The Coromandel Peninsula

At the risk of last weeks’ blog post of where to go in New Zealand’s North Island being too much, here is Part 2 (blushes).  What can I say… there were simply too many photo’s for just one post last week and this amazing part of New Zealand really does deserve it’s own stage.  Case closed.Whitianga at dawn

WHITIANGA.

THE PLACE:  our base in Coromandel was Whitianga, somewhere we will absolutely return to.  An exceptionally beautiful sea front looks out over the bay which joggers frequent every morning.  There are also a handful of cafés and bars such as we had expected but not found at Mangawhai.  The town centre has a good amount of shops/places of interest and a couple of big supermarkets so we felt it really was a place that ‘has it all’.

Whitianga SunriseWhitianga Sea FrontDrinks in Whitianga

The Harbour and Marina provided an ever-present buzz… people catching clams, heading out on the water for the day… or returning home with their catch as we witnessed below!Marlin

The location of Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula means it’s excellent for exploring nearby beaches.  We took a trip with Cave Cruzer for a few hours which was the most fun!  Our skipper was truly excellent; unlike some ‘guided tours’ where they are clearly on auto-pilot, Steve kept us all well-entertained as well as knowing Mercury Bay inside out.

Sharks Fin Rock

Shark Fin Rock

Champagne Rock

Champagne Rock

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

VISIT:

Hahei Beach

Hahei Beach

Cooks Beach 1

Cooks Beach

Cooks Beach was a favourite of all of ours.  The shallows go out for miles and if you park at the far end, near the estuary, you get a feeling of being a little detached form the rest of the 3km beach there and as such, is slightly less busy.

Cooks Beach 5Cooks Beach 2

That dot in the distance would be Miss P, still only up to her ankles.

Hot Water Beach is a well advertised place – we went to see what the fuss was about.  The idea is that you dig in the sand  (everyone had a garden spade!  We did not) and the temperatures are about 40 degrees.  Quite a sight to behold and we did push our feet into the sand (and burnt them) but there were too many people for all our liking…Hot Water Beach

…So we walked a little further along where the surf was intense and the kids got their first real taste of waves this powerful.Lifeguard on Duty The Surf at Hot Water Beach Fun Times at Hot Water Beach

STAY:  We chose our Bach (house) for the amazing views, spaciousness to accommodate six people with ease, and facilities.  We were not disappointed.  Harbour Lights Holiday Home can be found on Bachcare here.  The house was amazingly well-equipped including everything we needed for the beach such as new snorkelling kits, body boards, life jackets etc. The only let-down was there was no wi-fi, something Bachcare told us they are working on with house owners in New Zealand.

Sunrise at Harbour Lights Harbour Lights Interior Drinks and shells Breakfast at Harbour Lights

EAT: The Espy Cafe.  Owing to needing wi-fi for my work, I discovered this place on day one.  So it followed, ever morning at 8am we went for pancakes and our wi-fi fix!  The pancakes were insane and the sights of the Marina waking up made it quite perfect.

Salt Salt Restaurant and Bar has such a beautiful setting.  The food was exquisite and though this wouldn’t be perhaps a place we would take the kids for regular meal on an evening, as a last night specialty it was perfect.

Salt Whitianga 1

Salt Whitianga 2

Now we have a very dear family in New Zealand, I hope it’s not too long before I can share other adventures with you. For now, this concludes chapter 1. OX~

Happy Girls on Cooks Beach

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New Zealand; Exploring the North Island

A couple of months ago we went to New Zealand for a family vacation to the North Island.  Travelling to destinations by car, we managed to see quite a few of the sights but returned, I’m sure, having only scratched the surface!  It’s been rather a task sorting through over 1500 photos but finally have the edit.  Will keep this short and sweet and just say here’s where I’d recommend going.

MANGAWHAI HEADS

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THE PLACE:  After landing into Auckland, our first destination, Mangawhai, was about 2 hours drive North.  Life there was so laid back,  we couldn’t have planned for a more relaxing transition into Kiwi lifestyle.  There are two beaches, the fistula beach and the surf beach, both are naturally stunning!  The dunes surrounding the beaches provide much sand-surfing fun.

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STAY:  We stayed with family in their Bach from which these amazing sunrises and sunsets were captured – however there are plenty of Bach’s available to rent on Bachcare.

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VISIT:  A boat is an excellent way to explore the coastline.  We indulged in as many water sports as we could; would highly recommend snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve.

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NAPIER & HAWKES BAY

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THE PLACE:  In contrast to Mangawhai, Napier is much more commercialised.  Known as the Art Deco capital, it’s a place that transports you back in time.  From the beautiful 1930’s architecture, to the shop fronts and signposts, everything has such a wistful charm.  We only had chance to visit the town itself for a few hours on one of the dullest days of the holiday, yet it still had wonderful character.

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STAY: The Colonial Lodge Motel.  They seem to like their Motels in Napier.  As such, accommodation was largely decided for  us owing to family on both sides of the wedding party staying here also.  Prior to arriving, I was not sure about this one as the website does not do it any favours!  However, The Colonial was absolutely spot on for what we needed.  Immaculate, excellent staff and the cutest of very well-kept grounds, we could not fault it and were genuinely impressed.  Would go back.

EAT:  On recommendation, we ate and drank at The Emporium.  Would in turn, recommend it.  Right on the edge of the town and the sea front – bags of character and great food.

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VISIT:  Whilst in New Zealand,  a trip to a vineyard is a must.  Mission Estate Winery is the place to go in Hawkes Bay.  New Zealand’s oldest vineyard and the birthplace of New Zealand wine.  We went for my sisters hen party and so ate there also, simply the most amazing food!  (There’d be more photos but it rained.)

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TAUPO

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THE PLACE:  A vibrant town situated round a lake the size of Singapore.  Lots to do here, great places to shop, eat and explore.

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STAY:  The family rented two villas found on Holiday Houses that were a great find and just 5 minutes drive from Taupo.  We stayed in Oriwa (below) a great base for all eating together on an evening – superb accommodation.

VISIT:  The Huka Falls. In short, the Waikato River (normally 100m wide), is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop thus creating New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.  The 2 hour cruise was too long for me, but there is a jet boat tour available. Well worth visiting.

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VISIT: DeBretts Hot Springs.  A Water Park, Hot Spring Pools and Spa – quite literally something for everyone.  Kids were wildly happy, as were their Mom’s in Spa heaven!  Can be visited on cloudy days owing to the 40 degree outdoor pools.

Brett Springs

EAT:  Lake House.  Great family place; their specialty – food on the stone.  400 degree slabs cook the food in front of you.

That’s all for now, been an epic post but will be a while till we visit again so figured was worth making this one count!  See you next week when I’ll take you to the Coromandel Peninsula in Part 2.

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Heart My Tribe

~O~

Sitting Uncomfortably? Good

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Have you ever gone along with something you felt uncomfortable about which then turned out to be a great experience?
It took a trip to the other side of the world to realise I’ve been living small and didn’t even know it.

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