WEDNESDAY to THURSDAY, 12th and 13th October

I waved goodbye to Welly at 10 a.m. and then had a change at Palmerston North. I thought we won’t leave Palmerston N, because the bus didn’t want to start. That what happens, when I travel too much, but when the technical support came, the bus started after the push. There were no more adventures for the rest of my journey to Napier. The eastern landscape of the North Island was a little different from what I got used to on the west. The hills were taller, roads were narrower and worse and there were more sheep than cows on the hills.

I arrived in Napier after 4 p.m. and stayed again at the BBH hostel, Andy’s Backpackers. The girl at the reception, who was German with a Polish name, said that the hostel needed some renovations. It did. Someone told me once that while YHA hostels are almost sterile clean and tidy, BBH hostels have their own character. I find it to be true. And people are different. Sure, you have to look after your stuff in the kitchen more carefully, but they’re more open to talk and I guess there’s this sense of sharing. 😉

I left the luggage and went for a walk. The town was quiet, like every other smaller town in New Zealand after 5 p.m. when the shops are closed, so I had time and space to admire the art deco architecture. But I didn’t take any photos then, because I was getting hungry and was on the hunt for some fish & chips. I found them at the Breakers. They were more expensive than usually, but I got so much food that I had enough for dinner for the next day.

The beach in Napier was so different from the ones I had seen in Paihia or anywhere else. No sand but pebbles and the closer the ocean the smaller they were. It was dangerous to swim there, but it was very pretty.

Napier was destroyed by an earthquake on 3rd February 1931, many people died. Many buildings were rebuilt according to the contemporary architecture fashion which was the Art Deco style. I took a long walk around the town on the next day. I think Christchurch will need more time to be rebuilt, especially when the earth is still shaking from time to time there.

This building was one of not many buildings which have Maori motifs. The other one is the ASB Bank.

At Deco Centre you can watch for free a short documentary about the city.

I had a coffee at Cappadonna, which according to my guide book was the best one in town, but after Midnight Espresso and Fidel’s in Wellington, every coffee is not good enough anymore. Next time I’m in that area, I want to stay in Hastings, try BJ’s pies and have a tour at one of the vineyards there.

These fellas, when they saw me with my camera, wanted to be photographed and they made sure I was going to put it on the Internet.

Going back to the hostel, I visited the beach once more, which wasn’t that difficult, because it was right across the street from the hostel. The sky was clearer and I could see the cliffs on the south and more land on the north. I was overwhelmed by the size of the Hawke’s Bay!

I was going to go for a walk in the evening after dinner, but it rained heavily, so I stayed in the hostel and finally caught up on what had been happening on Shortland Street. 😉 And got angry at what has been happening in Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and the rest of the Bay of Plenty for the last couple days. The oil spill from one boat made so great disaster for the wild life and those beautiful towns and cities, that I can’t imagine what could have happened if the deep sea oil drill were put into motion and a disaster like at the Mexico Gulf took place. All what New Zealand is now, would be lost. “Rena” just proves the point of the Greenpeace and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui fighters. John Key is so going to lose this coming election.

I had already booked a hostel in Rotorua. I’d been thinking of going to Coromandel or Tauranga, but since there’s no good bus connection between Rotorua and Coromandel, I think I’m going to go to Tauranga to see the mess myself and even if I don’t end up as a volunteer to clean up the beaches, I can always take some photos and spread the warning news.

90 Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, Puketi Kauri Forest

Before I tell you how I met two All Blacks today, there are still many days to fill you up with, so be patient. Besides, this day is not over yet, and I’m expecting more celebrity sightings. 😉

Using free WiFi at the Wellington Library, without further ado:

TUESDAY, 20th Sept.

The coach came to pick me up after 7 a.m. and then circled around the streets to collect the rest of the tourists. When the bus was full, the bus driver welcomed us with a Maori song and as it usually happens, he talked about the Northland and what we pass along the way. In Kerikeri I saw kiwifruit plantations (kiwifruit grows on trees which look like a vineyard) and near Waipapa there was a company, Olivado which produces world famous oil used by world famous Jamie Oliver. The bus driver also paid our attention to a fence decorated with bikes. ‘The farmer must have had a big family’, he said. It reminded me of two famous fences in New Zealand, one decorated with bras and the other with toothbrushes.

We passed Taipa, where Polynesian voyager Kupe is said to have made the first landfall at its beach. He discovered the North Island around 950 A.D.

We had our first stop at Ancient Kauri Kingdom. It was also a chance to buy a sandwich for later for those who didn’t buy lunch from the company. By the way, I was travelling with Sights. The combo trips (Cape Reinga on one day and the boat trip on another) cost me $159.

The note in the last photo is for those who were coming back from the beach, but you must admit, that taken out of the context, the information looks funny.

The driver decided to drive along 90 Mile Beach on the west coast first before the high tide. The beach is actually 64 miles long, but it was named by early settlers who travelled 30 miles a day and it used to take them 3 days to travel the beach, hence 90 Mile Beach. The driver explained, ‘64 Mile Beach doesn’t sound right; 90 Kilometer Beach neither, so they stuck with the 90 Mile Beach name.’

At the end of the ride we saw a big rock sticking out of the sea. The driver said that according to Maori legends, that was the rock where Maui moored his boat when he was fishing. He was a good fisherman and pulled out of the water a big fish which is now the North Island and we were driving on its tail. The South Island is Maui’s boat.

When we stopped to put our feet in the Tasman Sea, the sea and the rock looked like a painting.

In Te Paki we stopped for sandboarding. I went down twice, because the dunes were huge and you already know that I don’t really like climbing. It was a great fun, though.

And that’s our driver:

At about 11 a.m. we arrived in Cape Reinga. I was wondering if I could really tell where the Tasman Sea ends and the Pacific Ocean starts. I could! Looking from the top of the hill, I saw the turquoise waters of the sea on the left

and calm dark blue ocean on the right.

We spent about 50 minutes getting to the lighthouse and back to the bus. So far the weather had been sunny with one exception when we were at the cape. But the rain wasn’t strong, so there was nothing to complain about.

We were returning along the east coast, stopped for one hour lunch near Ancient Kauri Kingdom, then again at the Kingdom for the bus washing from the sand and salt and finally in Puketi Kauri Forest for a 15 min walk. You couldn’t get off the built track because 1) the ground was pretty damp and 2) you could have brought a disease on your shoes, so better keep away from the trees.

One Kiwi with an Australian flag on his cap said that he hadn’t seen more beautiful trees in his life and he had spent his last 40 years in Australia and even in Tasmania they didn’t see anything like that. 🙂

The forest was very close to Paihia, so it was the end of our trip. Even though I was pretty tired, I went for an evening walk along the beach. The weather was nice and I was thankful for that.

from Gympie back to Kippa-Ring


I think it was my favourite day of that excursion. We got up pretty early, ate delicious breakfast – porridge and then bacon and scrambled eggs and were ready to go. We didn’t go to explore Gympie, which had its best moments during the Gold Rush (I just found out that it used to be called Nashville!). The boys took me up north-west to Rainbow Beach. It’s called like that because of different colours of the sand.

First, we stopped up at the sand dunes. The colour of the sky was so intense in contrast with the bright beige sand. It wasn’t until I saw this photo when I believed I was there and it wasn’t photoshopped. This is this kind of picture that you see in one of your friend’s facebook albums and you think why you don’t have such holidays like your friend. Well, now I have.

Yes, they were that big!

Then we drove down to the beach and I had my first encounter with the Pacific Ocean.

Then I wetted not only my feet.

me in the Pacific 😛

More photos from Rainbow Beach on the photoblog.

Before it got dark, we went to Inskip Point where you could see Fraser Island and the ferry. Water there was peaceful and there were some people camping, fishing etc.

Then just a quick look at a small town Tin Can Bay and the low-tide and onto our way back home.

Obligatory road sign photo: