BootsnAll Travel Network

Driving Around and Discovering Interesting Things

On Sunday, I picked up my car from the agency near the airport. I was given a brand, spanking, old 1995 Nissan Sunny EX Saloon. Its the type of car that when you floor the gas pedal, the car just ignores you and continues on its merry way. At least it has been very good on fuel. I have been getting about 30 miles to the gallon. After getting the car, I made my way out of Auckland with only one horn blown at me. From that point on I have spent the last week driving around the Northern part of the North Island.

My first destination was the Waipou forest which is one of the last remaining stands of kauri trees (the New Zeleand version of our redwoods even though they look nothing alike). Like our redwoods, they have been extensively logged and are almost gone. The trees I did get to see were massive with one having a girth of nearly 16.5 meters. The weather was perfect. It was somewhat cloudy and misty which added an authentic air to the fern and tree filled forest. The forest was also populated by another New Zealand native, the silver fern, which is everywhere. It sort of looks like a mini palm tree except instead of palm leaves the trees are topped with ferns that are silver underneath.

I then made my way up to Cape Reinga which is the nothernmost point of the North Island. It truly feels like the end of the Earth there. The landscape almost looks artificial and made for a dramatic movie. The site was reached by a 20 km gravel road. It was marked with a lighthouse and was full of high cliffs which plunged down into a green churning ocean. I took a hike to a remote beach near the lighthouse and was totally alone. I don’t know why no one else took the hike except maybe for the fact that it was very steep downhill and skirted the very edge of the high cliffs. I only got to enjoy the remote beach for a little while as I could see a raincloud making its way quickly across the ocean towards me. I didn’t want to attempt the steep climb back to the car in the rain. I made a stop at 90 mile beach which is a hard pack beach that can be driven on for 90 miles at low tide. I only went a short distance on it as I was not supposed to take my rental car on it.

I then made my way to the Bay of Islands and planned to spend two days there. I stayed at the Pickeled Parrot in Pahia (the parrot apparently has passed away so I only got to visit with the cat). The Bay of Islands is just what it sounds like. A bay full of islands. The thing to do there is take bay cruises, but as I have been seeing stunning beaches for the last month and half. I declined and decided to move on to the Coromandel Pennisula after just one day.

I stayed for the last two nights in the town of Hahei on the east side of the pennisula. Upon checking into the hostel, I found that I was the only guy staying in the dorm area with about five German speaking girls, two Canadian girls, and an English girl. There was also an older American couple staying there in one of the double rooms. I spent the evening visiting with everyone and then submitting to watch lots of “girlie shows” for the evening. The next day I went visit the two well known attractions near the town. The first is Cathedral Cove which I believe will be featured in the second Narnia movie now in the making. I hiked to the Cove with the two Canadian girls. The cove is beautiful and full of large limestone rocks out in the water. They reach many feet high. There is also a large cave through which you walk to access another remote beach with more limestone formations. To top it all off, there are waterfalls cascading off the cliffs at the rear of the cove. I then went to Hot Water Beach. This is a very unique place. At load tide, hot water bubbles up through the sand about 10 feet from the ocean. Everyone comes with shovels and digs holes which fill up with this hot (scalding) water making impromtu spas. I took over an abandoned hole and set about improving it and making it deeper. I spent the next hours moving around my hole as the hot water sources constantly change. I had to avoid the bubbling areas as these are boiling hot. At the rear of the pools, cold water is constantly flowing in from some unknown source so you have to try to balance the hot and cold water sources.

Today I made my way to Rotorua which is the home to New Zealand’s thermal pools. The whole town has sort of a sulphur smell. I spent the evening walking around various parks watching mud pools bubble and burp.

From here on out my trip will get a little more active. Tomorrow I go white water rafting. I will be doing a tandem kayak over a 21 foot water fall. Other active events planned for the future, depending on the weather, is a 60′ rapel into the Waitomo caves, possibly attempting to summit Mt Taranaki (about 6000 ft) (stood in for Mt Fuji in “The Last Samari”), and hiring a helicopter to take me to the top of some glaciers to explore ice caves. I will write more on these things as they occur.

Interesting New Zealand observations:

1. Toilets – Every country has unique toilets. There are many ways to accomplish a task. New Zealand and the South Pacific are no different. All the South Pacific islands that I visited and New Zealand share the same toilet design. The toilets have two buttons on top to flush them. One button is half shaded. I never really gave it much thought as both buttons appear to flush the toilet. In the Pickeled Parrot, I finally saw a sign that explained the two buttons. One button is a half flush for the “little jobs” as the sign eloquently put it, and uses less water. The other produces the big whooshing flush that we all know and love in North America. After reading the sign I felt very enlightened and have been using the toilets correctly since then. Previously, I had just been pushing the half flush button twice when it didn’t seem to flush enough.

2. New Zealand roads: You get nowhere fast in New Zealand. The roads are very curvy and very steep. I feel sorry for my little 12 year old Nissan. It trys so hard. Some of the roads are also gravel. At one point I was diverted by a detour onto a very small gravel road that ran along sheer cliffs. I spent a very nervous hour creeping around curves and having to back up to make room for big trucks in the curves.

3. New Zealand gas stations: I have been paying about $5.70 NZD per gallon which is obscene by American standards. I have learned to avoid gas stations that don’t advertise their price (mostly in rural ares). They charge prices which are obscenely obscene. One could say downright pornographic.

4. New Zealand countryside: The North Island is mostly farm land and sheep. I spent most of my time driving through landscapes that remind me of the farming valleys in Oregon (hilly, pine trees).

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4 Responses to “Driving Around and Discovering Interesting Things”

  1. Kellie Says:

    Sounds beautiful! I can’t wait to see the pictures! Love you!

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Lyn Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. It’s neat to get an insight into my country and see what other people like and what they find unusual. Us Kiwis are often not aware of how unique and different New Zealand is.

  4. Posted from New Zealand New Zealand
  5. Heidi Says:

    Wow! It sounds like you really are getting the experience of a lifetime. I will keep my fingers crossed for the exchange rates. Please tell us more about what you are eating. Anything interesting?

  6. Posted from United States United States
  7. Gashwin Says:

    Hey, as your seminarian friend, and with deep concern for your immortal soul, I must admonish you to stay away from pornographic gasoline. Tsk tsk. 🙂

  8. oregon white water rafting Says:

    oregon white water rafting

    Hi. Very nice blog. I\’ve been reading your other entries all day

  9. Posted from United States United States

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