Our first stop was Tutukaka where we did some scuba diving on the Poor Knights Islands. The water has warmed up loads since Ben and I did our training so it was a much more pleasant experience. There was loads to see and apparently I don't breath very much, so I got to stay down underwater twenty minutes longer than everyone else! We saw sting rays and all kinds of other fish that I can't be bothered to learn the names of! The whole thing was made even more entertaining by the frequent puking into paper bags of Bethan. Bless her. Fair play though she still struggled into all the gear and joined in. I would have sat miserably in the corner if it were me but then I think she'd have done anything to get off the rolling boat!
Next we headed up to Pahia and explored the Bay of Islands by sailing boat and sea kayak. Look at us go with all our sporting activities! I can assure you that there was more than enough beer drinking and pie eating to balance out any healthy activity though :0) Whilst we were there we stayed in this quite plush (by my standards!) place with a pool and stuff (only because they'd messed up our booking so we got upgraded!) so then when we arrived at our next stop in Hihi Beach the hideousness of the shack that awaited us was intensified. The highlight for me was watching Ceri sweep the dead flies out of his bed!!
We then drove all the way to cape Reinga, the most northern tip of New Zealand. Beth thought we were taking the piss when we told her that we were planning on driving all day to go and see a lighthouse. But she soon found out that we weren't! We also found a beautiful deserted little beach for our picnic lunch and trekked over some massive sand dunes. The idea is that you rent boogie boards and slided down them, but when we got there the lady with the boards said we were too late, so we just had to run about on them instead. Beth turned into the abominable sand monster when the sunblock she had covered herself in turned to glue and caked her from head to toe in sand!
Hokianga Harbour was lovely and the Treehouse, where we stayed, my favourite. Ben and I decided that we want to live in a tree house :0) It was a gorgeous place to chill out among the rainforest. The scenery on the west coast is pretty different to the east, much more wild and rugged, with hardly anyone about. Until, that is we stumbled upon some sort of mini festival on the beautiful Kai Iwi Lakes. Definitely a spot that's on my "must go back" list.
The final stop on our little road trip (HONK, HONK!!) was at Goat Island (where there are no goats and never were?!) at a lovely little campsite, that I immediately fell in love with (partly because dogs are allowed and although we don't actually have a dog yet I am still fairly obsessed with the idea of getting one!). However it did lose something of it's shine when we were kept awake half the night by an accordion playing Frenchman (he may as well have been wearing a blue and white striped jumper and a string of onions!).
So after nine days of adventuring we headed back home to Tauranga. Ben and I went back to work and Beth and Ceri headed off for a few days by themselves and immediately checked into a four star hotel. Anyone would think that not everyone wants to stay on campsites with flies in the beds and accordion playing Frenchmen!! They came back to be sent off in style by a meal out with all our "new" friends and a drunken night out (yep I even stayed up past 9.30 for the occasion!!)
View more photos here!