Week 8 Day 50 Auckland to Whangarei up and around to Kaitaia and Down to Hamilton, Raglan, and Matamata

Week 8 Day 50

Hamilton, NZ 37.7833° S, 175.2833° E

Since I last posted, things have definitely looked up!  Tom and I joke around that New Zealand was hazing us, and knock on wood, hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here!

IMG_20131006_112448Sunday, I started the day resetting my zen, hitting up yoga at Bikram Yoga East West on Ponsonby Street while Tom posted up in Cafe Byzantium to do some work.

Bikram Yoga East West might be one of my favorite studios!–For those that don’t know Tom and I are looking to open our own studio when we return to the states so part of my mission while we travel is to visit as many studios as possible.

This studio was very simplistic, yet sophisticated.  I got to take three classes there while we were in Auckland.  It was one of the few studios I’ve practiced at as a visitor where I’ve been able to have the same focus and concentration I can achieve at studios that I’ve made my home–I know as a yogi I should let nothing steal my peace, but trust me that can be tough! 😉  I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in Auckland!  It was the highlight of the city for me!

IMG_20131006_113236The best part about practicing on Ponsonby though was being able to walk down the street and find Tommy waiting for me at Cafe Byzantium.

After yoga and work, we headed back to our hostel to take a nap.  Tom was recovering from a hit of food poisoning he got Saturday after I posted.  (The second part of the haze.  Tom mentioned it in his vlog, but I realize I’ve yet to write about it.)

After resting for a bit, he was feeling up to a walk so we set out on a trek of the city.


A rugby field as we walked into Auckland Domain, Joe–We took this pic for you!

Auckland to Whangarei up and around to Kaitaia and Down to Hamilton, Raglan, and MatamataAnother thing Auckland has going for it, is it’s abundance of city domains (or parks).

To recap, we visited Albert Park and Western Park earlier in the week.  This trip we set out for Auckland Domain and Mt. Eden.

When we got into the park one of the first things that we hit was the duck pond.  This pond has some of the largest ducks I’ve ever seen!  They were very friendly, obviously used to the visitors who feed them.

20131006_161257One walked right on up to Tom, ending up a little disappointed that he didn’t have any food for him.

We told him we have to save all of our bread for ourselves.

20131006_161311IMG_20131006_191610After checking out the Duck pond, we headed over to the Lover’s Walk.

It was amazing to see all the different types of trees, flowers, and scenery there was right in the middle of the city.  The path was a dirt path, like we were on a real hike and we even saw a little waterfall.


We emerged from the Lover’s Walk and headed up towards the museum which was unfortunately closing in 15 min.

Rather than pay $25 a person to hurry through the museum, I decided instead to take pictures of the kids playing on the gun statues outside.


We left the Auckland Domain and continued on our city trek to Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano a couple miles from city center.

20131006_172448It was a pretty short climb to the top of the domain.

20131006_172345We had a 360 degree view of Auckland.

20131006_173044There were so many pictures, I couldn’t decide which ones to post.

20131006_173102So I decided to post them all.

20131006_173445Including the official last picture of me taken with half a front tooth!

Screenshot_2013-10-07-11-38-26We headed back to our hostel, pretty tired from all the trekking of the day.  Despite Tom not feeling too hot, we actually ended up walking pretty far.  Luckily walking around and getting his blood flowing, made Tom feel much better.

We crashed pretty early Sunday night, waking up early on a mission Monday to get my tooth fixed.

IMG_20131007_103420Tom headed to an internet cafe to do an interview, while I headed to Apex Dental a couple blocks down.

Luckily for me, there was an early morning cancellation and they got me in right away.  I walked out less than an hour later looking better than before!

We spent the rest of Monday doing our research on rental cars for the remainder of our time in New Zealand.

IMG_20131008_140504Thanks to a tip from the receptionist at Apex Dental, we found Jucy, by far the best deal in rental cars!  We were able to get a GetzYa for $15 a day!  (The closest any other company could come to matching that price was $24 a day!)

We felt super lucky that we went when we did, because they only had 4 rentals left at that price.  New Zealand is entering it’s spring, which is the peak tourist time period.

Suprisingly, because we wanted the car for almost 2 months, we actually got a better deal!  Had we only wanted the car for one week it would have been $24 a day.

20131007_202249We ended Monday heading back to Ponsonby street for me to do yoga, while Tom found a great Happy Hour deal (2 beers for 1) and got some work done before heading back to the Hostel.  We made one more meal at the hostel using up the remainder of the beef, eggs, and frozen veggies we’d bought making an interesting scramble.

Tuesday we work super early ready to get out of Auckland!

I headed back to Bikram on Ponsonby for one more class before a couple weeks of road tripping.

Tom spent the morning wrapping up some work before we headed up the coast.

We headed back to hostel, packed our bags, and waited for the Jucy Van to pick us up and take us to our GetzYa.  (Jucy has a shuttle service and will actually pick you up, which was awesome, saving us another $16 a person for a shuttle  that would have taken us back to the airport!)


Setting out, we discovered driving on the right side of the car on the left side of the road actually isn’t too hard to get used to.  I may have turned my windshield wipers a couple of times instead of signalling to turn, but other than that it’s been smooth sailing!–Knock on wood!!

Before we headed North, we decided to stop by one more Auckland Domain.  We headed south to the highest point in the city, One Tree Hill.  20131008_112408

It turned out to be an awesome stop.  Once again, it offered beautiful 360 degree views of the city.

IMG_20131008_141243We also some rock formation messages people had created.  The best part though, had to be walking with the sheep that run wild around the park.

I was trying desperately to pet or feed one, but despite all the tourists they must see daily the sheep were very shy and preferred to be left alone.


There were some cute baby sheep though!

We left One Tree Hill and headed North with the goal to hit Whangarei by the evening.

We stopped around noon for lunch in the coastal town of Orewa.

20131008_142523It was a cloudy day, but we were both still excited to finally see a New Zealand Beach.

I of course took tons of photos.

My favorite one was of the sea shells I was finding all over the beach.

20131008_142614Tom thought it was cool how far the waves washed up onto shore, without the water being deep….I’m not sure if my words are properly describing what I mean, but this picture of Tom explains what I’m trying to say.

See how he’s walking on a shallow layer of water?

Anyways, maybe it isn’t as cool as we thought it was or maybe we had just been in a car too long, but we enjoyed the coastal town of Orewa.

After finding lunch at a Kebab shop, we hopped back into the car and headed further north.

We stopped again at the Surf Emporium in Kamo a smaller town of Whangarei to chat with Sean, a friend of a friend of my cousins.

He was able to give us some pointers on the North Island, including some tips on camping on the beach.

Don't mind my retainer face...

Don’t mind my retainer face…

We headed out to Matapouri Bay to camp for the night.

We got to the bay after dark and the weather report was calling for rain, so we decided to try sleeping in the car.

We folded up the back seats and crammed on in for the night.

I didn’t find it too bad, but I am Court size.  Tom decided we would have to do something different if we were going to sleep in the car again.

We woke up in time to catch the sunrise over Matapouri Bay.


We had been told of some Mermaid Pools, so before heading further North we set out to explore the bay in search of the Mermaids!

20131009_07054820131009_075217We walked towards the trail located at the start of the peak all the way to the right ↑ and headed up a trail in between the two hills through a palm tree forest.

We came out on the other side facing the ocean to find some little pools.

20131009_07380220131009_075613We unfortunately didn’t see any Mermaids.  It’s probably too cold this time of year for them to Sunbathe 😉


We too found the water to be too cold to bathe in so we headed back to the car.

←Another picture of a random tree seen from Matapouri Bay.  There are so many different types of trees here!

Once back at the car, we attempted to create some order and headed on out.


Joe Another PIcture for you!

Joe Another Picture for you!

Another attraction of the Whangarei area we had been told about were the Abbey Caves, so we set out to find them.

As Tom drove, I made us a breakfast of champions, Rice cakes and peanut butter.  Since we’ve been on our road trip this has been a staple!  We stop at least once a day to have a real meal, but other than that we eat a lot of Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter!


We arrived at the entrance to the Abbey Caves and had to walk about half a mile to get to the caves seeing fields of cows and cool rocks like ←this one along the way.

20131009_100332The caves were pretty well marked and luckily we brought our headlamp because they got dark fast!

I wasn’t able to get any pictures to do it justice, but once deep in the cave, looking above us we saw a ceiling covered with glowworms!  They looked like a bunch of glow in the dark stars scattered all over!  Tom said the caves reminded him of the movie, The Descent.

After we’d had enough glowworms, we jumped back into the car for a short drive back towards town to see Whangarei Falls before we headed further north.

20131009_104501The falls were right off the road and gorgeous!

I kind of wish we had a picnic or something, but it was only 9am and time for us to hit the road so we could see more for the day.

We continued driving north on the East side of the Twin Coast Highway headed toward Paihia, part of thee Bay of Islands.

We hit Paihia around lunch time and took a little break from driving to eat lunch, grab a couple of beers, and do some work.

20131009_132133Unfortunately we couldn’t find any WiFi in this town, but we did find a decent lunch deal at TMO Sports Bar.

We also found some Rugby on TV, as well as set a little more of our itinerary for the next couple days.  We were excited to learn from a local rugby fan posted up in TMO that there would be a Rugby match in Hamilton (where I’m currently writing this blog) on Saturday.  The current plan is to hit that match tomorrow!

After watching some Rugby and eating our grub we hit the road again.  We were able to make it as far North as we wanted to go.  (We could have continued further North up the 90 Mile Beach trail, but we decided we had seen enough Beach towns.)

We started heading south down the west coast of Twin Highway and reached the town of Kaitaia where we posted up in Mussel Rock Cafe to do a little more work for the day.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find unlimited internet access!–FYI if you want unlimited internet, you are much better off finding a bar or restaurant (especially those with casino games!) rather than trying coffee shops.  Apparently in New Zealand you can’t get unlimited internet service.  Businesses must pay for a particular data usage which is why so many coffee shops have limits to the MB you can use.

20131009_192523After finishing up some work, we headed to the coast, to the small town of Ahipara to settle in for the night.  We decided to try sleeping in the car again, but rather than fold the back seats down, we just reclined the front seats and found this to be a much more comfortable arrangement.

20131009_192705After watching a gorgeous sunset, we busted out our headlamp and Tom’s phone with a downloaded spotify playlist and played a good old fashion game of War.  Tom may have more experience in real life combat, but I did defeat him in the card game…at least this time.

Still not tired, I finished reading Tom, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman.  Without internet to watch movies and netflix, I’ve been reading out loud to Tom for evening entertainment.  We need a new book, so if you have any suggestions please let me know.–We have PLENTY of Non-fiction on Tom’s Kindle, so please let me know any good Fiction reads for me to load my kindle with!

20131010_085713Thursday morning we woke up to a rainy day.  We hopped back in the car and continued south with lofty goals to make it to Hamilton.

Our first stop came in the town of Kohukohu where we had to wait for a ferry to cross the bay to continue along the highway.

20131010_085127Waiting for the ferry, Tom made friends with some roosters that were waiting along side the road with us.

The ferry ride was very short, less than 15 minutes.  The town of Rawene on the other side was very small.  We decided not to stop and continued on with our drive.

20131010_093506We did stop along side the road in the town of Opononi to take some pictures of the gorgeous scenery.

This was the first time we’d seen dune like backdrops.  Once again, we found ourselves amazed by how diversified the landscape in New Zealand is.


After pausing for a couple minutes to stretch our legs and take some pictures we hopped back in the car and continued again on down the coast.

A little further down the road I awoke from a quick nap to find Tom had stopped the car.  Confused as to why we were stopped I looked up to find the road blocked by a herd of cattle crossing to the other side!20131010_094458


The Cattle seemed completely unfazed by us, continuing on their way to the other side.  The grass must have been greener on the right side that day…

20131010_100435Shortly after the cattle xing, we arrived in the Waipoua Forest, home of Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta is an incredibly large Kauri tree.


Driving through the Waipoua Forest, there are a couple opportunities to see some large Kauris.

We stopped at the first and headed down the short trail (less than 5 minute walk) and were astounded by Tane Mahuta.  The picture of Tom by him doesn’t do it justice!

Check out the dets!→

It looks like he’s only as wide as Tom’s wingspan, but Tom was a couple meters in front of the tree, the tree was actually more like 3x his wingspan measuring 13.8M in girth!

A couple miles down the road from Tane, is a trailhead to some of his siblings.  There are a couple trails you can take, but we opted for the shortest one since we still had quite a bit of driving ahead of us.

IMG_20131010_133829Happy to get out of the car for a short run, we found the 4 sisters!

After our short run, we got back in the car continuing south again.

We stopped in Dargaville for a couple hours, taking a break for Tom to catch up on some emails and to grab lunch.

Grabbing some espresso on the way out of town, we settled in for a couple more hours and finally made it to Hamilton around 6pm.

We decided we would probably find a better place to park for the night if we were on the coast so we headed to the “hippie laid-back” town of Raglan.

Upon arriving into town we decided we wanted some beverages for our evening so we headed into the local grocery store.  Walking through the store, we realized the lunch we’d eaten hours earlier wasn’t satisfying us anymore.

Walking by the aisles of reasonably priced beef, Tom asked me how much I thought a camping stove would cost.  One of the clerks happened to overhear us and showed us to the camping aisle where we found a gas burner for $25!!!  We were stoked!

20131010_202110Super excited we bought ourselves some beer, steak, and a can of beans and headed out to the beach to cook ourselves a feast!!

After dinner, we reclined our chairs and decided it was a cribbage night.  Tom put up a great fight leading most of the way, but I pulled through in the end beating him with a double, triple run of 4 during play.  (Ace, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4)  Tom maintains that I have just have good luck in all these games, but I know it’s true skill! 😉

After my victory, we settled in the for the night, reading for a bit.  The past two evenings have been crazy windy and rainy.  It’s kind of cool falling asleep with the rain and wind going on outside.

We woke up this morning to such a storm that we couldn’t even cook the eggs we had bought for breakfast.  We quickly packed up and headed to Matamata to see Hobbiton.

We were very disappointed by the commercial Hobbiton.  The tour was $75 a person and judging from the poor recreation of the Shire’s Rest Bar, we opted out of it.

20131011_112119Instead we decided to take our own self tour of the Middle-Earth driving around the country side of Matamata.

20131011_111332We saw all kind of animals and beautiful landscape.  So far we aren’t upset by our decision but if you know of any reason why we should pay the price, let us know.  We’ll have another opportunity to do a Middle-Earth tour in Rotorua.

We’re finishing our day in Hamilton.  We’re currently at the Iguana, an Italian restaurant with TGIF Happy Hour Deals!  Tomorrow I plan to take Yoga at the Hamilton Bikram studio before we catch the Rugby game at Waikato Stadium.

We want to give a shout out and Thank You to Traisa and Aunt T for supporting us and getting Private Messages!  We look forward to doing those later in the trip.  (They both wanted messages from South America!)  If you want a message click here!

We hope you all at home are having a good week!

What’s your favorite photo from this week?!?!

Comments 5

  1. Pingback: Week 9 Day 55 Hamilton, Rotorua, Te Kuiti, Waitomo Caves, and Taumarunui

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  3. Aunt T

    Oh my! This is my favorite post yet.

    Amazing pix (my favorite for some reason -on beach with shells. or your retainer face with Tom. Or Tom with chickens (some fowl birds) or you cooking in back of campa or you between the trees! or cattle in road. Too hard to decide. 🙂

    Your descriptions are soo interesting! Love this post!

    Love how you both are making this work! Oh I like the picture with your stuff in back of campa!

    Your tante with wanderlust!!

  4. Mommy

    I like your smiling face picture cooking your first camp stove meal. I also find something very artistic in the shot of the red car (yours?) parked on the side of the beach next to a shack on stilts. (The water falls and 360 degree shots definitely get an honorable mention!)

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