While most of our time during this period was in the Bay of Plenty we did spend a small amount of time just over the border in the Waikato so I also have a few notes and images from Cambridge and the Waikato River.
Like the Coromandel we'd been to the Bay of Plenty earlier in the year and this time decided to head back to Matata as our base. Absolutely love the site at Matata which is run by the Department of Conservation (DOC). Most DOC grounds are a free for all but Matata is run more like a commercial campground with allocated areas although it was that quiet when we arrived we were told we could pick our spot this time around. (I think the wardens are a lot more relaxed at this time of year i.e. before rather than after the Christmas and New Year chaos!). A beautiful beach just 30 meters from your front door, glorious walks along the coast and through native bush and a great town in Whakatane with excellent coffee and food (The French Patisserie), and friendly locals.........all in all, one of my favourite areas in the North Island.
We also spent some time parked up on the banks of the Waikato River near to Lake Karapiro. This stretch of water and the lake are very popular with rowers, water skiers and jet skis. Having tried a jet ski, being behind a boat on both skis and a biscuit I'm not really sure of why they are so popular but judging by the screams of joy and squeals of laughter then it would seem I'm in the minority ;-). On the plus side early in the morning the water skiers did make for some interesting images.
The last few weeks have also included some time back at Lake Rerewhakaaitu. This beautiful campground run by DOC is just stunning and, as we realised on our last day, extremely popular over the Christmas break with families. We started off with around 5 vans scattered around the camp site with the closest around 20 meters away......the last day we were surrounded with boats, tents, badminton nets and various other child and teenage paraphernalia.......never ceases to amaze me how much gear families can bring with them! Not that we can really say too much now having invested in an inflatable kayak which we used a few times out on the lake. Certainly gave a different perspective on just how idyllic the location is looking back from the middle of the lake :-)

Early morning light on the beach at Matata
The grasses at Matata glow in the evening light
A church we found on a day trip around the East Cape. This was right by the edge of the sea, beautiful location
This tree caught my eye as we headed down this dirt road towards the East Cape Lighthouse
One of three piers we found on our travels around the East Cape. This one is in definite need of repair!
Tolaga Bay Wharf......it goes on, and on, and on.......and then on some more!
Not all days were picture perfect at Matata, and this one was wet and windy........but it sure was dramatic with the low clouds
While we sat having a coffee on a walk around Whakatane this Tui kept us company singing away to itself
The light was just right to capture this pathway of flowers
Another stormy day at Matata delivered this beautiful rainbow on the horizon finishing up in Whakatane
You do meet some interesting characters while travelling around. This guy 'pimped his ride' to have one of the funkiest mobility scooters I've ever seen!
The Avanti Velodrome in Cambridge is home to Cycling New Zealand training and is a stunning venue. Well worth a visit.
We were lucky enough while there to see the NZ Cycling Team in training. They are that quick that the coach leads them around and around the track on a motorbike!
A misty start to the morning on the banks of the Waikato River at Horahora
It took a lot of shutter clicks to finally capture this Welcome Swallow in flight......worth it though :-)
Pastel skies bring the day to a close over the Waikato River
Early morning light and dense bush behind this water skier made for a dramatic image
It doesn't get much more Christmas in NZ than the flowers of the Pohutakawa at a beach......thank you Mt Manganui for the location
The walk up the Wairere Falls is as spectacular as the falls themselves. If you'd prefer not to get soaked on the viewing platform at the top of the falls after a 1.5 hour climb......don't go on a windy day! It was refreshing though ;-)
Beautiful church in Cambridge
Taking a rest on the banks of the Waikato River after a hard morning's fishing
The blue hour just after sunset at Lake Rerewhakaaitu on a particularly calm day
A splash of colour that surrounded me on my walk along the edge of Lake Rerewhakaaitu
Just loved the uniformity of rows of trees one after the other separating out the paddocks.
Tourists enjoying the must do jet boat experience at Huka Falls
Looking back to the campground at Lake Rerewhakaaitu from the middle of the lake, simply beautiful
Last light of the day at Rerewhakaaitu
Our spot by the lake......before everyone starting to arrive for Christmas
Just loved this dead tree by the edge of the lake.
Another 'last light at Lake Rerewhakaaitu' on another calm and lovely day
The milky way over Lake Rerewhakaaitu about 20 minutes before the moon came up. Such a crisp night the stars were beautiful and a calm lake just added the extra layer of detail I wanted.
Our final evening at Lake Rerewhakaaitu so thought I'd add in a couple of the kayaks from numerous water gear strewn along the shore ready for the following days activities.
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