New Zealand – Northland & Auckland

We saved the Northland and Auckland regions of the north island for the end of our New Zealand adventure since our flight back home was out of Auckland Airport. Highlights of Northland include: Karekare falls, Piha beach’s “Lion Rock”, Waipoua Kauri Forest (the towering Kauri trees are a sight to behold), Koutu boulders (everyone flocks to the “Moeraki Boulders” on the south island but head to Koutu for a crowd free experience), Te Paki sand dunes, Cape Reinga Lighthouse, St Paul’s Rock in Whangaroa, Kerikeri’s waterfalls, quaint Russell, Kukutauwhao Island’s “lighthouse walkway” near Tutukaka, Whangarei Waterfall, Mangawhai Beach, and the Bohemian town of Puhoi.

Once we reached Auckland, we lucked out big time because our dear friends Goodie and MJ had coordinated a whole range of activities for us to do along with a fabulous free place to stay. Plus we got to hang out with them for a few more days before flying out of New Zealand so it was the perfect send off to an amazing adventure in what has quickly become one of our favorite countries on earth!

Returning our campervan back to Travellers Autobarn was a bittersweet moment as we had grown quite attached to our mobile home over these past 3 months. After finding out we now hold the record for the most kilometers driven in a campervan, we were shown photos of what the previous renter had done to our sweet ride (she refused to evacuate despite numerous flood warnings throughout the night and as a result, woke up the next morning to a flooded campervan in waist deep water). After a thorough repair job, we were the very next renters and we are happy to report that our compact campervan did the job perfectly. Two thumbs up for Travellers Autobarn! And two huge thumbs up for New Zealand!! Even though we spent a whopping 3 months driving 17173 km on both the south and the north island, there is still so much we want to see and do so we will be back. 100% Pure New Zealand – we are counting down the days until we return.

Tree obstacle on the drive to Karekare Falls Hungry bird demanding food; Karekare parking lot Secluded waterfall on our hike to Karekare Falls Karekare Falls Maori carving at Karekare Beach Pukeko (swamp hens) at Karekare Beach View looking down on Lions Rock and Piha Beach Lion rock, the famous landmark on Piha Beach Looking down on Piha Beach from the top of Lion Rock Tuatara driveway; North Piha Beware of quicksand at Bethell Beach! Black sand Bethells Beach "Drive like your kids live here" - an important message for NZ's more aggressive drivers! The Ark; Kaiwaka Purple wrapped bales of hay; Matakohe Interesting Northland mailbox Downtown Dargaville Baylys Beach View of Baylys Beach from a lookout Dolphin lamp post; Baylys Beach Spirula shells; Baylys Beach Robby posing with "Te Matua Ngahere" (Father of the Forest), the second largest living kauri tree in the world The mighty "Tāne Mahuta" (Lord of the Forest), the largest kauri tree in the world Wind swept tree; Omapere Lookout Omapere lookout view Omapere jetty Colorful mural at the Opononi i-Site Opo the bottlenose dolphin statue; Opononi Robby pushing a massive spherical boulder; Koutu Boulders Becky striking a pose at Koutu boulders, the obscure spherical boulders of the north island Koutu boulders at sunset Sunset over Koutu beach Robby mimics a mural; Kaikohe Mural portraits in the town center; Kaikohe Wooden staircase carved inside this massive section of a 50 ton kauri log; Ancient Kauri Kingdom cafe in Awanui Robby by a large kauri carving; Ancient Kauri Kingdom Maori entrance; Pukenui Turkeys feeding dangerously close to the road; Northland A solitary emu on a sheep farm; Northland Robby checking out Te Paki sand dunes Another view of Te Paki's giant sand dunes; Cape Reinga View of Ninety Mile Beach; Cape Reinga Hiking out to Cape Reinga, the meeting point between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean Cape Reinga lighthouse View towards Tapotupotu Bay; Cape Reinga Detail of Maori carving at the Far North Regional Musem in Kaitaia Traditional Māori greeting (pressing one's nose and forehead together); Te Ahu Heritage museum, Kaitaia Decrepit building near Kaitaia Rustic house in Mangonui Becky tackling the climb up to St Paul's Rock in Whangaroa Robby smiles on the hike up to the peak of St Paul's Rock; Whangaroa Spectacular views of Whangaroa Harbor from the top of St Paul's Rock Putataua Bay Road leading to Matauri Bay Rainbow Falls; Kerikeri Robby on the footpath leading to the base of Rainbow Falls; Kerikeri Pretty Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri Becky feeding hungry chickens at Rewa's Village; Kerikeri View on our hike to Wharepuke Waterfall; Kerikeri Curled fern; Wharepuke Waterfall Wharepuke Waterfall Stone store, the oldest surviving stone building in New Zealand; Kerikeri Sunset view from our camp spot at Falls Motel & Waterfront Campground; Haruru Tree fern canopy; Paihia School Track View of Paihia from the top of the school track St Paul's Anglican Church; Paihia Colorful wall mural; Paihia Paihia waterfront Russell waterfront view Old buildings line the waterfront in quaint Russell Christ Church; Russell Robby stands by a large mosaic sundial on Flagstaff Hill; Russell Flagstaff Hill Lookout; Russell Tutakaka coastline Northland scenery Colorful mailboxes; Helena Bay Eagle nest sculpture; Northland "Dogs kill kiwi" caution sign; Northland Matapouri coast; Northland Robby hiking across the causeway to Kukutauwhao Island's lighthouse View of Rahomaunu Island as seen from Tutukaka Headland's lighthouse walkway Panoramic view of the causeway linking Kukutauwhao Island to Tutukaka Upper portion of Whangarei Waterfall Whangarei Falls, a popular swimming hole in Northland Abbey Caves; Whangarei Statue at the Mount Parihaka lookout Paranui Falls Whangarei town basin Whangarei waterfront Plant display at Quarry Gardens; Whangarei Marsden Bay View from Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway Path leading to Mangawhai beach Rock formations on Mangawhai Beach Puhoi Pub & Hotel Puhoi horse stables. Puhoi is a historic town settled by Bohemians (Czech Republic) in the 1860s Circa 1880 Church of Saints Peter and Paul; Puhoi Waiwera coastline Zane checks out a boat that fits him just right; Auckland North Head, Auckland's extinct volcano with a view Gun emplacements and tunnel complex of North Head Historic Reserve, a military installation built to proctect the city of Auckland against invasion during WWI and WWII Posing with our favorite baby in front of the Auckland skyline Goodie, Zane and Robby stop for snack time; Auckland Māori memorial obelisk at the summit of One Tree Hill Posing at the top of One Tree Hill One of 48 volcanic cones dotted around Auckland Thumbs up for our burger dinner; Auckland Half Moon Bay Beach Goodie and Zane at Musick Point Zane giving Robby some love Selfie at Musick Point Supporting Nick's high school rugby match City view seen on the ferry from Half Moon Bay to downtown Auckland Flags in downtown Auckland celebrate Team New Zealand bringing the 35th America's Cup home Silo park; Auckland Yummy pizza at Jack Tar bar; Auckland Enjoying Auckland with Goodie and MJ Yay! The weather cleared up on a fine day in Auckland as Goodie and MJ give us the grand tour Historic ferry building; Auckland "Craig's Building" - Goodie points out his very own building in Auckland Drinking at the Chamberlain bar Our colorful beers at the Northern Steamship bar Auckland at night via ferry - no better way to get home after an afternoon of drinking! After driving our trusty home around for 3 months, we returned it to Travellers Autobarn. Here is a photo showing what the previous renter did to our van! foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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