After hitting somewhat of our New Zealand’s base in Pukekohe we headed north longing for some warm weather which we haven’t exactly been spoiled with so far. First stop was the tiny town of Tutukaka with its main attraction diving. The weather was sure a lot warmer and we really enjoyed the beaches and the sun even if he water was fairly cold. Despite that Emil wanted to try out some diving out at the Poor Knight’s Island which according to the famous diver Jacques Cousteau would be one of the top ten places in the world. With some really thick wet suit Emil dared to enter the water. The visibility was good and it was sure different from tropical water but I guess my buddy Jacques must have been here during the summer when a warm current is supposed to bring heaps of sea life. We certainly didn’t got any warm current being 16 degrees and not much of the sea life either.
Heading north we hit Paihia and also some really great and hot weather. This is more like it! After freezing our buts of on the south island while the summer was long and warm in Sweden, we finally definitely are having great summer while it’s freezing cold and frost back home. Emil is using the kid’s 70+ sun block so it’s not easy to pick up too much colour even if the sun is really strong. This area is the birth place of New Zealand as a nation. Across the bay of Paihia the first British settlement was done which today forms the old village of Russell. Just north of here at Waitangi the British and the Maori chiefs signed the treaty forming the country of New Zealand. The diving here was also supposed to be good so Emil gave it another try and it turned out to be great. First dive was on Green Peace’ flag ship Rainbow Warrior which was mined by the French secret service while in Auckland harbour on its way to protest the French nuclear testing, 26 years ago. It was a cool dive to see the resunk ship and the coral covering it and the fish living around and in the wreck. Then it was reef dive with heaps of fish and some 10 sting rays reaching up to impressive 3 m in wing span.
After we left the camper van we tried quite wide variety of accommodation. We have stayed at friends places, cabins at camp grounds, hostels and motels. Since we brought a tent all the way from Sweden we figured we had to try it out. We all slept in it for two nights and it worked fairly well. We also passed through the town of Kawakawa for a toilet stop – it’s not all places which decide to get their name on the map by having a fancy architectural public toilet.
We really enjoyed being at these two beach towns relaxing for many days at each spot and not doing too much of driving as we had done before. It was very peaceful and we really liked the great weather and beautiful beaches.
Next tiny but beautiful stop was Kaikuora all famous here for its sea life of all sorts, with the whales as the main attraction. All whale tours were canceled when we arrived since they all decided to head offf shore, but we enjoyed the day watching the local fur seal colony and celebrating our 8 year anniversary since we got together with some fantastic sea food. The lobster (the Kiwis call them cray fish just to be modest I suppose) was clearly over rated but the fish was just beautiful. The next day Hanna headed out early and was really lucky to see some 15 whales, dolphins, seal, albatross and much more. It was an extraordinary experiance to see this giant sperm whales up to some 20 m long. Emil with a tendency of sea sickness was considering passing this activity but with Hanna’s luck he was convinced to give it a try. Emil had to endure rain, rough sea, a neighbour throwing up five times while not trying to get too sick himself without any signs off sea life what so ever. Since 98% of the trips spot whales, Emil being one of the few unlucky ones at least got most if the money back.
We then took the ferry back to New Zealand’s north island. The crossing offered a fairly rough sea making both kids throwing up and making Emil’s fair skin even more pale. Hanna is not affected by the sea too much so she seized the opportunity to catch a cold instead. We had two relaxed days in Wellington, where we enjoyed the beach right in the center of the city with Emma going for a swim, catching up with Iain and Jane again and also with Angela from the middle eastern trip. We then hit Palmerston North again seeing our Swedish friends Calle and Malin. Emma was all excited during the whole stay playing and talking in Swedish for once with their kids.
Waitomo caves offers some of the best caving experience in the world. Emil went on a trip abseiling down into the depths in wafer falls, caving through tunnels and underground rivers down to some 80 m below, before climbing up through the streams, rocks and some really long ladders. An awesome underground adventure. Hanna having a cold didn’t feel like getter all wet so she went into the main caves which had paved paths and also included a nice calm boat ride in the glow worm cave. But she she could see the nice formations up close as well as heaps of glow worms. Emma didn’t join neither if us but she had a go at caving in a tunnel at the museum. Lina couldn’t care less busy escaping the museum crawling fast.
Even if we still do most driving while Lina is asleep she’s much happier awake now in the car maybe because sitting a few meters closer to her parents. Emma has become more restless though since her view out was much better in the camper but a few pillows under her chair has improved that.
A beautiful sight while driving is some yellow bush covering massive hills and fields. We’re pretty sure it must be Ölandstok a Swedish bush which must have spread from this Swedish island, it can’t be too far to New Zealand 🙂 You can see a picture and if you know the plant feel free enlighten us with a comment.