Visit to the land of the long white cloud

Holiday to North Island of New Zealand, Nov/Dec-2008

15 Nov (Sat) Arrival and North Auckland (Takapuna)
3 hrs sleep night before
turbulent so no coffee on flight
Vodaphone SIM and SV Commodore at airport, found ring of keys in car so had to reurn them.
Drove up one tree hill to the monumented hilltop where commodore was larger than carparks spaces. Surrounded with fields of grazing sheep and cattle.
Then to Takapuna (North Auckland) walked along beach and had fish pies & pepsi max from chain pie restaurant
(Takapuna o/n)
16 Nov (Sun) Auckland to Bay of Islands
drove up lake road north to large lake where sail boats
drove North passing lakes connected to sea. deep green water. stopped at Puhoi (Czech settled historic village) morning tea o cheese omlette at "art of cheese" cafe and factory
walks through Kauri forest.
viewss over estuary and to west seas. walked around Paihia, Kerry had oysters and scollops for dinner
3 nights in Paihia
17 Nov (Mon) Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga
saw stone store and Kemp house at Kerikeri, but didn't see chocolate factory
went down a couple of peninsulas within bay along estuaries with beautiful dark green water, mist and low cloud and fishing boats.
drove up to Cape Reinga along 15km of dirt while re-sealing road
18 Nov (Tue) Bay of Islands
Hole in rock cruise. quite flat, and went through hole, then reversed back in.
Landed then wandered about Otehei bay
Lunch and tour of Russell, good size old cemetery around Christ Church (musket ball holes in wood walls), also 2nd cemetery on top of hill.
19 Nov (Wed) Bay of Islands to Thames
European architect designer of toilet block. roof covered in grass, bottles and ceramic pieces throughout concrete and uneven floors
24m high waterfall
couple of coastal looops nw of auckland and se of Auckland.
overnight in Thames
20 Nov (Thu) Coromandel Peninsula to Tauranga
Historic buildings in Thames and lookout
Drove around Coromandel peninsula on road hugging the bay, then through some hilly windy forest roads, with some great views of inlets
o/n Tauranga
21 Nov (Fri) East Cape to Gisborne
Drove around East Cape, beautiful views etc, bays with driftwood, Maori meeting houses, little churches and cemeteries, all towns by the bay have tsunami warning signs. saw many bridges, some had a lane each way.
overnight Gisborne
22 Nov (Sat) Giborne - winery tour
Farmers market (small but real), which included the local MP dropping by for some shopping, followed by a litle shopping in town (glasses repair and watch battery)
Afternoon winery tour. [Pacific Leisure run by Grant Hughs]
Gisborne known for Chardonnay, malbec and merlot.
chardonnays OK
some merlots are huge, vognier are good aromatic.
Walked to and around Gisborne and suburbs. Many buildings/businesses are closed or eing rebuilt or relocated. Some buildings are condemned as dangerous structurally after the earthquake of Dec 2007
overnight again in Gisborne
23 Nov (Sun) Gisborne to Napier
Wharf area of Gisborne (Cook's landing spot is now under a timber yard)
then on to Napier  (art deco town).
earthquake museum
Napier overnight
24 Nov (Mon) Napier to Martinborough
Dannevirke cemetery
Tui brewery
some wineries near Martinborough
25 Nov (Tue) Martinborough to Wellington
Te Papa (museum) in Wellington
- earthquake room
- Maori meeting house inside
- junk shop animated movie
- map of NZ with active floortile showing movies (of where you stepped)
- moa
- pygmie blue whale skeleton (most whales that are washed on shore are claimed by maori, but this was run over by a ship)
- quake breakers that the museum sits on and the central spine of museum upon which rest hangs
- big immigration section
overnight Johnsonville
26 Nov (Wed) Wellington
tour of Parliment
lunch in Cuba Lane
cable car
museum of Wellington incl Wahine inter-island ferry disaster
beer at Macs brewery
clockwise around peninsula
dolphins in inside bay near airport
Point Dorset where ship ended up off of. (also Bree from Lord of the Rings)
overnight Johnsonville
27 Nov (Thu) Wellington to Ohakune
to Ohakune (carrot town and Ski town)
drove up to Turoa skifield which only closed 16 Nov. in process of closing down for summer. snow on higher runs, but nothing left at base. (There are 2 higher cafe levels and lifted areas above higher of those).
Mangawhero and smaller falls on way back.
28 Nov (Fri) Ohakune to Wanganui
through Desert road
up to Whakapapa ski field (Mordor (from Lord of the Rings))
up Whanganui River valley (gorge)
dinner in old warehouse by river (Vega merchant store)
overnight in Whanganui
29 Nov (Sat) Wanganui to New Plymouth
stopped at small town holding a Christmas parade
lunch (Sugar Juice cafe)  at town building a $1.1M artifical reef
guy surfing with a paddle
drove round Mt Taranaki(inner road)  incl base car park for the trek to the ski field
Dawson falls
overnight New Plymouth
30 Nov (Sun) New Plymouth to Hamilton
sausage from top sausage shop in NZ
wandered around some 1800s park in New Plymouth with ducks, water wheel, poets bridge (named after a racehorse whose win funded original bridge)
Waitomo cave
statue of Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show movie in Hamilton
overnight Hamilton
1 Dec (Mon) Hamilton to Rotorua
morning tea at Tirau which had art buildings in corrugated iron
falcons at "Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust"
Rotorura museum in 1908 built bath house
overnight x4 Rotorua
2 Dec (Tue) Rotorua - Lady Knox guyser and Tamaki Maori culture experience
Lady Knox guyser and Waio-Tapu thermal pools
Mamaku blue blueberry farm
Tamaki Maori culture experience - challenge, walk through village, meeting house, hungi dinner,
3 Dec (Wed) Rotorua - Hells gate
d: mountain biking 2.5 hrs in state forest
k: polynesian spa
Hells gate
dinner at nice restaurant
4 Dec (Thu) Rotorua and Lake Taupo
Orakai Korako (Hidden Valley) thermal park
Huka falls
trout farm (National Trout Centre)
drove around lake Taupo
5 Dec (Fri) Rotorua to Auckland
Rainbow Springs trout hatchery
Kiwi encounter
overnight in Auckland (Parnell)
6 Dec (Sat) Auckland
French markets in Parnell
maritime museum
Auckland museum
drove around harbour and Tamaki river to Eastern Beach
7 Dec (Sun) Auckland
helicopter doing building work in Auckland
breakfast in Parnell
Kelly Tarltons antarctic encounter (Gentoo and King penguins. World first underwater viewing tunnel)
return car and fly home