This month saw us cover quite a bit of the North Island, as after 16 very interesting months, we get back to the South Island. There is a little bit of trepidation involved in getting back on to the other island with the huge Kaikoura earthquake happening while we were not there and the impact that has had on the roading system. That trepidation is balanced with excitement though as we get closer to family again and the rugged landscape the South Island is famous for.
The first half of February was spent in and around Rotorua, part of which was acting as tour guide for my Mum and Aunt around the area. It was fun to be tour guide and show some of what makes our life on the road so special to us. The trips out included visiting the natural spring at Hanumara which is the clearest water I have ever seen. Watching a duck as it went underwater sifting the river bed for food then pop back up to the surface was amazing and you could not have seen it clearer if you were under the water with it. We also took in the Living Maori Village at Whakarewarewa where you get a great sense of the history of Maori and what the land means to them. Wingspan, our incredible centre for looking after the New Zealand Falcon and other birds of prey. Seeing my Mum and Aunt with birds of prey sat on their hands was priceless. Finally, not forgetting, Rotorua itself which is dotted with geothermal activity and and aroma all of its own ;-)
From Rotorua we hitched up and made our way through the centre of the island stopping overnight in Taupo watching a stunning sunset over the lake before continuing down to Greytown in the Wairarapa region.
As we pulled into Greytown we remembered it from our journey north over a year previous and how cute this little town is. During the week it is pretty quite but the weekend's see Wellingtonians arrive to enjoy the food, wine and numerous boutique shops turning this sleepy little village into a hive of activity. It really is a great place and was a fantastic stop to base ourselves to explore the area. Surrounding Greytown are the wonderful hills of the Tararua Ranges, wine galore in Martinborough and the stunning coastline of Castlepoint if you don't mind the journey out there. Castlepoint is a great destination for a walk on a lovely clear day, but, get there on a stormy day and it is quite spectacular to see the waves crashing into the rocks.
For our last part of the month we based ourselves just outside of Wellington in the Hutt Valley. From here we could easily get into the city where I was able to catch up with a friend for some city street photography, across to the lovely seaside town of Paraparaumu Beach where we caught up with some old friends we'd not seen in almost two years. I was also lucky enough to get some time at the RNZAF 80th Anniversary Airshow with another photographer. What a stunning day that was for weather, company and the incredible airshow which ran like clockwork (as you'd expect from the military), my ears may still be ringing from the jets!
So, another fun filled month draws to a close and we found ourselves on the ferry heading to the South Island. A 5pm crossing allowed us to see the Marlborough Sounds as the sun was setting on a mirror calm crossing.....doesn't get better than that for a welcome home :-)