It’s grim up Norf! Although maybe not so much in New Zealand, it’s just not as stunning as the South Island! I already knew this, and had warned the rest of my tour group not to expect the same epic landscapes as the South Island, but it’s certainly not the ugly sister.
First port of call was a quaint wine region called Martinborough. We rocked up to a motel and after staying one night decided to check right out as it didn’t meet our standards and moved to a new house in the town. Freda named the new place the bug house, which like most things she says, I half heartedly listened to, until it was duly noted as I swept up over 20 cockroaches. I have to say, I wasn’t too keen but they were only small! I became a little more concerned when the morning after, Mum and Dad told me they had struggled to sleep after dad woke with a cockroach on his face! We all decided to put it down to a bad dream, as we still had another night there…..and as the house was so nice, it almost didn’t matter. In between sweeping up the cockroaches, we grabbed some bikes and sampled what the region had to offer.
It took my mum a little while to get used to the bike, getting helmets off was quite challenging and time consuming!
but after a few more tastings it all got a lot easier.
We then made our way up to Napier,
which apart from Miami is said to be one of the most well preserved Art Deco towns in the world. After being destroyed by an earthquake in the early 30s, the city was rebuilt in the Art Deco syle.
Our trip was slightly blighted by rather unusually bad weather for the region, it was bloody freezing and an unfortunate incident of a pranged car! So, we resorted to a spot of wine tasting in Hawkes Bay to warm the cockles.
On to Lake Taupo, the terrible weather followed us, it was so windy over the mountains that we passed a blown over lorry, with a very large driver being pulled out the top of his cab by a brave man, struggling not to be blown away himself. Mitch, who was driving, was a little freaked out after seeing this, although I informed him that our little Yaris was unlikely to suffer the same fate. We arrived at another motel, not much better than the last but we managed.
Taupo is the largest lake in NZ with two volcanoes looming over one end. Look very carefully and you can see one, they are quite far away, as the lake is the size of Singapore.
We were also heading into the thermal area, with hot pools, smoking grounds and weird things going on!
A visit to the Huka falls, just off the lake, impressed as ice blue water rushed through a narrow gauge.
Taupo is a kind of resort town for the Kiwis, so there’s lots of tourist things to do, New Zeland style! Like the Bee hive, which Freda and Dad enjoyed.
There is also Shawn the Prawn park, a look-out over a thermal power station, and the highlight was the opening of the Aratiatia Dam, which we all enjoyed. After exhausting ourselves with all these exciting activities we went down to the lake for dinner, New Zealands favourite takeaway, fish and chips………sound familiar? Have to say their fish is better……. sorry, chips could go either way though.
The weather at last cheered up and we headed to smelly Rotorua, the main thermal land of NZ, hence a rather off-putting smell of rotten eggs, which can be quite horrible. But, maybe a small price to pay to see the earth like you’ve never seen it before. It’s like walking around on another planet. Stopping en route at a thermal wonderland called Wai’o’Tapo. Recognise it Aimée? With spurting geysers, bubbling mud and colours you can’t believe, it’s a special place. If you can stomach the smell!
Staying on the shores of lake Rotorua, we did a spot of kayaking,
went on lovely walks to see beautiful green and blue lakes and took in the native bush. The scenery around the volcanoes that have shaped this land are stunning!
Mum and I even managed to get a moment to ourselves to visit a Thermal spa, which was smelly, but was meant to be very good for the skin.
Our little blue convoy made its way up to our final destination just above Auckland. After 5 weeks together in Australia and then traversing the length and breadth of New Zealand, we spent our final days relaxing in a beautiful house just north of Auckland in the rolling hills. A well deserved rest from a jam packed itinerary and thoroughly enjoyable leg of our travels. Here we relaxed by a pool and enjoyed trips out to the stunning coast of the Northland.
As mum and dads last days approached we all became a little sad.
Now in Hawaii it’s not the same when we look in our rear view mirror, there is no longer a baby blue blip following up the rear (we finally shook them off), but we really do miss them!