11/11/2007 - 11/21/2007
I finally have some time to update the blog, so I've got a lot of stuff to report. First off, some housekeeping. I'm obviously not able to post every photo I take on here, so anyone interested in seeing the rest, head on over to www.dtoga.myphotoalbum.com and they're all on display. You can get prints made if you're that interested. I've been updating the map as well. Check the link at the top of each entry for a view of my world map. You can then zoom in and check out individual places I've been, complete with links to photos and entries about that place.
Here's the latest wanderings
I spent a few days in the Auckland area last week, staying with Helen and Lizzie. Helen and I went into the city on the 13th and took a look around. Central Auckland is pretty small, so we finished that pretty quickly. On the 14th, we went to Bethell's Beach, on the west coast about 45 minutes from Auckland. After a month in the South Pacific, I was kind of spoiled when it came to beaches, but it was pretty cool. We hiked up this enormous sand dune near the beach and found a hidden lake, which was pretty amazing.
Lake above Bethell's Beach
There was a storm rolling in at the beach, so the waves were absolutely wild.
Surf at Bethell's Beach
What we could see of the sunset at Bethell's Beach
People apparently drown in the riptide there all the time. Not that it was warm enough to swim anyway. It's actually a lot colder than I expected in New Zealand, around 60 degrees. Since it's the beginning of their summer, I was expecting a bit warmer, but everyone says it doesn't really warm up until January. I hung out in Auckland for a few more days and then headed up to Paihia, near Bay of Islands, on the 17th. It's a little former fishing village on a beautiful harbor. On the 18th I just hung around town and then on the 19th took a trip up to Cape Reinga, the north-westernmost point of NZ. Our tour was a slight disaster, as the bus broke down and we ended up combined with another group who were doing a different trip. We ended up getting some free stuff out of it to make up for it though, so that's alright. On the way up, we stopped in a Kauri forest. Kauri are the second largest trees in the world after the Giant Sequoia. A lot of the forest perished in an unexplained disaster about 45000 years ago and sank into a swamp where it's been preserved. It's the oldest workable wood in the world and they make a lot of woodcarvings out of it.
This tree is around 4000 years old
After the Kauri forest, we drove the bus up 90 Mile Beach. The beach is actually classed as a highway, so the bus literally drives right on the beach. We stopped about halfway up at a place called the Bluff.
Surf at the Bluff on 90 Mile Beach
We stopped again at the top of the beach to go sandboarding, which is basically boogie-boarding down huge sand dunes. A lot of fun, but two runs was enough because the climb up is steep and long. Then we went to Cape Reinga and walked down to see the lighthouse.
Beach at Cape Reinga
View from Cape Reinga
Lighthouse at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean
I came back to Auckland yesterday and spent today organizing my trip south. I decided to go on the Stray Bus, a hop-on hop-off bus that is geared towards backpackers and tries to get you off the beaten path. Since I'm traveling alone, it's a good way to meet people heading in the same direction. So I head off on that tomorrow morning and am pretty psyched about it.
BTW Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!