The world is a funny place and, invariably due to a multitude of factors, you find yourself in a situation you hadn't planned for. With no obvious places to stay we had written off the idea of exploring the Waikato any further than we had from Mokau earlier in the year. All that changed a few weeks ago though while we were sat enjoying the view and getting ready for some sunset images around Matapouri. As we were taking in the last light of the day we met James and Mandy who had very similar views on life to ourselves and after quite a bit of chatting said that we would be welcome to spend some time on the farm at Thundercross Valley. A few weeks and emails later and we found ourselves leaving Northland and making our way into the Waikato :-).
I'm not one to dwell on negativities but unfortunately we were hammered by rain just about every day of our two week stay which really hampered our usual walking activities. That constant rain does account for why the grass is so green though! Still, it didn't stop us getting out and armed with some new camera gear I found myself capturing all manner of images, some of which you can see below. 
Day trips out from our base at Thundercross Valley (pay attention later my motorcycling friends)  included Port Waikato, Waiuku, Manukau Heads, Auckland, Hamilton Gardens and a fortunate bit of timing of being in Pukekohe at the right time :-)
Port Waikato is a great place and both times we were there we found ourselves chatting to the really friendly locals. On our first occasion the tide was right in and not much beach to see, but the second time the tide was fully out and the beach is amazing. Great spot to be at sunset, the beach is called 'sunset beach' so there is a clue in the title ;-). 
On a trip up to Waiuku we saw a sign for a lighthouse......around 45 minutes later we found it! Great views from this spot up on the Manukau Heads from which you can even see the Sky Tower in Auckland. It was one of those spots which shows the trusting charm of New Zealand has not been lost as you can buy a tea towel with an image of the lighthouse to remind you of your travels and just put your money in the honesty box. But, what if you don't have any money? No problem at all as they have put their bank details on the tea towel so you can send a cheque or pay by bank transfer, brilliant :-)
I've not had any time near a race track in over a year and I really wanted to try out some new gear. With an incredible bit of luck the track at Pukekohe was hosting a corporate hot laps day and they had no problem in me being really close to the track, wahoo. Camera performed great and I had a very big grin on my face as the trucks and cars whizzed past around 5 meters from where I was stood on the main straight.
Now, to expand on my cryptic message above. For all of my friends out there who would love the challenge of whizzing around 700 acres of farmland on motocross tracks then Thunder Valley is the place for you. James is able to offer tuition, various grades of track as well as bike hire. If you are in the Auckland, Waikato or Hamilton area at all please do look up his details at and have some fun. It was way too wet for us to indulge while we were there, but there's always next time :-).
The Waikato hillsides are covered with limestone outcrops like this. Some of The Lord of the Rings films were captured in these hills
Port Waikato Beach around high tide is very popular with local surfers....and they all have a tall tale or two to tell!
The west coast is definitely dramatic and makes for some interesting compositions when elements are stuck in the sand being pounded by waves.
Looking across the Waikato river I could see these amazing tree lines making for a cool structural image.
A walk around one of the Waikato towns armed with my camera was rewarded with this great candid moment of 'The Great Escape'. He was just doing some decorating but this split second was just too good an opportunity to miss.
With rain being the predominant feature of our time in the Waikato it did provide some cool reflections to work with.
A trip into the city of Auckland gave me an opportunity to grab some street photography images. 
Waiting to cross the street this young lady was completely absorbed in what music to listen to next. 
One of those spaces you see where you just wish that someone would walk into it and do something quirky......wish granted as some tourists walked past me and started doing their own poses on the steps.
Just look at those buttress roots....amazing!
Auckland from Devenport at sunset. 
First raceday trials with new gear......very happy :-)
Lone tree on the farm, great views all around
One of the braver cows in the field that wondered why I was also stupid enough to be out in the least I had an umbrella ;-)
Cool church we spotted on our day trip to the lighthouse
Just before we got to this spot I'd seen this guy doing backflips off of the waves. Unfortunately they had just finished having their fun and this was his last flurry.
Huntly Power Station
Chinese area at Hamilton Gardens. Such a serene spot.....when the other tourists left that is ;-)
One of many walkways at Hamilton Gardens
Such clever use of space as different garden styles are linked by various passages. 
Another perfectly formed garden in Hamilton
Central water feature offering different arches to take to the various garden areas. Beautiful gardens which are completely free to enjoy. You can even buy jars of chutney and lemon curd from the information centre which has been created from produce in the edible gardens area.
I didn't really do it justice but this is the mighty Waikato river which is really, really wide!
On the way back from a trip out I saw the clouds billowing getting ready for another downpour. Just managed to get a few shots in of this microwave tower before I had to dash for cover again.
Small wharf close to Port Waikato
On private land and a bit of a scramble but so worth it to find this really cool waterfall.
Return trip to Port Waikato gave me an opportunity for a different view of the wharf
Theres a reason the grass is so lush up here, it rains, a lot!
Quite a common sight for us from our home.....rain clouds.
Lighthouse at Manukau Heads.
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