We had an amazing year in 2016 traversing our way around the North Island. The journals for 2015 and 2016 were split by location, but, a change is as good as a rest so for 2017 I plan to update the journal each month.
We finished 2016 joining what felt like thousands of other tourists trying to find a parking spot in Napier before the fireworks kicked off to start the new year. Not being the most patient of people in crowds I decided to head a short way out of town, park up and walk back towards the centre. We found a great spot on the beach not too far away and waited for the New Year to begin......naturally with the camera ready to roll.
Then there it was, the first fireworks burst into life and a new year had begun.....what will it bring?
Probably the best summary of January experiences has been waterfalls and the wonderful outdoors. We started off with a short walk to the little known Shine Falls about an hour from Napier which is well worth the effort if you are in the area. We also took in various short walks around Napier town enjoying both the art deco architecture and wetlands. Before we bid farewell to Napier we dropped into the winery at Sacred Hill for a fantastic afternoon of sun, food, wine and the wonderful tones of local singer Eilish Rose at the summer Sundayz event. What a great way to finish up our stay in this area.
From Napier we had a complete change of pace and made our way into National Park. We were lucky enough to find a property to stay on from which, on clear days, we could see the three mountains of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe roughly 35kms away.
I must confess at this point to being somewhat obsessed by rugged landscapes which probably goes back to early childhood when we escaped London every summer to head to Wales and the annual conquering of Snowdon. Having spent months and months in rolling green hills and then the dry lands of Napier it was fantastic to be back in mountains with the walking boots and camera getting a thorough workout over the two weeks we were there. We did on this occasion venture on to the Tongariro Crossing but only for a short part of it and then only when the majority of tourists had finished for the day. Our little adventure took us to Soda Springs which is a lovely little waterfall before we headed back the way we came across the lava strewn landscape. I have no doubt the full Tongariro Crossing is amazing, however, as mentioned before I really don't do crowds and it is way too popular a route for us.
Probably my favourite spot in National Park was heading to Ohakune then following the road up to the skifields car park. The views from up there were simply spectacular and I enjoyed a few wonderful hours either watching the sun rise or set. One morning I drove up through the cloud before sunrise for what turned out to be the most amazing few hours as I found myself alternately in the cloud only able to see a few meters in front of me only to find a minute later I was being dazzled by the sun. These are definitely the moments that reward you for an early start and make this journey so special.........and just me there, perfect.
For the last week we have been in Rotorua which, oddly enough, is exactly where we were a year ago. Already though we have visited spots like Okerere where mad tourists wedge themselves into rafts and go over the falls. Springs of the clearest water I have ever seen where you can see the ducks as they swim down to sift food from the river floor before popping back up at the surface like a cork. The amazing Redwoods Forest which was only planted in 1901 and now has trees that tower 55m above you with lots of walking and biking tracks........aff of which we missed last time, well done Rotorua, you continue to surprise and charm me.
Well, that's enough of my ramblings for the start of the year, hope you enjoy the following collection of images of our travels.