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 :-)
Steps leading back up from Maori Caves on the Okere Falls River at Rotorua
All shades of lush green at Hanumara Springs. That has to be the clearest water I have ever seen.
One of many wharves around Lake Rotorua, This one is on the south side of the lake near the airport.
The Indian Garden at Hamilton Gardens. If you've never been then it is well worth a visit as there are garden types from all over the world linked together by various paths and tunnels.
On the day we visited the Hare Krishna were in the Indian Garden providing a great sound backdrop to a wonderful space.
Tirau, the town of corrugated iron structures. Believe it or not this is part of the towns Information Centre.
No walk through the bush is complete unless you stumble across a koruna gently glowing in the sunlight.
No, we've not decided to buy a cat ;-). This is one of the cats that are free to roam around the Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village. He was a gorgeous and very friendly thing greeting all the tourists and following each group around until the next lot arrived.
Members of the Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village cultural show.
Sure is steamy in Rotorua
We were amazed to see when we visited Lake Rerewhakaaitu again that the lake had receded so much in just a few months. On our last visit the water would the been lapping at the end of these boards!
The beautiful New Zealand Falcon at Wingspan Rotorua. This is a must visit for an afternoon if you are in the area.
Catching the lure as they would hunt for prey in the wild. this bird had been shot and was being rehabilatated at the centre to return to the wild again once strong enough.
The Huka Falls in Rotorua is a treacherous and incredibly powerful stretch of water. These crazy guys were kayaking down and over the falls.....mad!
Cicadas at the Huka Falls were numurous and deafining! This particular one decided to stop by for a ride as walked along the falls.
Having successfully negotiated the falls this kayaker waits for patiently for his two mates to make the leap.
Ngongotaha in Rotorua was our base for three weeks. It took a few visits before the weather and sunrise combined to enable the capturing of this view.
The eerie mist of the thermal lakes drifts across these sticks in the mud.
Trees cling on to the edge of a thermal takes a lot of determination to survive those conditions!
Bench at Mt Manganui. 
As we made our way through the middle of the North Island the cloud cover lifted just enough while having a coffee to reveal these power lines.
This old barn sits just off the road in fields of corn just outside just suited a really old looking photograph style.
Sunset at Lake Wairarapa
Boot level on a bridge crossing the Waiohine Gorge
Some other tourists enjoying the swing bridge quite a long way above the Waihonine River
A group braces the wind and rain at Castlepoint
Another mad photographer risks himself and gear to get the image he wanted
Just love the ruggedness of Castlepoint on a stormy day
One of many cafes in Greytown. The shady looking character coming out of 'Cahoots' was too good an opportunity to miss
Our view from our spot in the Upper Hutt not too far from Wellington 
One tree sacrificed for a view from the top of the Rimutaka's.....nice view though.
Moa Point on Wellingtons south coast.
Getting up at 4am to see the RNZAF Airshow at Ohakea didn't feel quite so bad when I got to line up the rising sun for this image.
Everyone with eyes up to see the opening of the airshow
That does not appear to be a fair fight ;-)
One of the jets lighting the afterburners and deafening the crowd.....that pilot has way too much fun for a job!
Nice that they so subtly point the way for when they need to move this monster
Someone taking time out in Wellington
Another traveller enjoying the view of the Marlborough Sounds as we came in towards Picton. Smoothest crossing we have ever had, nice to be home :-)
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