Thursday, April 26, 2007


They haven't been on ANOTHER holiday surely? I hear you ask..... well... yes... just a little one this time.
We went up to the north of the north island, mainly because Chris has just moved to Auckland ( and we wanted to check up on him. He's doing very well up there with a nice pad and looked after us well before we all headed over to Waiheke island, about 45mins on the ferry from Auckland. Waiheke is a very pleasant place where we went kayaking, swimming, played frisbee, ate pizza, and stayed in a very smelly and noisy hostel before heading back to the mainland. There we bid Chris goodbye while he went to play icehockey and we went to see Rue up in Orewa. The boys went snowboarding in an indoor snowy place while i sat in the bar and watched them with a glass of wine and a good book.
From Orewa we headed north: next stop - Sheep World! There we got to see sheepdogs at work, learnt how to shear a sheep and got to feed some animals and learn a bit about them. Did you know that Alpacas love cats and will follow them around? Or that they only have bottom teeth and so can't bite too hard? (Ash would dispute this last fact.... I kept a healthy distance, as you can see from the photo). Further up the coast is Goat Island marine reserve. We stayed in a lovely little campsite in a static caravan called Rosie with one of the best views ever, and hired out wetsuits to go snorkelling (yes, we told the campsite owner, yes, we are complete wooses and feel the cold). Despite the wetsuits the water was pretty chilly but we were rewarded for our efforts by seeing lots of coloured fishies (sorry, natural history is not my forte) and stingrays.
The following day we went horsetrekking along Pakiri beach, then up the coast to the Bay of Islands where Ash tried to teach me how to play squash. We're just about still talking. Then a tour of the Treaty House at Waitangi, where the treaty was signed between the European settlers and Maori.
After all that history and activity we were ready to relax with our books in a little hideaway hostel called the Tree House in Hokianga harbour on the West coast. This was a gorgeous place - little hostel cabins dotted throughout trees - see the photo of ours which was by a little brook where the ducks would come and splash around. Very relaxing.

From the Tree House we caught a wee ferry across the harbour and drove through Opononi, a coastal town famous for the time when a friendly dolphin ('Opo the friendly dolphin' - there's a song about it, I kid you not) came to play and stayed in the shallows there for a while. There are some striking sand dunes around there, plus blue seas, and we couldn't resist stopping and going for an impromptu swim.
Not much further down the coast we went through the kauri forests and saw the giant kauri tree (trunk girth 13metres or something similar - believe me - big tree), and then stopped off at the Kai Iwi lakes - fantastic clear freshwater lakes with white sand beach with a campground on the shores. No one else was there at all, so we went for a very peaceful paddle on some kayaks left there, and then, of course, another swim. That night we stayed in Balys Beach, a wee village near an incredibly long beach (see photos) in a lovely little hostel that we had to ourselves. Cosy evening on the sofa.

The following day brought more sunshine and a trip back to Auckland, broken by a stop in Waiwera, where Chris popped up to join us for a sandwich on the beach and a game of mini-golf, thus making our holiday complete. Also in Waiwera is a 'thermal wonderland', a cross between hot spas and Alton Towers.... kind of hideous really, but where there's warm water, there's Becs and Ash getting in it! The place had a number of spas of different sizes and temperatures and oh so many noisy kids... It also had a number of water slides and foolishly (why?why?why?) I thought it might be fun to go down one. 'C'mon Ash' i said, and he needed little encouragement as we headed up the long staircase to the longest one. We seemed to have been climbing a lot of stairs and we were really quite high up before it struck me that perhaps it might have been wise for an adrenaline-averse person such as myself to start off on one of the smaller slides. But Ash assured me it'd be fine, and who am I to argue? All I can say is that it was horribly fast and horribly bendy and horribly steep and went on for a horribly horribly long time. My adrenals still haven't recovered.

Back in Auckland, we stayed again at Chris' (thanks love) and went out in the evening to meet up with Rue again, and Ash's old flatmate from Bath, Katey and her bloke Mike who were out on holiday. Had a fun time until some rather shady characters seemed keen to show off a knife so we made a sharp exit. Felt kind of safe in the company of a policeman (Mike) and a martial arts expert (Ash). Not forgetting the rehab engineer of course Chris!

Photos are, from top:

1. Balys beach, near Dargaville (Daaaaahgaville)
2. Kai Iwi lakes
3. Hokianga Harbour
3. Opononi (Ash)
4. The tree house cabin
5. Ash looking rather special whilst horseriding on Pakiri beach
6. Alpaca at Sheep World
7. Goat Island
8. Waiheke island - the boys on the ferry
9. A walk on Waiheke
10. Kayaking around Waiheke ('NOW will Becs shut up about wanting to go kayaking?'!)
11. Becs and Chris about to eat lots of pizza


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