Friday, 30 October 2015

Our Kiwi Road Trip Part 5: Waihi Beach to Auckland

Sorry for the late delay inposting the last part of our New Zealand trip, but here goes...

Day 16:
A leisurely start this morning before leaving Waihi Beach to reach Hot Water Beach. 
Hot Water Beach claimed its name due to two springs that sit directly above a hot rock, when I say hot, I mean 170 degrees Celsius hot! However they are 2km below the surface and the springs are known as Maori and Orua and their temperatures are between 60-65 degrees Celsius. The hot water then rises through the fractures, so by digging a shallow hole in the tidal area you can create your own natural spa. The springs are usually accessible two hours either side of low tide, so we needed to time this visit accordingly. Low tide was at 3pm, as we arrived at the beach by 12pm, this gave us a perfect amount of time to grab some lunch before heading down to the beach. There were lots of people with their hired out spades digging their own holes, but we found you didn't even need to dig to feel the heat beneath our toes. We buried our feet under the sand and at points it was too hot to even keep our feet buried a few centimetres under. It was such a bizarre sensation and I can totally see the attraction, but word of advice to anyone going to visit. Get there early!

After warming our toes, we headed towards Cathedral Cove where parts of the film Narnia was set. To reach the cove we had to complete a 45minute trek up and down the mountainside. Before arriving at the isolated beach. The waters were crystal clear and the sand was so soft between our toes. Luckily we arrived during low tide, which allowed us to walk through the cove in the rocks to admire the views beyond. There was no quick way back, so we had to retrace our footsteps. However the weather was beautifully warm today so we didn't mind as much.

We had completed exploring the area by 3.30pm and decided we didn't want to set up camp already so we decided to drive to Coromandel. The road to get to Coromandel weaved in and out of the mountains, so we took it slow in our 7.2metre long wagon as some of the turns were pretty sharp. 
We arrived at Coromandel by 5pm, popped to the supermarket and then set up camp.
We are slowly making our way towards Auckland, but we have a few more days until we have to take the wagon back. So we are defiantly going to make the most of it.

Day 17:

We had read about the Driving Creek Railway and Potteries in a few brochures, so as we were a 2 minute drive from the place, we thought we might as well give it a visit. The centre is home to New Zealand's only narrow gauge mountain railway which snakes 3km up the mountain to a lookout at the top. The track was originally built for Barry Brickell, a full time handcraft potter, to be able to collect his raw materials to create his projects. Now to captailise on the site, even though it is still a full time pottery, they allow visitors to ride that same train line. The views were pretty spectacular, as well as the track itself with all its decorative displays along the way. A pleasant start to the day. We took lots of photos, mainly for Leigh's nephew who is obsessed with trains. He would have loved this place.

The train ride finished at 11.30am, so before heading off on the drive ahead we grabbed a nice healthy lunch at the Saloon, a pizza. The drive to Auckland took 3 hours and like all motorways, as we got closer to the city centre we came to a slow crawling speed. It seems motorways don't differ what ever country you are in.
We found a caravan site at Northcote, on the Northshore of Auckland. We didn't get here until 4pm, so we went for a little wander around the area before settling down for the night. We decided we were going to explore Auckland in the morning, that should give us time to catch the bus because there is no way we will be getting this size wagon parked anywhere. So until tomorrow... Goodnight.

Day 18:
We got the bus into Auckalnd city centre this morning, after a slow lazy start. We still had plenty of time to explore, however when we arrived it was pouring down with rain. So we chose to take a trip to Auckland's SeaLife Centre to see all the amazing creatures on display. The free shuttle bus wasn't arriving until 1.30pm, so this gave us plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before heading out. Even though the aquarium wasn't the biggest we have been to, it still had a vast selection of different creatures. I loved seeing the King Penguins and I never realised how big they actually were. There were lots of penguins sitting on their eggs, as well as a few new fluffy chicks waddling about. Obviously seeing the Sharks is a highlight for everyone, but I loved the turtles and the octopi. Hopefully we get a chance to see these animals in their own natural habitat at some point during our world wide trip. 

The rest of the day was spent grabbing a coffee, catching the bus back to the site and then cooking dinner. One more full day left tomorrow before our New Zealand trip draws to an end.

Day 19:
We decided to move campsites this morning so we would be a bit closer to the depot to return the motorhome tomorrow, also we would get to see a different part of Auckland. So we headed just South of Auckland, parked up and then headed out. There was a shopping outlet easily accessible by bus, so we thought we might as well go have a look. We spent most the morning and afternoon wandering around the shops, picking up a few pieces for when we head back to Australia. 
The bus took an hour to get there and an hour to return. So this shopping trip took up all of our last day in Auckland. I cannot believe our trip has finally come to its end. Tomorrow will be a sad day for us both.

Day 20:
Today is the day we say goodbye to our wagon and head on back to Australia. We dropped off the motorhome by 9am and caught the bus to the airport. Mid journey, Leigh realised he had stupidly left his wallet in the van, so we took the trip back to the depot. 
Take 2: We arrived at the airport by 11am. Checked in and headed towards the gate. We have both had an amazing time in New Zealand. We have been to some beautiful places and seen some amazing sights. I would recommend New Zealand to anyone thinking of travelling this way. I certainly will be returning at some point in the future, as I know there is still so much to see.
So for now New Zealand, see you soon for it is time to go meet the parents in Sydney!