matamata, where Hobbit on is because Nora and Tara had a tour scheduled Monday morning.
On our way up to Cape Reinga, our first stop was Rainbow Falls. A decent size waterfall with a giant pool that is gushes into. From the viewing point above the waterfall there is always a rainbow that is shown, hence the name Rainbow Falls. After rainbow falls we stopped at the Kauri Forest to look and giant 200 year-old trees. The forest had a great wheelchair accessible walkway that took you right up to the trees to make you feel like a pebble in comparison. We then stopped at Cable Beach to enjoy the sun and view. Finally at sunset, we made it to 90 Mile Beach. 90 Beach is exactly what the name implies, a beach that stretches for 90 miles along most of the west coast of the North Island, where cars can drive fly down it with views of the ocean to one side and huge sand dunes on the other. We made it there for sunset and had our first night cooking dinner in the camper van, well I guess technically outside of it.
The next morning we woke up and got to Cape Reinga early in the morning. Cape Reinga is one of the Northern most points on the Island, but most is most famous as the place where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. I am so glad we decided to drive all the way up, because we almost decided not to. The views were spectacular and there were whirlpools in the middle of the ocean where the two oceans meet.
After a great start to our day, we headed off to visit Tane Mahuta on of the most ancient trees in New Zealand. Tane Mahua is a kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest. ts age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. It is the largest kauri known to stand today. According to the Maori creation myth, Tāne is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tāne separates his parents from their marital embrace until his father the sky is high above mother earth. Tāne then sets about clothing his mother with vegetation. The birds and the trees of the forest are regarded as Tāne’s children. This is part of what I have leaved in my Maori studies class.
After visiting Tane Mahuta, we drove to Coromandal. A very cute, vacation town.. Here is where we visited Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Cathedral Cove is an iconic place to stop if visiting the area. The cave itself separates two beaches but you can access them both if you walk under the cave. The cove is most known for The cave and beach was used as the tunnel through which the Penvensie children first re-enter Narnia in the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
After visiting Cathedral Coves we drove to Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is a beach that you can access for two hours on either side of low tide. Before we could access it we had grilled cheese that we made in the camper. The beach is filtered by hot springs underneath, it is possible to dig in the sand that allows hot water to escape to the surface forming a hot water pool for your friends to enjoy. Tara, Nora and I dug a pool for us to enjoy. Although it was misting out and a little chilly, we enjoyed ourselves in the “hot pool.” I don’t think any of us realized how hot the water would actually get in some parts of the beach, as it would be too hot to sit in at times, but it definitely an awesome experience.
The next morning on our drive down to Waitomo Caves, we stopped at Bridal Falls. It was a gorgeous waterfall but it came with a price. There was 261 stairs down to the bottom and it was a long 261 stairs. We made it down, took in the scenery and then hit the road again. As we were driving along we came across a the small town of Pirongia and that happened to have their monthly famers market that day. Nora and I enjoy two bacon buttys each. They were literally bacon on a piece of buttered bread but they were delicious. We talked to the cutest old man who made gorgeous chairs and benches out of wood; pet some alpacas and I bought a scarf made out of alpaca hair. The lady who sold me the scarf owned 110 alpacas with her husband, and was just the sweetest.
As we finally made it to Waitomo, we had some time to spare before our caving adventure, so we took a walk up the county side to take in the view of the small farm town. When it was finally time to go blackwater rafting in the famous Waitomo caves we were ready for so action. It was just us three girls and an Irish couple so we had an intimate group, which was great! We got to experience glowworms that twinkled above our heads as we climbed over huge rocks, crawled through tight spaces and floated on tubes throughout this intricate cave underneath a bunch of farmland, it was probably my favorite experience of the trip.
We headed to Matamata early the next morning, and while Nora and Tara were doing the Hobbiton tour I enjoy the best hot chocolate I have ever had in a coffee shop and worked on homework for my classes. After they returned from the tour we headed back to Auckland to catch our flight back to Dunedin.
This was essentially my first true road trip, although there were a few bumps along the way but it was a trip of life time and something I will not forget!