As you can tell from the blog title, this place was at the top of the north island in New Zealand, above Auckland. So what’s in Northland? Lots of beaches, sand dunes and Cape Reinga – a sacred place to the Maoris. There’s also a forest but we didn’t really go there.

We saw lots of cool beaches on Tutukaka coast and chilled out by a few with a good book (currently rereading Wheel of Time as I gave up on halfway many years ago, hopefully I’ll finish the whole series of 14 books before going back to the UK!) and some picnic lunch.

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Interesting factoid, below is the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere. We only walked half way as we couldn’t be bothered to walk the whole length, it was still pretty long.

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We also saw some beautiful artwork, there’s a couple of really good galleries and here’s a few pictures of what we saw.

 

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Below in Whangarei, we went out exploring and found this guy who is a glassblower who came from the New Forest originally, haha how small is the world but he’s never been back since moving to NZ in the 70s I think. He used to study Chemistry and something else too at the University of Southampton until he dropped out! You could tell he was a master at it and there was this really cool bit where he swung the glass like a pendulum to lengthen the neck of the vase.

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Nearby structure. Despite the blue skies, it pissed with rain after and we were soaked.img_9064

We decided the evening before to go on a boat trip in Russell (Bay of Islands area) as the weather looked good (it’s been rubbish pretty much the whole week). We went out on a sailing trip on the Phantom, a 50 ft racing boat built in the 70s. It was pretty cool and a lovely day as you can tell from below. I think the below is black volcanic rocks.

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The Phantom! Rick and Robin took us for our journey, we were fortunate to be the only passengers on board. They previously lived on this boat for 18 years and bought their son up on it, how incredible is that? If it was Chris and I, we would have killed each other already.

The boat trip was awesome, one of the best days on our travels, it almost made me wish I knew how to sail (and own my boat) so I could enjoy more days like this again.

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Captain Cook was the first European to set foot in the Bay of Islands. We were dropped off here at Roberton Island for an hour and climbed to the top of this little hill where you can see 2 lagoons joined by a beach and then wandered about the lagoons themselves.img_9089img_9101img_9102

Another beach somewhere else but so pretty.img_9112

A brief interlude in case you’re bored of beaches (yes we got bored of beaches), we stayed at this place where a little lamb called Lucy thought she was a dog. She pooed everywhere and chewed a lot of stuff she shouldn’t have.

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Beach time is not possible without some ice cream. I asked for a single scoop of caramel and mine was as big as Chris’ 2 scoops. Hah!

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You’ve got to have a nice breakfast once in a while. img_9108

I didn’t realise New Zealand had sand dunes! It was amazingly big the one we went to – you can just about see the specks of people beyond Chris below. The hill was super steep too, maybe 30 – 40 degrees. I gave up and meandered off to the side where it was easier to climb without killing my calves.

So I did a little research and here is a short blurb on how sand dunes are formed:

  1. it builds up during settled weather,
  2. wind and waves move the sand to the surf zone forming a sand bar that reduces the energy of the waves.
  3. sand is moved back rebuilding the dune, plants grow down the face of the erosion
  4. when sand is blown onto the land, the plants trap it thus building up the dune

This is the site where I got my info from and it has some useful diagrams, check out pages 5-8

http://www.nrc.govt.nz/contentassets/ef16e23f75d34a129f73fa83acba4a4a/our-dunes.pdf

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Sand dune by the sea!

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Another sand dune below.

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So at the top (ish) of Northland is Cape Reinga, this is a sacred place to the Maori. It’s where the spirits of the dead leap off the 800 year old tree to return to their homeland.Apparently it’s also where Tasman sea meets the Pacific Ocean.

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Hope you enjoyed lesson time, here’s a treat of some cool artwork for you below:

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The next part of the journey will cover travelling down the east coast of North Island (not Northland).

(Current update: by the way, we’re still in New Zealand until mid December and have just flown to South Island a few days ago).

 

 

 

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