A Travellerspoint blog

A perfect beachside bach on the Coromandel Peninsula

sunny 23 °C

Its a week before Christmas and its still feels like we need some snow to trigger the holiday spirit. Its warm, rainy, green and we can see the ocean! At the Sandspit Holiday Park I talked to a Kiwi about this and she explained that Christmas here is all about summer: school holidays, parties, and BBQs. There are signs that its Christmas: red and green Pohutukawa trees up and down the roads, Santa's hanging from the chimneys, and people shopping madly. But we just aren't feeling it. What we did enjoy is the perfect hideaway on the beach - a classic New Zealand bach.

Bach (pronounced batch) is short for bachelor pad, the Kiwi holiday cabin that is a big part of the culture here, and thanks to our friends the Crofts we found a great spot! Is was Whiritoa and had access to a freshwater lagoon as well as the ocean. The owners provided kayaks and the kids enjoyed messing about on them for hours at a time. We hiked into the Waimama reserve across the lagoon to our own secret beach where we used the Croft's ocean kayaks to paddle out to more small islands and coves. We also daytripped to the blowhole at the end of the beach and to the Broken Hills old mining site to explore abandoned gold mine tunnels. But after the crazy driving around the south island we mostly just enjoyed just chilling out reading, doing puzzles, and collecting shells on the beach at this cozy beach house that feels like a home.

For a couple of days afterwards we toured around a few north island spots; the famous Hot Water beach where James apparently burned his toosh and the neighbouring spectacular Cathedral Cove; Waipu caves and its galaxy of glow worms; Whanagarei where we saw our first kauri trees and a memorable waterfall; Trounson forest by moonlight looking for kiwis.

As always it was beautiful and unlike anything we'd seen before - we are almost fatigued from wonder!

We're going to be staying in Auckland for Christmas now at our friends' place while they are back in Canada for a visit. Albert and Faith have headed back to Alberta after a great month of travelling together. Merry Christmas to everyone. Thanks for checking out this blog! We hope you have a fun and restful holiday season.

Arin

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Posted by Arin MacDyer 12:57 Archived in New Zealand Tagged arin Comments (2)

Farewell to the South Island

Kaikoura

sunny 20 °C

Our guide book described Kaikoura as the most scenic beach drive in all of New Zealand and it didn't disappoint. Stunning ocean views - picture mountains meeting pebble beaches, green-blue bays with frolicking dusky dolphins and rock outcroppings covered in fur seals. Kaikoura is a little town that reinvented itself as an ecotourism destination because of the close proximity of whales, dolphins and seal colonies. No where else in New Zealand do whales come this close to the shore, too bad we weren't willing to shovel over our cash or our stomach contents to brave the open ocean to see them! Instead we took a hike along the heads, poked around in some rock pools (found more sea stars!) and visited a small aquarium where the touchpool had an octopus. Neve prodded it until it came out if its little hollow log! Faith and Albert finally got to try New Zealand crayfish (lobster) even though it set them back $45 for half! We settled for fish (hoki) and kumara chips.

Oddly enough, we also decided to give our tourist dollars to a sheep farm that delivered a sheep-shearing show. Driving through the countryside there are sheep everywhere and Kaikoura probably had the least of any other town. But the farm happened to be on the busy tourist track so they had an easy audience with all us tourists driving right past. It was a fun show, James and Neve got to feed a lamb and we all learned a lot of sheep farming 1. wool doesn't earn the farmer much (about $2 a pound) 2. wool is very oily, they even make moisturising cream from it 3. clippers work on James too!

This was also the best place for paua shells. We had picked up a rough shell on the roadside in Dunedin and at the Paua Factory we were able to have the rough outer shell ground down with a diamond grinder until it turned into a brilliant coloured shell that will be a cherished souvenir forever. This was was our last stop in the south island and so memorable - as we drove north to catch the ferry we did a short hike up a waterfall and there was a seal pup playing in the pool. Magical place.
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 23:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

The Kiwi Hunt

overcast 22 °C

It was a dark dark night with only the moon light to guide us and came a terible skreech Pheeeeeeee pheeeeeeeeeeee pheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! and out of the bushes came a terible looking ugly claw my hart skiped a beat ahhhh o its only a wild kiwi. Then we went back to the tent.

To hunt kiwi you need to 1 have red lights because it will not blind the kiwi. To find a kiwi you must be super quiet and there is a 50\50 chance that you will see a kiwi. Where to find a kiwi? You must go to aroha island or trounson forest.

congratulateing ourselves on the success of the kiwi hunt. The next day we drove to the kauri forest and did a couple of hikes first we went to hike to Tane Mahuta then Yakas the kauri trees are bigger than elefants bigger than redwoods huge! When the kauri tree also has a seciall sap called gum it can be used to make gloo and varnish.

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Posted by Arin MacDyer 14:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Gold!!!!!!!

Arrowtown was great. My favorite thing to do there was pan for gold. But i only found specks that were too small to take home (this small ( .) But, Then when we left arrow town we went high in the hills to a ghost town that had happened to be the best place to look for good gold. So we started to crack open chunks of quartz and we finally found a couple of flecks. After that we went to Tongariro national park and did a hike after that we we went to the coromandel peninsula. It has finally stoped raining!!! Today we also went to Collins tunels it was very fun and we got to see glow worms blinking in the tunel we had to bring our own flash-lights because it was pich black the tunels were also dripping like crazy and the rock was so wet that i could chip it off. I can't imagine what it would be like on a rainy day!
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 22:34 Comments (1)

Heading inland to escape the rain

Arrowtown, Twizel and Mt Cook

semi-overcast

I don't have many pictures and inadequate words to describe the spectacular scenery whizzing by my car window. It really is an exciting landscape with peaks and puckers created by ancient volcanoes and transformed by sheep grazing. The coastlines are still wild and in the gulleys there are remnants of native forest that I just love. The pohutukawa "New Zealand Christmas" tree look like gnarled witches arms, holding umbrellas. The mountains here are really big and still snowy at the tops.

To avoid more bad weather we've headed inland away from the rainy forests of Fiordland. I also know this is a relative term compared to winter in Alberta. Here are the top highlights:

1. Pub dining with the whole family in Arrowtown's Blue Door
2. Exploring gold-town ruins of Bendigo and seeing local gold nuggets in the jewelery store
3. Learning how to say the name of the lake "Ruataniwha" says "Rua Tani Fa" which apparently means Two Monster Lake
4. Getting drenched but high up at Mt Cook National Park
5. Seeing wild lupins growing all along the highway
6. Watching bungee jumping at the first ever jump site on a bridge over a gorge. Too cheap to pay $200 to do it!

The time is flying by! Everyone is doing well, apart from a few minor scrapes that were "healed" with heaps of candy from the campground store. Here are some snapshots:
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 21:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

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