Picture gallery for Christmas 2015 road trip

on December 31, 2015

For anyone not on Facebook I hope this works... our complete album of pictures from our awesome Christmas 2015 road trip =D ENJOY! For some reason the gallery starts in the middle of our trip. To see pictures from the very beginning simply scroll to the far left below the pictures, where the arrow is.

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Christmas 2015 road trip, day 6: Kapiti Coast - Mount Taranaki - Ohaupo

on December 29, 2015

We actually did decide to leave Cape Palliser yesterday and journey on. Could have easily stayed another week or longer, but it felt like the time was getting close to head back home where our rabbits and the garden were waiting for us. Our initial idea was to camp somewhere around Lake Wairarapa, but after having been spoiled which such beautiful scenery the lake simply didn't appeal to us.

Looking at the map we were hoping to find a campsite in a nearby National Forest and headed towards Kapiti Coast. Well, luck wasn't on our side. By the time the sun set we were in Waikanae on the West Coast and knew from last year's experience that freedom camping was rather tricky in this part of the country. So onwards we journeyed, until we finally got to Foxton Beach. There were already a few campervans in the carpark and it was way past our bedtime so we simply locked the doors and fell asleep almost instantly. Packed everything up as soon as the sun appeared over the horizon to find a more suitable spot for breakfast which we ended up having at Waverley Beach.

As we made our way further up north we remembered our bad luck from last year trying to catch a glimpse of Mount Taranaki. It was sort of on the way, so we thought why not give it another go? The sky, however, got cloudier and cloudier as we approached the Taranaki area. We drove as close as possible - and all the sudden look who showed his face in his entire magnificence!

I also got to drive along the Forgotten World Highway this time and we stopped in Whangamomona, a self-proclaimed independent Republic. Did you know this gem is in the middle of New Zealand? How cool is that! Check this out - former presidents include Billy the Goat and a poodle!!!

After enjoying a refreshing swim in one of the rivers along the way we called in at Matt's sister and spent a lovely evening with her family. Thank you for the shower and the goodies Sarah =D

Christmas 2015 road trip, day 4/5: Cape Palliser

on December 28, 2015

Our final destination for this road trip was Cape Palliser at the very bottom of the North Island. It turned out to be such an amazing place, peaceful, tranquil, rich in kaimoana and inhabited by friendly as people that we ended up staying 2 whole days. It was quite an adventure, though. The first morning we almost ran out of gas realizing the next gas station was 60km back inland - we only JUST made it there!

After returning to the cape and enjoying a late breakfast we then had issues getting the back window back up in the truck - no journeying on unless that got fixed. Otherwise we'd be breathing in diesel fumes AND there would be no way for us to safely leave the truck anywhere. What to do?

We found help in the little fishing village Ngawi which had been featured in several TV series such as Hunger for the Wild and Coasters. Talking to a few locals getting in their catch of the day (everybody in Ngawi basically lives of commercial crayfishing) we were told to see Rob Miles, also known as MacGyver or Mr. Fix-It (he, too, was featured on TV a couple of years ago!!!). And we weren't disappointed. Within a few hours Rob had fixed the truck with a bit of DIY and a strong engineering background. THANK YOU ROB!!! You're a star =D

Early afternoon we finally managed to get back on the road and explore the Cape. It's such a beautiful place - home to Cape Palliser lighthouse (252 steep as stairs!) and one of New Zealand's largest fur seal colonies. They were everywhere! I even spotted what I interpreted as a seal daycare centre *lol* All the pups were playing side by side in a large rock pool while a massive male and another female were keeping a close eye on them. I could have watched them for hours...

overlooking the home of hundreds of fur seals
252 steps to the top!
pups playing in the rock pools
one of many bulldozers used by the Ngawi people to launch their crayfish boats
overlooking the Cape
watching the sunset after an exhausting day
doing laundry the old-fashioned way ;-)
another bulldozer pulling in a massive crayboat

The second day we ran into some more locals who recommended a drive (only with a 4WD vehicle!) and hike to a waterfall on private Maori land. Lucky the truck was fixed, so after Matt went diving to get us some more paua (they are massive down here!!!) we took off on another offroad adventure. It was quite a drive and we could understand why you shouldn't attempt this in a normal vehicle. Both of us were actually surprised the Surf didn't break down along the way!!! Here are some more impressions of today's adventure...

Christmas 2015 road trip, day 3: Castle Point

on December 26, 2015

I don't know how we survived today. Don't think we've ever done THAT much driving in one single day. Started out early from Lake Tutira after a filling breakfast heading towards Napier to restock supplies. Stopped at a beach just before Napier and talked to one of the locals - who ended up being a cousin of the late Alex - the helicopter pilot that once rescued Matt and his dad, pulling them out of the sea after their boat capsized. What are the chances?!? New Zealand is such a small place!

Anyway, the guy recommended for us to stop at Blackhead Beach so we made that our first destination for today. It turned out to be a beautiful white sandy beach and we went for a cruise in the Surf. I love our 4WD :-)

After that we journeyed on to Castle Point on the East Coast. We'd seen this place on TV before and loving lighthouses knew we had to go there. Hiked around for a bit, took lots of pictures and enjoyed the beautiful coastal scenery.

Trying to stay along the coast as much as possible we kept on driving through some pretty remote areas only to realize we were going in circles just a little bit - and eventually ended back up on the main motorway. As it was getting a bit late we looked around for some campsites, but the only free ones were completely full. We tried out luck at Honeycomb Rock which on the map said had another lighthouse. Yeah right - after driving the no-exit-road (all gravel) for at least an hour we found out it was all private land! You could still go and walk to the lighthouse - only a 3/4 hour hike. Sorry, but not. Especially not since the sun was starting to set.

We drove around a bit and found what could have been the perfect spot to stay the night right on the beach - when suddenly 4 rather dodgy looking guys appeared on their motorbikes telling us they were camping here, too. Hiding from I don't think I want to know what. So on we journeyed *sigh*

We actually made it all the way to Cape Palliser tonight! Had crackers and cheese in the truck for tea and finally pulled over for a sleep just after 10pm. Exhausted, but happy we made it.

Christmas 2015 road trip, day 2: Rotorua - Lake Waikaremoana - Lake Tutira

on December 25, 2015

We left Rotorua just after lunch time deciding to make Lake Waikaremoana our first destination. Matt has always wanted to come here and with the heat getting a bit unbearable we thought stopping for a swim would be a perfect idea.

Lake Waikaremoana

After stopping somewhere on the way for Matt to have a go at a brown trout just sitting in the middle of the river (lost heaps of flies but the fish wasn't interested) we made it to the Lake early afternoon and were rewarded with stunning sceneries. The lake is situated right in the heart of Te Urewera National Park and covers an area of more than 50 square kilometers. We took lots of pictures and finally managed to dip into the water at Rosie's Bay. How beautifully refreshing!

We could have camped the night right there, but it was way too busy so we decided to journey on. Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of options around, so we ended up staying the night at Lake Tutira just outside the camp ground. Once again the actual campground was way too crowded for our liking, so we parked up right by the lake, Matt enjoyed another trout fishing adventure (again unsuccessful) after cooking us yummy dinner on the BBQ and we went to bed with ducks guarding our belongings :-)

Christmas 2015 road trip, day 1: Whangarei - Rotorua

on December 24, 2015

Last year Matt and I went on a spontaneous road trip that led us all the way down to Kapiti Coast and Wellington. Looking at things to do we thought about going to Cape Palliser, the southern most point of the North Island. We'd seen it featured on a couple of TV shows (Hunger for the Wild, Coasters) and were amazed by the scenery, but unfortunately ran out of time. All year we've been talking about spending Christmas there this year, so today we took off on our adventure *woohoo*

We spend Christmas Eve in Rotorua with some of Matt's relatives, stocking up on supplies and preparing ourselves for the long way ahead.