A Travellerspoint blog

Bay of Islands Boat Trip

A day on the Doorak

sunny 77 °F
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It has been more than a week since we left Avalon but memories of our last day with the De Jong's are still vivid in our minds, when after days of rain the skies cleared allowing the De Jong's to take us out on their 3 meter boat in the Bay of Islands. After picking up some fishing bait (sardines), we launched the boat from Opua Bay a mere fifteen minute drive from Avalon

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The sky was smattered with clouds and though we did feel the occasional rain drop it was quite nice to see the shore retreating from vision as we splashed through the waves. With Willem behind the wheel we made for Turtle Bay. We arrived at the bay to find that friends of the De Jongs were already there enjoying a day on their boat. We roped up and enjoyed a glass of white wine with our sandwiches. Then it was into the water for Sara and I. She and I paddled to shore and explored some rocky outcrops (much to the dismay of my still tender soles). We were soon joined by Pat, who had thought to put on his snorkel, Willem and Julia.

Back at the boat we toweled off while Julia dangled her toes in the water. Surprised she yelped that there was a huge fish in the water swimming around her toes. We all ran to the side of the boat but saw nothing (naturally we thought she was imaging the fish) then out of water we could make out a meter and a half long Kingfish. We watched the fish swim casually around the boat for a few minutes and then decided that we had better head out and go fishing ourselves.

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We set anchor at Black Rocks and pulled out our rods. After a few frustrating minutes of having fish stealthy steal our bait, I am proud to say I landed the first fish (it was quite a small snapper). It seemed that after one was caught we simply couldn't stop reeling them in. Though there was only one keeper among the thirty or so fish we caught it was quite an enjoyable deep sea fishing experience.


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The sun was sinking to the horizon when we pulled up on shore and loaded the boat back on to the trailer. A perfect way to end our stay with our first WWOOFing hosts.

Kari

Posted by patandkari 15:26 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boating Comments (1)

Otaki

New Wwofing address an hour north of Wellington

75 °F

I have not posted in a long time and I am very regretful of that. Kari and I have just recently arrived at our new accommodations in Otaki. We got here on Saturday night and have spent the last few days working and getting acquainted with our new surroundings.

Our trip down was nice and smooth but a little less exciting than we had hoped. There will be an update on exact events soon with pictures and all. The drive went well and was actually shorter than we had thought. When we made it to Mt. Taranaki, where we had a planned tramp around the mountain, we found out that it would actually be possible to summit and get a fantastic view of the area. Unfortunately rain moved in and we never made the trip up because there would have been no view at all because visibility was at about half a mile. We decided that since we are only 2 hours away here in Otaki that we would go when the weather cleared.

Our new place is very nice, it is a retreat center that also has a high and low ropes course set up on the property, along with several bunks and cabins for people staying in the retreat center. We are in one of the small bunks, named the Chicken Chalet. The cabin next to ours is the Rooster Chalet, but as the rooster lost his head yesterday (no neither of us had to do the dirty work) they may need to think of changing the name.

Patrick (and Kari at the end)

Posted by patandkari 23:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Update From Avalon

Working hard and having plenty of fun

semi-overcast

We are still at the Avalon Resort this week (www.avalonresort.co.nz), but will be leaving on Monday morning for a week long trip to our next destination. We plan to take our time and see the rest of the sites in the Northland and then go for a 2 day hike around Mt Taranaki before reaching our new Wwoof residence in Otaki. Otaki is just north of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

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The de Jong Residence. Our room is in the tower in the middle

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Kari on the computer in our room in the Tower

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Patrick concentrating on the grill making sure not to burn dinner

With our remaining time here I think we will be working on more of the same. Lately we have been planting along the drive as well as watering almost every day. It has been very dry here and most of the country is in a drought. Summer is not the ideal time to plant but Willem, our host, got a ton of free plants that a friend dug out of their yard. We have been spending our time prepping the plants to go in the ground and then going through the pains of planting on a steep slope. Besides watering these there are 9 new Magnolia trees planted along the drive that need daily watering as well.

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The driveway into the Resort

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The cottages across the upper pond

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Those small light green plants are our hard work, about 125 of them

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Bella the goat and the ducks by the lower pond

The kids went back to school last week so it has been quiet after work. However it also means that our lunch cooking crew is gone so we have to cook our own food after work. Our usual day starts at 8 with breakfast, 8:30 to 10:30 work, half an hour for morning coffee, then work till 1 or 1:30. After that we eat lunch and have the rest of the day free to do what we please. Some days we go to the the beach at Matauri Bay and enjoy the afternoon there while other times we walk into Kerikeri for some shopping. We found a very nice second hand book store in town that Kari and I have spent more than 4 hours in. We both already finished our first purchases and just got second books there today. There are a couple of nice restaurants in town, although we eat mostly at Avalon, and many small shops. Today we stopped by the Chocolate Factory down the street to watch the confectioners at work and also eat a few free samples. On nice days we sometimes play soccer or Volleyball with the kids before going for a swim in the river.

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A nice sunset from the back deck of the house where we eat dinner

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The sunset with the house in the foreground

The evenings are a chance for a little relaxation. Dinner is usually started around six but some times it is put off till seven depending on when everyone is home. We usually help with the cooking and about half the family does as well, while the other half do dishes after we eat. Bed time for Julia is nine and the other girls usually go to bed at the same time unless we watch a movie. This means that it gets very quiet around the house and Kari and I use the time to surf the net, read and play cards. All in all it is a very nice way to spend our time, we get days off every so often and use them to go a little further, like Sunday when we went to Waitangi. Waitangi is where the Maori and the British signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which made New Zealand a British Colony. More information about the Treaty at www.nzhistory.net.nz/category/tid/133.

We will be on the road soon and out of contact for at least the week if not more starting Monday so if you would like to send us an email before we leave please do.

Patrick

Posted by patandkari 22:51 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Northland Holiday

overcast 73 °F
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Last weekend our hosts at Avalon gave Pat and me two days off to explore. So Friday after planting a few bulbs and whacking some weeds we headed north. Our plan to discover as much of New Zealand as possible is going well so far.

Our first night we camped at the tip of the Karikari peninsula (that’s my name!). The campsites here are different than in the states. Instead of being separated individually the campsites are all just in an open field. Not much of a problem, but certainly they don’t allow for any of the privacy campsites in the US do. We set up camp and headed down to the beach for a sun down stroll. As we were trying to fall asleep I heard the familiar noise of a possum. I got out and tried to find him, sadly I have yet to see one alive. My late night possum search did however manage to let enough mosquitoes in to make for an unhappy Patrick in the morning.
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Saturday morning we headed for Cape Reigna. The cape is one of the northern most points in the country and sits at the end of the 90 mile beach. We arrived at the cape after what seemed like a long drive on a gravel road. Pat and I were surprised to find the cape was packed. Apparently Cape Reigna is a huge tourist draw. There were three or four big buses loaded down with tourists. The buses load up further south and then drive on the 90 mile beach up to the cape. Despite the crowd Cape Reigna was beautiful. We walked down a path to the lighthouse, upon looking out into the sea noticed waves from two directions colliding - the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.
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After enjoying the point we headed for Te Paki, the giant sand dunes. Driving to the dunes was harrowing. The tourist buses which at the point seemed so docile loaded down with pale Europeans seemed to ignore both speed limits on the road and traditional road safety values. After being nearly run off the road by two full size buses and one short 4 x4 bus we turned off the main gravel road and headed to the sand dunes. Though there were no tourist buses to run us off the road to the dunes we were almost comprised by a police SUV, which like the buses was speeding and hogging the road. Thankfully we made it safely to Te Paki.
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I have never seen anything like the dunes. They were enormous. We walked along a stream bed and ended up on the 90 mile beach looking out over the Tasman Sea. The beach was empty in both directions to the horizon, a 90 mile beach without development or even people. It was unreal. On our walk back to the car we hiked up one of the largest dunes to get a better view and take some photos. The smooth sand engulfed our feet with each step. At the top we met some sand surfers (people use body boards to ride the dunes, it looks a lot like sledding on snow), and then headed back down.
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Saturday night we camped at a small campground along a river near the ocean. The area wasn’t quite as nice as our first sight but we made due. Sunday we headed back towards Avalon stopping occasionally along the Pacific shoreline to stretch our legs and explore. In a tide pool in Doubtless Bay we saw two true starfish - in my opinion a perfect way to end our holiday.
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Kari

Posted by patandkari 19:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Matauri Bay

Our first adventure to the Northland Beaches

sunny 77 °F
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Our host family returned from their vacation on Monday to find their house and business still in order thanks to our hard work. It was not really that hard, we just fed the animals and answered a few questions from the guests and paid the cleaning lady.

Since we stayed around all weekend to look after the place they let us kick off a little early on Tuesday to sight see. We wanted to see some of the beaches that this area is famous for so they told us of a couple of their favorites. We packed up the car with sunscreen, some food, plenty of water and took off.

We headed north from Kerikeri to Matauri Bay, which was the first beach along the scenic loop we were going to be following that afternoon. Matauri Bay was a beautiful beach that was open enough to the ocean to get some ok waves. It is where most beachgoers go if they want to play in the water (we saw plenty of body boarders and surf kayakers). It is also what is considered a busy beach in the area, although we saw maybe 50 people along the whole half mile of beach, which we were told was a busy day. Another interesting thing about Matauri was that it was not very sandy. Instead it was covered in seashells, some broken into tiny little pieces the size of buttons and some still whole. The water here is so clean that it almost glows turquoise and deep blue in the intense New Zealand sun.

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After a short visit at Matauri we left and headed further north along a very pretty but very small country road. The roads here are very narrow with no shoulders and not very well maintained. In places the road has started to slide away and instead of fixing the slide they put a wooden fence halfway (not an exaggeration) into the road to block off the gaping hole that drops away down a cliff. The speed limits are very funny because the posted speed in many places is often not obtainable unless you are driving a Ferrari.

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We continued to stop at the beaches along the way and explore each one a little to get a feel for what they were like so that we can return to which ever suits our mood in the future. After reaching Tauranga Bay we turned around and headed for Mahinepua Bay which Betty said had a nice 2 hour hike out a peninsula.

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The hike was gorgeous as you can see from our pictures here. It was easy going for a time but just before we could reach the final point, which didn’t look to have the greatest view, we ran into a problem. Gorse, our nemesis. It had completely taken over the trail and as we were both in sandals and beach attire we were in no mood to fight through a whole sea of it to get to the last point which was not even all of the way to the end of the peninsula. Although we both hated to we turned back and spent some time on the beaches that were tucked into coves located on the hike.

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After we got back we stuck our feet in the ocean and had a light snack before heading home to eat a nice meal at Avalon.

Patrick

Posted by patandkari 20:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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