Welcome to the Miller’s trip to New Zealand.
Bags packed and ready to go
Just waiting in the lounge to board the plane on the first leg of our journey. \240We’ll be in Dubai at about 7 am Dubai time. \240They are 4 hours ahead of us, so 3 am UK time.
Sunrise on the way to Dubai at 39,000 ft
Can you spot the mountain peeking though the clouds?
Arrived at Dubai, after a 2 hour delay at Gatwick. Connecting flight delayed by half an hour. Relaxing in the lounge before our 16 hour flight to Auckland.
The view of Dubai from the plane as we take off on our way to Auckland.
Watching live football at 39,000 feet.
The view of the harbour bridge from our room on the 34th floor.
Woke up to a beautiful morning in Auckland
So we took the passenger ferry across to Waiheke Island
There we hired a car and explored the island, it has such different landscapes from pristine beaches to rolling green hills.
Today we picked up our hire car for the week a lovely Hyundai Tucson and explored the western Auckland region taking the route 24 scenic drive.
Stopping of briefly to look at the view at off the beaten track Cornwallis.
Then continuing on route 24 to the Arataki Visitor Centre to learn about the rainforest in the Waitakere ranges.
Looking out from the visitor centre at the Lower Nihotupu Reservoir then out towards the Wairopa Channel
The view of the Auckland city skyline from the base of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Auckland Sky Tower lit up in red and green for Christmas.
Then we noticed that the colours were changing.
And the bridge too
We left a rather damp and dreary Auckland this morning to travel north the Bay of Islands.
Along our trip north we visited a famous surf beach, which even on a day with large waves had a volunteer life guarding service.
We stopped for lunch in Wharigārei at the Hunderwasser Art Centre. Famous for his use of tiles and glass.
In the toilet
I can see you
Continuing our drive north we found a look out post that Dave was brave enough to climb.
We made a friend.
Finally arriving in Paihia where we will be based for the next few nights.
Today we explored around the Bay of Islands, starting off with the Haruru Falls near Waitangi
Here we also saw the first of many wild domestic birds, including these cute little chicks.
We then moved on to KeriKeri, where we visited some of the oldest western houses in New Zealand. \240They were selling a hotchpotch of all sorts of things like carpet beaters, flintlock guns and fat quarters for patchwork quilting. Quite a mixture from times gone by.
Karen got friendly with the local ducks
We could see a Māori meeting house on the other side of the river.
We then headed north and explored the area above KeriKeri. Driving many miles on unsealed roads, trying to find secluded coves with no success. The views were fantastic. Plenty of sheep and cows along the way. We ended up by a lake where they were practicing Māori rowing.
We ended back at Paihia for a leisurely lunch before heading back to our accommodation. \240This is the view from the restaurant.
Today we thank God for 50 years of happy married life. \240We took the car ferry over to historic Russell, where again there are some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand.
Above used to be the Pompellier mission and printers and below is the first church in New Zealand. \240
Lots of beautiful flowers grow in New Zealand. The Agapanthus, which we love, and struggle to grow at home is every where and people are discouraged to grow these beautiful plants.
A calm sea from the shores of Russell.
From Russell we went over Flagstaff Hill to Tapeka, where we walked on the beach and while we were sat in the car saw dolphins playing in the cove in the distance.
From Russell we took the long route home and stopped off at a lovely gallery and cafe looking over Helena Bay
Today we decided to have a bit of a drive around and see the Tasmin Sea. We stopped off at a lovely little cafe in Rawene for coffee and cake before getting on the car ferry across the Hokianga Harbour.
We carried on north to the bottom of 90 mile beach at Ahipara, where we saw the Tasmin Sea and the tyre tracks of the cars that had driven along the beach.
We carried on our long drive and had ice cream at the lovely harbour at Mangōnui.
We took a diversion off the route we were following to discover Taupo Bay where we sat and watched the surfers having a surf lesson.
Just a few miles down the road exploring another harbour we came across Te Mama Museum which was unfortunately closed but the buildings had some great murals and old machinery outside. We also saw some Pukeko birds and their cute chicks but we weren’t quick enough to get the camera out before they disappeared into the long grass.
Arriving back in Paihia we had a wonderful fish and chip supper, served in paper \240before finishing the day at Opua harbour admiring the boats
Today we continued to explore this diverse and beautiful Northland area of New Zealand. Our first stop was in the Puketi Forest admiring the ancient Kauri trees and sub-topical rainforest.
We then tried to find a way to get close to Lake Ōmāpere but didn’t manage to find a way, so this was as close as we got.
We then moved on to explore more of the Hokiamga Harbour that we crossed yesterday.
Managed today to capture a picture of a Pukeko.
Finally we stopped at Waitangi to admire one of the best views of the Bay of Islands
Today we left the Bay of Islands and travelled south to just north of Auckland.
This was the view from our breakfast table this morning.
We stopped off again in Whangārei this time exploring the river, alongside the Town Basin. Here we saw eels!!
And the different ways that New Zealanders decorate for Christmas. If you look closely you can see the train that was going around on top of the boat.
The view down the river.
We also revisited the beaches we passed on the way up, in much better weather now though.
Langs Beach with Hen and Chicken islands in the distance.
People surfing and swimming at Mangawhai Heads.
We finally arrived at our lodgings for the next couple of nights at a lovely vineyard with amazing views.
A bath with a view anyone?
Having a little time before our dinner tonight we explored the area. \240Our host told us about a reserve not far away. A place where nature, farming and recreation are trying to live in harmony. Once through the pest control gates we were met with many Pukeko birds, but there are other rarer birds on the reserve like Kiwi although we won’t see them as they are nocturnal.
We carried on to the beach where again people were out surfing and swimming.
Today we explored the area where we are staying near to Matakana. \240We first of all went to visit a Scuptureum were we spent a couple of hours admiring the artwork
We then moved on to exploring the beaches and villages.
Here they don’t seem to decorate their houses but their postboxes. Here are a couple of examples.
We got caught in a rather heavy downpour which lasted about half an hour. Then the sun came out and it was lovely and warm again.
This is Brick Bay just after the storm.
Today we left our wonderful lodgings in Matakana and headed south to Auckland Airport to catch our plane to Nelson in the South Island. It was very strange not having any airport security checks and where they still gave out free drinks and biscuits and even a sweet to suck while the plane is landing.
The water looked rather choppy through the Tasman Sea between the North and South Islands.
After picking up our car for the week, a very large Mitsubishi Outlander, we drove the hour or so to our accommodation for the week at Motueka which is on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. Then explored the area.
Here is the entrance to the park through a Maori carved waharoa (entranceway) at Mārahau. \240It tells the storey of migration of the tūpuna (ancestors).
This is the bay at Motueka at near high tide
This is the beach at Kaiteriteri which is down the road, where lots of boat tours and water taxis are.
This is Stephens Bay which was very quiet.
We are in our chalet at Abel Tasmin Lodges in Motueka. Woke up this morning to a visit from a Tui bird. Just one of the rare birds in NZ.
Tui bird outside window
This is one of the fabulous bays as you enter the Abel Tasmin National Park.
The statue below represents the Māori tribe that used to live in the Park.
Below is another view of the bay at the entrance to the Park.
These birds visited us in the car park at Te Waikoropupū Springs
Below is the entrance to the Springs giving lots of information about them. The Springs are one of the clearest in the world. No contact is allowed from humans and animals. Heavy fines are imposed on those who disobey the rules.
Scootering along enjoying the scenery
Below is a notice at the beginning of the walk around the Springs.
The picture below shows how clear the water is.
Another view of the Springs.
The video below shows the Spring bubbling up.
These springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere, with a clarity rating of 75m, meaning they also contain some of the clearest water ever measured.
Today started very wet so it was late before we left for the day. We explored the local town of Motueka and the Quay there. Here we found the wreck of the Janie Seddon that was built in 1901, fired the 1st shots for the New Zealand division of the Royal Navy in World War 2 and was eventually run aground in this location in 1955 to be scrapped.
We moved on to Māpua a lovely little village with some shops and restaurants. As it was still raining we decided to drive around the area to see what there was.
We found this settler’s cottage with a thatched roof.
As the weather improved in the early evening we returned to Māpua for dinner. This was the view from our dinner table, and we watched a Cormorant diving for its dinner and youngsters jumping of the Wharf.
We saw this rainbow developing over the Marlborough Hills in the distance as we left.
On arriving back in the village we are staying in, we sat and watched the darkening sky and calm waters for a bit.
Happy Christmas Eve. Today we explored Nelson City and its Cathedral which had a Christmas Tree Festival. We had dinner overlooking the sea and then went back to the Cathedral steps to sing Christmas Carols, including a couple of New Zealand specific ones.
The Christmas tree at the Cathedral Steps.
One of the many Christmas Trees in the festival inside the Cathedral. Appropriately, tea cups for the Cathedral Office!
The view from the top of the Cathedral Steps
The cactus garden in front of the Cathedral
Nativity scene in the Cathedral Gardens.
The view from our table at the Boat Shed, where we had dinner.
Carol singing at the Cathedrall steps. \240The Dean welcomed people from all over the world who were there to join in the celebration.
Below are two recordings of the \240specific New Zealand carols.
At Christmas We Carol
Happy Christmas. Today we had a lazy morning and in the afternoon we travelled to an area called Nelson Lakes in the mountains in the Nelson region. We stopped off at the second largest lake which is Lake Rotoiti. Here we stayed and watched as people launched their boats, paddle boarded, swam and waterskied.
Rare Long finned eels
Later we watched the returning tide and the reflections of the setting sun, back in the village where we are staying.
The cheeky Pukeko that visits our deck
We started the day with a three hour ride on a water taxi. \240It took us to various beaches in the Abel Tasmin Park. A tractor took the boat to the launch area and we sped off stopping at various points to let people off to laze on a beach for a few hours before returning, or to walk the Abel Tasman coastal track. \240We did the round trip and saw lots of seals both in and out of the water. We also went to quiet lagoons which are only accessible at high tide and only by boat. They were so beautiful.
A video below of the boat being launched into the water.
Off we go.
This is Split Apple Rock. Named after the area which grows masses of apples.
On the boat.
A video of one of the beautiful lagoons.
Two videos of the coastline.
After dinner tonight we went for a walk into the Abel Tasman Park. Pam scootered along and we had to keep up! \240
Karen and Dave looking out over the bay at low tide. Soon the water will reach this point.
An unusual sand formation.
Today Karen went on a half-day kayak while Pam and Dave had a relaxing morning, back at the lodge.
If you look closely you can see a Little Blue Penguin.
Here is a bit more of a close-up.
We were also able to get close to the New Zealand Fur Seals, which are actually sealions not seals!
We were told about the region and the geology, by our guide Brodie.
Other wildlife seen were stingrays, jellyfish and lots of seabirds.
And we ended up on Observation Beach for lunch, before catching a water taxi back to base.
Today we said goodbye to Abel Tasman and travelled back to the North Island and onto the Coromandel Peninsula where we are staying for the next 3 nights.
We passed many beautiful beaches
And very green hills
Sunset from our accommodation
Today we explored the wild and beautiful north coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, travelling on gravel roads.
South Pacific Ocean
Lovely spot for a picnic lunch
Rare Variable Oyster Catchers
Looking down onto Coromondel Town
We cannot describe how beautiful this coastline is. The photos do not do the places justice.
Driving Creek Railway
Watching the setting sun
Time-lapse of the sunset
We travelled today from the Coromandel back to Auckland for the last 3 nights before we go back home. Our hotel has a view of the Viaduct Harbour and the Sky Tower so we have spent the evening people watching from the rooms and the watching the fireworks from the Sky Tower at midnight. HAPPY NEW YEAR 🎇🎆
Today we went to the Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. \240We saw an exhibit on Scott of the Antarctic, which included some very cute Penguins.
Our last night in New Zealand as we fly out tomorrow night. We were meant to go sailing today but the wind was too strong so it got cancelled. So instead we explored more of Auckland’s Northshore and the suburb of Devonport which is the Naval base for New Zealand.
The view from North Head
Looking over to Rangitoto Island
View from North Head looking towards Auckland CBD
Looking back towards the city from Devonport