NZ's oldest, tallest, and most northern

On this trip we've taken in some top rating sights

The oldest stone building - the Stone Store at Keri Keri, built between 1832 and 1836

The oldest wooden building - Kemp House, or Mission House at Keri Keri, completed in 1822

Oldest and tallest tree - Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old and 45 meters tall.

The northern most point - Cape Reinga

The oldest church - Christ Church in Russell, completed in 1835-6

The oldest licensed hotel - Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell, licensed in 1840

World's largest ceremonial war canoe, 35 meters long

Waipoua Kauri Forest

We headed over to the west coast to see some of New Zealand's oldest kauri trees. We set off generally following the road signs to the Kauri Forest, but also with directions from Google maps. At one point I noticed we'd missed a turn on the route suggested by Google, but we hadn't seen any road sign ... we decided to turn back and follow the Google map - it looked like a much shorter route. Well, it turns out we should have just kept driving!! About 10kms after the turn off we hit a gravel road with a road works sign. There weren't any road works, it was just a very narrow windy gravel road for the next 40kms!!! Oh and it was a logging area, so we encountered a few logging trucks heading in the other direction!! What should have been a 90 minute drive turned into a 3 hour saga!! We got there safely in the end, spent about half an hour looking at the trees before jumping in the car and heading back. We had a ferry booking at 5.45pm and had to be back at Paihia so we could head out to Urupukapuka Island for our romantic sunset dinner!!

Cows on the road ... we had to drive right up to them before they gently ambled away

The Four Sisters kauri trees (you can't really tell in this photo, but there are four trees there)

A fern

Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) - NZ's largest and oldest tree

View across Hokianga Harbour from Omapere

Pohutukawa in full bloom

Sun setting at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island

Pre dinner cocktails

Cape Reinga

We made our way up the winding road to Cape Reinga at the very top of New Zealand. It was a long drive from Paihia but it was nice to tick it off the list of places to visit.

Here are a few snaps from the Cape

Sand dunes at 90 mile beach ... the beach is over the other side of the dunes, but this is as close as we could get to the beach with our rental car!

We stopped at Mangonui on the way back for fish and chips. This fish and chip shop makes it onto all the tourist websites as a top highlight. It did seem pretty popular and the fish and chips were good ... plus the little town is on a beautiful bay.

Keri Keri and Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Time for some New Zealand history.

We spent the morning exploring the historic sites at Keri Keri.

First stop a replica of Rewa's fishing village, named after Ngapuhi chief Rewa. It is an early Maori fishing village, as it would have been when Europeans first arrived in New Zealand.

I'm not exactly sure when the site was created, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't been maintained since!! It's a very half hearted attempt and you definitely don't get a sense of what it would have been like to live there.

Next stop the Stone Store and Kemp House. New Zealand's oldest stone and wooden buildings. Both have been well maintained. You can only look through Kemp House if you go on the tour, but it was well worth it to hear the history of the house and they have recreations in each room to show what life would have been like - plus some of the original furniture and equipment, including the dining table and kitchen tea kettle.

View of the Stone Store and Kemp House from Rewa's fishing village

The Stone Store ... now a really good quality souvenir shop. If you take the Kemp House tour you can also access a museum on the top floors of the Stone Stone.

Kemp House - NZ's oldest wooden building.

Tui in the gardens

Next stop - Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

There is quite a good information centre, with a timeline of the major events from the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, plus background stories about each of the major historical figures involved. Also quite interesting is the translations of the Treaty from English to Maori and back to English again ... definitely some content lost in translation!!

Welcome into the Carved Meeting House

Cultural Performance inside the Carved Meeting House

Ceremonial War Canoe

Northland Getaway

We're off to Northland for what I thought was going to be a beach holiday. Unfortunately, the weather didn't make for great beach time, so had lots of little (or long) road trip adventures instead.

We flew into Auckland on Sunday evening. It was very quiet and we struggled to find a restaurant that was open for dinner!! Either they are usually closed on Sundays or they were closed for the Christmas break! So we went for a wander down by the harbour - we found a few places open but the wait time was about an hour. We eventually stumbled upon on a Mexican restaurant that was really nice!! The food was really fresh and tasty!

Our Auckland hotel was a bit disappointing - I was expecting a little bit of luxury, but it was just adequate. Nothing wrong in particular - just not much thought had gone into the decor, it would be perfectly good for a business person for a short stay. Anyway - we weren't there for long so it didn't matter at all! The breakfast was great tho!! We had a feast that was big enough for lunch too!

We had a small hiccup with the hire car. I waited at the hotel with the bags while Reid collected the car - he came back with an old bomb! So back to the hire car place to swap it out for the correct model! They were so disorganised. Apparently a number of people's bookings were mucked up!!

Road side stop to get a pic of the pohutukawa in bloom.

Then off to the Kauri Museum. It was a great stop and worth the detour!! They had lots of exhibits about how the Kauri was logged - chopped down, transported, milled, used, etc, plus lots of nice pieces of furniture.

View from the Matakohe (location of the Kauri Museum)

Post office at Matakohe

Picture from inside the Kauri Museum


Reid and I headed through to Central Otago for a short stay between Christmas and New Year. I found this great little cottage (the Burn Cottage Retreat) just out of Cromwell. It was really cosy and well appointed. It had everything we needed in the little kitchen and the setting was beautiful ... not to mention the garden where we could pick veggies for our dinner!

The view from the kitchen in our cottage

Lavender outside the cottage

Me collecting potatoes from the garden for dinner

Typical Central Otago landscape

Cooling off down by the lake

Jackson Lookout - overlooking the meeting of the Kawarau and Clutha rivers.

We walked up the Old Reservoir track from the Jackson Lookout for views over Cromwell

Lunch at the Gibbston Valley vineyard. The setting was beautiful, we had a lovely time, but the food was a bit average and the service was pretty poor. It wasn't their fault that two car accidents had occurred just before we arrived, but they forgot to take our order. Then Reid ordered a starter and main, which they bought out at the same time!! I was going to have a dessert but they never came back to our table so I decided to leave it ... I was pretty full anyway.

Wandered through Historic Cromwell - they have lots of old buildings with original equipment that Reid could play with ... including this old printing press

We attempted to have a picnic by the lake for dinner, but it was just a hilarious disaster!
We forgot the salt and salad dressing - for Reid this meant dinner was ruined! Because we also forgot a bottle opener, Reid popped the bottle top off with a knife. On any other day this would have worked, but this time it took the lip of the bottle off instead of the lid. We left it too late to go to the lake so the sun had disappeared and it was a bit cold. But the clincher was the wind had picked up, so we were getting blasted with gravel dust! By about half way through eating we had to pack up and head back to the cottage!! I couldn't stop laughing!!

We went for a walk through the old mining sluicings - where the area had been water blasted for gold. It does make for a really interesting landscape!