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Feb
14

We enjoyed a short walk down to the town last night for dinner in a street closed off as a mall with heaps of places to choose from. I liked Nelson which was a surprisingly big and vibrant town which somehow reminded me of Launceston in Tassie, not sure what it was, could be some of the architecture and just look and feel of it.

Today was just a glorious day of riding with beautiful bendy roads, not too much tight stuff and not all that much traffic we couldn’t get past and the scenery was all kinds of spectacular from rolling hills and rugged mountains to scoured limestone cliff faces and finally the pancake rocks and blow hole in Punakaiki. Could have taken 2 days to do the same distance just to get a fraction of the ooh and aah shots we rode by. We really are fortunate to be here …. And yes, I know there are lots of photos but today Norm took 91 and I took 93 so very restrained … just saying!

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Dinner was lovely in the outdoors and the vibe in the town was lovely … delicious burger and local beer as well.

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First stop was Wakefield which was evacuated with the Nelson bushfires last week and beyond. They have been back for 3 days though still some side roads closed off by police. This was our breakfast spot and below is the sign outside their door. Great to see.

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All sorts of quirky geography as we ride.

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Stopped for a great photo of water and cliff face…...

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To find out it is a 1-way road under an overhang. Quirky again.

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Main street Westport which was our lunch spot.

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Saw the sign for Cape Foulwind and just had to see it…..had a giggle on the way seeing a B&B called (Sea Whispers) which sort of didn’t match with the picture I had in my brain. This is the current lighthouse built in 1926 and the remains of the foundations of the original timber one built in 1876.

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Returning to the main road from Cape Foulwind. Gorgeous views again.

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The things we do to get great pics. There was a sign 10km out and this was around a 25km signed corner, I think it should have been a 15 km, but we are in an allowed spot, just the end of it.

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And this was one of the great views.

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Another rugged cliff face on the way to Punakaiki.

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An example of Pancake Rocks. Limestone which has been scoured by water making its way through. Incredible sight. Some of it looks artificial.

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And again,

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And some faces as well.

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Awesome Cliff face again.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Century Park Motor Lodge

197 Rutherford Street

Nelson NZ 7010

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A stunning property which was obvious from the moment we rode our bikes up to reception. The whole property inside and out is immaculately clean and tastefully presented. We were met with a friendly and knowledgeable welcome by owners who couldn’t do enough to maker us feel welcome and valued. The unit was beautiful and was a FOC upgrade as they needed to rearrange other customers to suit another booking, so we had a roomy self-contained unit well supplied as well as a balcony which allowed a delightful cool breeze. Air-conditioning Yay. Walking distance to many dining options. Beautifully comfortable bed. Parking on site, no charge … and the owners asked if we wanted to put our bikes in their grange so of course we said yes and free Wi-Fi but for some reason wouldn’t hook up for me to do my blog. Not sure if it was a capacity issue or what. Information booklet comprehensive and all bases covered. Very impressive. Well done guys!


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Feb
13

Our hotel last night was a short walk to the waterfront which was rather cute and historic at the same time so there were lots of eating options as well as having the advantage that it was only 5 minutes to the Interislander Ferry this morning to head to the South Island. The Ferry was obviously a newer edition to the fleet than the one we came north on so more options to sit and a really smooth passage as well. Once we landed, we headed straight off north west around the top of the South Island and headed via some awesome climbing and bendy roads to Nelson which is a large town and has a huge working port.

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Beautiful historic building right on the waterfront in Wellington.

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And another, this one used to be the Bond Store in very early years now it’s the Wellington Museum.

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A work shot of the Wellington Harbour. I had tried to get a shot of a departing cruise liner, but I missed it.

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And plenty of modern buildings around as well. 

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Looking back at the harbour as the ferry turns around to get underway.

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Was a lovely sunny passage and the views of the water inlets and harbours were beautiful.

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The Sister Ferry heading in the opposite direction.

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Picton Harbour from a vantage point soon after we headed off. That’s our ferry in the background.

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Another work shot in Nelson as a commercial vessel heads off from Nelson Harbour.

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A view of a small part of Nelson from a very steep residential street.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Ibis Wellington

153 Featherstone Street

Wellington NZ 6140

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A small studio suite but functional all the same. Air-conditioning. Yay! Small but well-appointed bathroom. Room to sit and literally in the heart of the city. Staff terrifically helpful and welcoming. Parking available under the building, another Yay. Restaurant and bar on site so well catered for if you don’t want to venture out. Free Wi-fi and only 5 minutes to the Interislander Ferry so very handy.


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Feb
12

Palmerston North is one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand or so the brochure says. There are many lovely buildings and a university (Massey) which by the size of the trees surrounding it and several older buildings has been here a long time. Like most universities there is much new building occurring as well as a Vetinary Training Hospital and all sorts of other Agricultural areas represented. There is also a Military base close by and someone must have been misbehaving this morning as we got rounded up by 2 police cars then a Military police car as we were heading to our breakfast spot. We headed off after a nice breakfast on the square and had a lovely albeit short riding day including a ride back over the Saddle as well as over a challenging pass between Featherston and Pakuratahi. There were signs up warning it was a high risk motorbike route and let me tell you it wasn’t from the road, that was in great condition and a good width in spite of the bends, the risk was from the gale force winds on some faces of the hills and we had to make sure we stuck to the middle of the lane we had available and keep enough revs up to ride through the wind rather than be tipped over by it. A bit hairy in patches.

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The Square in the middle of town in Palmerston North was once the cross over point of the trunk line rail lines, now it’s a lovely green spot with many gardens, sculpture water and ducks. This is the town square clock in the middle.

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The Building where our breakfast Café was, Cafe Express.

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And some more close by. On our way out I saw a lovely old Art Deco Theatre named the J C Williamson Theatre.

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A very poor shot over the top of the saddle. We had gone through some drizzle and the sky was very grey. Shame, the outlook is lovely.

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The Tui Brewery, been brewing beer since 1889 south of Woodville. One of the locals told us they use the water from the local river because it’ the right colour and the locals used to call it swamp river. Gotta love the locals.

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Typical of a lot of the lovely countryside we rode through between Masterton & Carterton. A lot of it wasn’t as sedate as this but we take a shot when we can.

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We lunched across the road from here and the shop face appealed to Norm with the old Bedford radiator grille displayed.

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 A pull over for a quick pic on the pass between Featherston and Pakuratahi. Couldn't put the stand down to park the bike it was so steep it kept rolling off even in gear. Looks flat in the pic. Weird.

 Last nights’ accommodation:

Rose City Motel

120 – 122 Fitzherbert Avenue

Palmerston North NZ

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A lovely newly refurbished studio unit and looked and felt nice and fresh and clean. Very roomy with couch and arm chair, dining area and a kitchenette with a hotplate microwave and fridge. No air-conditioning but a fan. Generous size bathroom. Large TV and fast Wi-Fi. Great effort.


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Feb
11

Headed off early this morning and grabbed a look at the Huka Falls which always amaze us. They are in the narrowest section of the Waikato River which is the only outlet from Lake Taupo and the volume of water there even at the end of summer is phenomenal. Then it was breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo and then we continued with what was a lovely ride through rolling farmland, high country resembling Scotland 1,035m above sea level and very chilly with the ground covered with what resembled heather interspersed with grasses and in the distance mountains with traces of snow on them. We had lunch at the little town of Taihape then explored more rugged countryside where sheep and cattle grazed on rugged hills or great plateaus and for good measure great cuttings of the waterways into the hill faces leaving what looks like massive clay faces. All kinds of spectacular.

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Huka Falls from the lookout above. To the right above the Huka Lodge, a runaway spot for the rich and famous is visible.

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Breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo.

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And we weren’t the only ones having fun.

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Another shot a bit further along the Lake.

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Through the high country. You can see the mauve of the heather, but it’s blurred as Norm was mobile, but you get the idea. That's Mt Ruapehu & Mt Gotongariro in the background.

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Welcome to Taihape, a clever (big) Gumboot built from corrugated iron.

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A shearing shed with a very quirky mural.

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And when the hill is undermined by the water it washes down into the stream and leaves some spectacular cliff faces. We followed this trail for many kilometres and were staggered by how many we saw.

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From the Stormy Point Lookout on the way to Fielding.

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Norm having fun.

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And me as well.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Quest Rotorua Central

1192 Hinemoa Street

Rotorua NZ 3010

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A lovely spot to stay here. A 1-bedroom apartment with air conditioning, Yay! Plenty of room to move and sort out our gear and be self-contained if we wanted to be. Also, a hot tub on the balcony but we haven’t been inspired to try that. The bed is beautifully comfortable, Wi-Fi fast and heaps of free movies and all sorts of attractions advertised on the TV which the hotel can book for us so a handy service for visitors. Staff extremely welcome and helpful. All round nice spot to stay and handy to heaps of shops and spots for dining out. Very nice.


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Feb
10

We slept in until 10am then grabbed some breakfast at the farmers market just a short walk from our hotel then jumped on the bikes to explore the Californian Redwood Forest which was planted by a pastor many years ago believing with the NZ rainfall it would be a great source of sustainable timber. Unfortunately, because of the rain it grew too fast and remains too soft to suit the purpose but is an amazing forest to experience.

From there we headed out to have a look at the Blue and Green lakes then back into town to check out the Hot water baths and museum, had some nachos and beer at an Irish pub … that means we are really on holiday as it’s the only time we do that. 

Rotorua is renowned for its hot sulphur springs and baths and depending on which way the wind is blowing can influence the comfort levels. Norm has been reminding himself to stop attempting to apologise all the time …and that’s all I’m going to say about that.   

Rotorua is also a great spot for all sorts of activities if youre feeling a lot less creaky than me and you will just have to come and find out for yourselves.

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In the Redwoods.

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And again.

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And the two of us.

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The Blue lake is a favourite swimming spot for the locals.

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This was the view I was after …. A photo of a photo in our hotel. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong season for tulips and there are major repair works happening so the following is what we got instead.

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And looking towards the hot water baths.

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And a good-looking bike at the gate to the complex. The last time we stayed here we were in an historic hotel across the road from here. It was very quirky.


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Feb
09

Our accommodation last night didn’t have an on-site restaurant as such but thankfully with 3 hours’ notice a meal can be provided in the conservatory which was great since we were a few kilometres from the shops, and we like to get off the bikes after our day and stay off. The room was lovely and beautifully presented and we had a small balcony to sit on and chill in the breeze, well I did as I did the blog and Norm took the Mr Sheen to the bikes … as he does. I am a lucky girl!

Today we headed to Rotorua with a couple of spots of interest on the way. Apart from the great ride we checked out the Te Tapui Reserve trying to find a lookout and after a good distance on gravel roads were grateful to come across a farm worker who assured us unless we wanted to hike through forest we wouldn’t get there so we headed back to the black stuff and continued on to the Hobbiton Movie Set which was a great experience then headed into Rotorua for a couple of nights.

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Breakfast in Huntly and discovered it used to be a black coal mining town (there is still a large power station using coal and gas) until 1914 when an explosion, the second worst mining disaster in New Zealand occurred killing 43 and injuring another 19. Not surprisingly the mine closed soon after. The town appears to be still struggling with many empty shops. This is part of a 100-year memorial near our breakfast spot.

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Morning Coffee at Morrinsville, a tidy town amid a productive dairying area. Norm was a bit miffed that I parked up more easily than him.

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One of the more memorable buildings in the main street and 2 of many artistically decorated cows!

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Then to the Hobbiton sight and one of many Hobbit houses. Very quirky.

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The visitors in the only hobbit house we could go in because it was larger than a meter square space.

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A long view to the Green Dragon where we had a delicious ginger beer.

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The artificial oak tree since the film was filmed in winter and it needed to be in full leaf. A steel and foam frame and 200,000 + artificial leaves wired on…. now that’s commitment.

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The Green Dragon and my own hobbit taking a photo to the left.

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And a view back to the mill to the right of the bridge. Just loved the huge pine trees which gave an awesome backdrop to everything.

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And dinner at the Pig & Whistle in Rotorua which we discovered on our first trip to Rotorua.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Manor Views

24 Upland Road

Waterview Heights, Huntly NZ 3700

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A beautiful old building built in 1926 as a maternity hospital which has been lovingly restored into a boutique accommodation venue. The room is a standard king and the largest we have had so far. There is also a small balcony which was a nice spot to sit and take in the view in the distance and a cooling breeze. Free Wi-Fi as we have found everywhere but it is a good speed here where some haven’t been. Everything here is immaculately maintained and beautifully clean and the manager or owner was extremely obliging. We felt very welcome. The conservatory where we had our dinner (ordered 3 hrs before) and where you can have breakfast was just beautiful.


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Feb
08

A little cooler night and fine comfortable day today with light sprinkle of moisture only this morning. We had breakfast in Russell which by the way was the sight of the first NZ capital but was later changed to Wellington because the reputation of Russell, Hell Hole of the Pacific was not desirable and with the stroke of a pen Auckland was named the capital, and later Wellington and Russell was burnt to the ground. Hmm, it is a charming spot today. From here we wound our way down the west coast with spectacular ocean and island views before heading across the island on the Twin Coasts highway to get to Huntly tonight where we are staying in a lovely old building built in 1926 which was originally a maternity hospital.

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Heading off on the ferry to Russell.

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An appropriately named breakfast spot in Russell – Hell Hole Café in the street behind the Duke of Marlborough Hotel where we lunched yesterday. It was the first licensed hotel in New Zealand and as you would have seen in my post yesterday it had traded for a number of years before it was legitimised.

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Elliot Bay, one of many beautiful spots but I could stop to take a photo of this one.

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The bikes attract attention no matter where we go … here by tourists and chooks alike. Bizarre on the edge of the motorway but I suspect the chooks have learnt that tourists throw them scraps.

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Heading across on the Twin Coasts Road and an awesome view back to the east coast before we are really heading west.

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And an interesting bridge in Huntly.

Last 3 nights’ accommodation:

Dolphin Motel Paihia

69 Williams Road

Paihia NZ

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Short walking distance to the shops and shoreline and a nice green outlook. We are in the older part of the complex in a small studio suite with no air-conditioning, but a fan was provided (I really must read more closely and not skim) but well maintained and serviced. Comfortable bed and table and chairs on the balcony which is a lovely breezy spot to sit. Staff very helpful and friendly. 


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Feb
07

Rain overnight and patchy this morning so definitely made the right call for our cruise yesterday. Temperature a little more comfortable also.

The team split up today. Norm headed for Cape Reinga the northern most tip of the North Island, and I opted for a sleep in and a quiet day of wandering through shops, buying another book and generally chilling and making out like I’m on holidays.

The pics are a mix of Russell which we visited yesterday and will also take the car ferry to tomorrow when we head off and some from Norm’s ride today. Russell was originally established as a whaling town known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific with heaps of hotels and bordellos and no law and order. When the whaling left a lot of hotels closed and a few bordellos and gradually law and order arrived. Is a beautiful spot now.

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The Duke of Marlborough Hotel Russell, Operating since 1827 … legally since1840. A beautifully preserved building where we had lunch yesterday. Would love to stay here sometime.

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A view out to the harbour from the hotel on the Strand. Picturesque to say the least.

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Norm’s breakfast spot at Cable Bay.

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A little damp at Cable Bay and got more so as he headed further north. Got back to Paihia very damp but elated.

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Massive sand dunes visible from the Cape

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And a beautiful beach, but a long climb down to get to it.

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Not to mention the Cape Reinga Lighthouse which is a long trek from the carpark. This is the most northerly point of the Cape.


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Feb
06

So we were having a leisurely dinner and spoke to a gentleman who in fact was part of the motorcycle group we saw leaving this morning, so the name is ‘Tu Tansata’ which is translated to ‘Man Up’ and stands for 'Raising Fathers to save our children'. Love it. It was lovely to talk to him and share the fact that their values are also ours. Well done guys. This is the back of a T Shirt of one of their members. Not sexist or anything else … just about giving kids a go and keeping families safe. Love it!

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Feb
06

It was a public holiday today, as it was the last time, we were here but it was on Monday that year. This is the day February 6th when hundreds of motorbikes make a pilgrimage ride to Cape Reigna the northern most tip of the North Island and we unknowingly drove there on this day on our last trip. There were hundreds of bikes there and we saw hundreds coming and going as well so we’re not missing that traffic today.

Our plan today was to explore the Bay of Islands as this areas is known as, from the water and ultimately to visit the most eastern tip of the island and see the Hole in the Rick as well and it couldn’t have been better weather with sun and calm winds, thankfully especially for Norm who is an even more green faced sailor than me.

It really is a spectacularly beautiful place and one which Captain James Cook mapped and said at that time it was the most populous place he had found in New Zealand. Sort of hard to imagine all the islands here being so inhabited since they’ve pretty much all gone back to bushland except for one which is part bush and is the only one open for camping … and has resident sheep to keep the grass down to minimise the fire risk. Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up.

Anyway, I’ve mercilessly culled many beautiful photos and have included just a free for an idea of it.

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On our way to have breakfast and catch our boat we came across a couple of hundred bikers heading out for Cape Reinga. They were members, we are told of a Brotherhood and Sisterhood which was formed to support and encourage traditional fatherhood, eradicate domestic violence and to save young people from alcohol and drugs. I have been unable to find the name online as there has been such a history of very scary bikie gangs here. In any case I wish them well.

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1 of 3 camera cars with them.

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The only bottle nose dolphin photo I got, I was too busy looking at the real thing and there were many. This pod are semi-permanent residents here, but the species usually roam up and down the east coast fishing. I guess these ones have figured it’s no longer necessary to roam. The regulars are all known by the crews of the tourist boats and many of these have been here for over 20 years with regular newborns as well.

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A lovely Bay of Islands view.

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The hole in the rock and yes, we did motor through it. They only manage it about 30% of the time as it depends greatly on the swell and weather. Today was a perfect day. 

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And again.

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Coming out of the hole.

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A long view to the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi the birthplace of the New Zealand Nation, a short distance from Paihia where all the festivities were held complete with the Prime Minister apparently. We could witness the traffic jam from the water, and it wasn’t much better on our return from Russell after lunch.

And there was supposed to be a pic of the Wellington which we passed on our way out this morning and which we witnessed giving a 21-gun salute as the flag was raised this afternoon....but after over 15 attempts it wont happen so I'm over it!

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Then a helicopter to ????

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And more beautiful views.


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