Tag Archives: north island

Big Trees – Tane Mahuta

A good day trip always starts with cake. This time our car took us west to the Hokianga Harbour where we made a quick coffee and cake break in Rawene. With little in the town apart from a car ferry connecting the north and south of the harbour, we snuck into the shack cafe for homemade cakes and Flat Whites. After all, we were on the hunt for big trees.

Back on the road you notice how strange the landscape is. Jungle bush for miles and miles, then rolling sand dunes for as far as the eye can see. We stopped at one View Point to check out the Tropical Cyclone building up in the pacific. The skies were stormy and the sea dark.

Dress :: ASOS  Necklace :: H&M  Bag :: Marks and Spencer  Sandals :: Zara 

Sean pointed out the rare birds and wildlife circling around us and before the heavens opened, we headed back.

On the walk back, we spotted a deserted beach. No footprints in the sand, and no clear access. It left me thinking how perfect it would be on a sunny day. This is New Zealand, paradise that you can call all yours.

Back on the road, we resumed our search for the Big Tree.

And then there at was. Tane Mahuta. The largest standing Kauri tree in New Zealand. At 51 metres tall and a huge 14 metres in “girth” (hate that word), it really is massive.

We all gathered around for the compulsory “picture by the tree” and helped others get their “perfect snap”. If you fancy reading some more facts about Tane Mahuta, I was kind enough to take a picture of the information board just for you…

And so this marks the end of our New Zealand adventure.

For those who have not visited New Zealand before, I hope I have given you a good taste of the Kiwi life. It really is one of the best places on earth. The crazy landscapes and tiny towns in the middle of the south pacific means many of the “tourist” sites can be visited and enjoyed by you and you alone. The best times to visit are between November and March (summer). You will not be disappointed by this jaw dropping country, I promise!

 

Paihia, Celebrating

So after the most beautiful proposal the night before, we woke up the next morning to muzzy heads and a severe champagne hangover. The best way to get rid of a raging hangover? A high speed powerboat ride apparently.

The “Mack Attack” seemed the obvious choice and I mean, look at it! If I ever did see a Batmobile…!

Obviously I couldn’t stop staring at my new bling…

But unfortunately for us, the boat broke down just outside of Paihia bay after a few minutes of high speed action. Very apologetically, they turned the boat around and back to the bay we went. Its amazing how much of an appetite you can build in just an hour on the sea!

We found a lovely little cafe with a little sun terrace, wonderful views and L&P (if you haven’t tried it you should!). It was a lot more hangover worthy that a speed boat ride I’ll have to admit.

That afternoon, we decided to hit the road once again and headed to the local town of Kerikeri to visit the Stone Store. To my relief, it wasn’t a store that sells stone, instead the oldest stone building in New Zealand. We didn’t visit the upstair living quarters because, well, lets face it we’re British and a 18th century building is certainly not old by our standards. Lucky for us there is the most amazing gift shop filling the whole ground floor. We picked up some decoration for our new home and headed back outside and into the sunshine.

The gardens are equally as beautiful, where ducks roam and families have picnics on the waters edge.

We decided on the bush walk to Rainbow Falls which meanders through the bush alongside the river.

With tired feet and the reminisce of a hangover still lingering, we headed back to Paihia for a snooze before our engagement celebration meal later that evening.

The Puretastes Restaurant is one of Paihia’s most luxurious fine dining restaurants. We were seated at our table and the hostess kindly took our drinks orders. Naturally, we all ordered fine New Zealand wines to start.

Then took our orders from the small menu. First up, a selection of hummus and pitas. Unfortunately this is where the meal began to go downhill. The pitas were terribly overcooked and crispy and the hummus was just far too garlicky.

Scott and Gemma shared the Seafood Platter which looked wonderful.

For mains, Jennie went for the Sea Bass and I chose the Rack of Lamb. Neither were creative or had any real taste, but we didn’t let that ruin our celebrations.

A few glasses of wine later and we were ready to call it a night. I wish I could recommend the Puretastes Restaurant, but I was completely underwhelmed, especially for the price of the meals. I also was kept awake all of that night because of the awful taste of garlic, really, not pleasant at all! If you’re staying in Paihia, I could not recommend 35 Degrees South more. Great value for money and incredible locally produced food.

Russell, The Bay of Islands

The next adventure for us was another gem of New Zealand that so far both me and Scott had never visited, The Bay of Islands. Renowned for its warmer climate and beautiful bays, it was another on the bucket list to visit.

From Wellington, we took the short flight to Auckland and picked up a car. A 3 hour car journey later, we arrived in Paihia late in the evening so settled in for the night in our apartment. The next morning, the sun was shining so we took the short boat trip across the harbour to Russel.

Russell is the former capital of New Zealand and was the first European settlement place. Back in the 1800’s, it got a pretty bad rep for vagrants and prostitutes so was named the “Hell hole of the Pacific”. Today, that could not be further from the truth.

The small promenade is lined with fine eateries and wine bars.

After a short walk exploring the town and it’s beautiful holiday homes, we’d worked up quite the appetite so headed for the Duke of Marlborough Hotel for lunch.

We ordered from the vast wine menu and I seemed to break the mould by ordering a rose spritzer with ice, apparently its not all that common in New Zealand!

Next up, the food. Since the wedding, I’d been craving Green Lipped Mussels, so for me the Green Thai Curry Mussels were the obvious choice.

Perfectly spicy and larger than life. Scott choice was a little more suited for lunch, the rump steak sandwich with homemade slaw.

Along with a sharing plate of Oysters.

And Gemma had the deliciously smelling seafood chowder.

The food was absolutely incredible and possibly the best meal I’d had since arriving in New Zealand. We laughed over ice cold wines, exchanging stories since the last time we were together.

After lunch, we hit the promenade again and headed for the flagpole in the hills.

After the steep walk through the bush, we made it to the top. The views of the Bays were amazing, although it reminded me somewhat of Poole Harbour back home (on a nice day, obviously).

After our long walk, we caught the boat back to Paihia for the evening. Bay of Islands, I’m loving you already.

Later that evening, Scott suggested that we go out for dinner just the two of us. I wasn’t feeling too great, so I flung on a plain dress and off we walked to the wharf for a seafood tapas at 35 degrees South (which is pretty damn good by the way). A few bottles of prosecco later, we stumbled back along the shore towards our apartment. It was then that Scott stopped me in my tracks, turned me around to point out the flagpole in Russell we’d climbed earlier that day and explained how ironic it is that we were here, in such a historic place for the Kiwis and English. As I turned around, there he was on one knee, under the stars, and asked me to marry him. It was one of the most perfect nights of my life.