Friday, 23 March 2012

Around Diamond Creek

Mar 10
This morning I went to the mall with Monique to go to a specific store which is going out of business. There I bought a lovely navy blue suit for $60. It's great quality and obviously I'm going to need something to wear to job interviews. I also picked up $8 black flats from K-Mart. Monique was meeting a friend for coffee so I took a little wander of the mall on my own and picked up camp chairs for Beau and I. After we finished we headed back to the house. Beau and Ingo had gotten started on fixing the deck. Monique and I then cleaned out her study. The room was quite a disaster and they have new carpet coming in a few days. We emptied the room and then started sort through some of the papers. Ingo made a yummy slow cooker stew for dinner.

Mar 11
Today Beau and I planned to go into town since there are cheaper train tickets. Unfortunately Beau felt like crap so we figured it would be better for him to sleep. He's got a cold or something. After breakfast I went with Ingo to Costco. It was very much like Costco at home with slightly different things in it. It also sold beer, wine and spirits. I grabbed a few essentials like peanut butter, although you can buy much bigger peanut butter at home. When we had gotten back to the house Beau had woken up a short time before. I made us some lunch. Since it was such a beautiful day Monique suggested we take the dogs to the dog beach. We loaded the two dogs into the car and set off. It was a little ways away but the dogs loved it. Neither of the are very good at fetch but they had a lot of fun chasing other dogs around. Once they were sufficiently tired out we headed home. Of course right before we pulled into the driveway Juneau felt the need to shake and sand went flying all over the car. Beau and Ingo had been working on fixing the deck railing and one section of it was really coming along. We ended up going out for Vietnamese and I got a delicious vermicelli bowl. How I missed them. Afterwards we went to a very busy cafe for some dessert and coffee. I think we have eaten out in Australia more than we did our whole time in New Zealand.

Mar 12 – Bendigo
Beau still wasn't feeling well this morning so he stayed at the house while I accompanied Monique and Ingo to Bendigo. Bendigo is a small town outside of Melbourne.  They had plans to meet another couple there. We met up with their friends, a German couple, outside of the information center. They had their 6 month old boy, Henrik, with them. We went to a cafe for a coffee and sat outside so Snowy and Juneau could join us. Then we went for a nice stroll through the park. In one section there were a ton of bats hanging from the trees above us. It was bizarre. It was getting to be close to our ticket time for the Bendigo Art Gallery Exhibit. The exhibit was “Grace Kelly: Style Icon.” The girls went to the exhibit while the guys had a beer outside. I enjoyed the exhibit. There were many of Grace Kelly's dresses from throughout her life an career. It was interesting to see how the styles changed throughout the decades and how some design elements are coming back into fashion. I'm not sure how much the other two women liked it but it was definitely my niche. The exhibit could have had more photo's of Grace Kelly in the outfits shown, it would have given a more complete idea of how the garment looked on a person. We met back up with the guys outside and then the German couple had to be on there way. Monique, Ingo and I had some lunch at a burger joint that served amazing looking burgers. We then headed back to Diamond Creek. Beau had been pretty productive today even though he's still under the weather. He got our hinged table rigged up, which is pretty cool. Beau and I had some dinner and then got most of our stuff moved out to the car, we plan to drive down the Great Ocean Road the next few days. After getting packed away we watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy on the big tv.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Camper Van Hunting

Mar 6 – Into town
This morning an Australian couple came by to show us their van, a 1981 Nissan Urvan. They were doing what backpackers do just in their own country. The van looked pretty good. It drove well and had a pretty good layout. They were traveling with their dog, Banjo, and he played with Snow and Juneau while we checked out the van. We took it for a test drive, Beau and I were quite interested in it. After they left we headed into town to check out the CBD. We went into the visitors center to get some info on where to go and what to see. Then we went back to the little Indian place for lunch. It was yummy and cheap so why mess with a good thing. After lunch we walked through the botanical gardens and over to the war memorial. This is apparently a great place to get an awesome view of the city. Unfortunately it was about 5pm and the memorial closed to visitors at that time so we couldn't go up it for the great view. We decided we'll have to come back. We had been planning on meeting another girl and her van this evening but she couldn't meet until 7pm and wasn't willing to meet us at a train stop on our line. It would have taken about 2hrs to get back to Monique and Ingo's if we met up with her so we decided against it. We really just wanted another comparison, we weren't super interested in this van. It was blue with clouds on it. We headed back and were just in time for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening with Monique and Ingo. Beau and Ingo have been having fun playing soccer on Playstation. Beau and I thought the van this morning looked best of any of the ads we had seen and the guy seemed like he had taken good care of it. We got in touch with him about taking the van to a mechanic tomorrow.
Melbourne CBD

The city and Botanical Gardens

The War Memorial
Mar 7 – Checking the van out
Beau spent some of the morning finding a mechanic in a town called Geelong. That's where the van couple is staying, they were just in Melbourne for a few days. Geelong is about an hours drive from here but it's a two hour train ride as you have to go into the city and then back out again. Beau set off on his merry way and I picked up some groceries. I had a quiet day to myself. Beau got back just in time for dinner. The mechanic thought the van was in good condition for it's age and couldn't see any problems with it. We had decided that if the van was good we'd buy it so Beau had given them a deposit. We were pretty excited about our new van.

Mar 8 – Picking up Dotti
We made arrangements with the van couple to meet part way between Melbourne and Geelong at one of the train stations. Beau couldn't have taken the van yesterday because we had to wait for today to get the cash out. We are only allowed to take out $1000 each per day with our bank cards. So I had $4000 in 50's on the train. One of those times you really hope you don't bump into the wrong people. We met up with the couple no problem. Beau and the guy talked about the van a bit then we made the money exchange. We felt pretty conspicuous counting all that money out. But it was all there and Beau and I had our “new” van to drive back to Diamond Creek. We were discussing names for the van, Urv was one option but vans tend to be girls. We settled on “Dotti” since she's technically a Datsun, what Nissan was formerly known as. Once back at the house we set about the task of cleaning out the van and figuring out what we need for it. We decided we want to make a little folding table and we discussed ways of accomplishing that. We made bean burgers for dinner and while Monique and Ingo were a little skeptical when we told them what was for dinner they really enjoyed them. I also made greek salad to go with.

Mar 9 – The Movies
Beau and I had planned on going into town today. Unfortunately right before we were going to leave we double checked our train tickets and we could find Beau's anywhere. We search high and low but to no avail. It must have fallen out of his pocket on the train. We were both pretty bummed because those tickets hadn't been cheap. Since it was already afternoon we decided we'd go into town earlier tomorrow. Instead we decided to work on some modifications to the van. We want to build a cover for a shelf area that doubles as a table. We headed to the hardware store but their main car park is underground and we weren't sure how tall the van is with the roof cage on it. She's quite long especially with the bike rack on the back and pretty tall with the roof rack. We'll have to measure the height to see where we can fit. After the hardware store we headed to the grocery store and had similar problems parking. We barely fit in a stall, the bike rack had to hang over the center median. Back at the house Beau started trying to figure out the best way for him to create his shelf/table. Monique and Ingo got home and suggested we go to a movie. Ingo had been planning on going with some guys from work but their plans fell through. We had a look at movies that were playing, Monique doesn't like violent movies, so the girls were going to go to one movie and the boys another. We had some dinner at the food court before hand. Ingo and Beau went to see an action movie called Contraband while Monique and I went to a chick flick called The Vow. It was a sweet and sad movie, think the Notebook or Timetravellers Wife (all with Rachel McAdams). After our movie Monique and I got a very decadent hot chocolate while we waited for the guys movie to finish. They really enjoyed their movie and we enjoyed ours.


Mar 3 – To Oz
We were up at an ungodly hour this morning to catch the bus to the airport. Our flight was at 7:30am and we had to be there about 2hrs before so we caught the bus at 5am. Our bags were the right weight (yay) and we got on the flight no problem. The flight was uneventful but we were a little delayed arriving. We got through customs no problem but then the bags were delayed coming off the carousel. A whole bunch of other aircrafts had arrived around the same time and there were several huge lines to get out of the baggage zone, we still had to go through bio-screening. Since we had been hiking in NZ we had dirt on our shows and the Australians are as strict as the New Zealanders in controlling foreign organic substances entering the country. We then had to line up to get our shoes cleaned. We didn't get out into the public area until close to 2 hours after our flight had landed. The poor Dutch couple, Monqiue and Ingo, who had been so kind to pick us up from the airport and offer us a place to stay had been waiting for us for over an hour. We felt so bad even though there wasn't much we could have done about it. They drove us to their place where we got to meet Snowy and Juneau who are two Samoyd-Retrievers. They are beautiful! Snowy is 3 and is bigger than Juneau who is 2. Snowy's father was a retriever and looks much more like a Golden Retriever than Juneau whose father was Samoyed. They are both lovely. We had breakfast and spent most of the day chatting with Monique and Ingo. They had plans to go for dinner with some friends of theirs and invited us to join them. We went along with them to an Italian restaurant that had good prices and huge portions. Beau and I shared a pizza and had to take some home for leftovers. Our day started early and was annoying for a little while but ended with new friends.

Mar 4
We slept well last night finally a night in a real bed. We had some breakfast then Beau and Ingo took the dogs for a walk. Monique and Ingo went out for the afternoon to a friends birthday party. Beau and I spent the afternoon doing some research on campervans and set up a few meets. We were pretty lazy most of the afternoon. Once Monique and Ingo returned we went with them to badminton. Every Sunday night there is drop in badminton at the local rec center. We played a game against Monqiue and Ingo as well as played with one other random people. It was a lot of fun. I don't think I've played badminton since the cottage with Elaine, Mike and Kate.

Mar 5 – The HelpX
After breakfast we finished repacking our bags, we were leaving some stuff at Monique and Ingo's, and headed out to catch the train to go to our HelpX for the week. We had been doing some journey planing to figure out our route but as it turns out the schedule we were looking at was for the next train station, not the Diamond Creek one so we missed the train. The next train wasn't for another 40mins so we were a little behind schedule by the time we got on the train. It took about an hour to get into Melbourne CBD. It's quite the metropolis and I am looking forward to exploring it later this week. We got off the train at one of the downtown stations and then hopped on a tram headed for Kew like the HelpX lady told us. We got off at the specified stop then headed down the road. We found the house no problem and could see she needed a lot of help in her yard. We knocked on the door and to our dismay there was no answer. We knocked several times and waited around for about 45min before getting fed up. We couldn't understand it, while we were about 30min late since we missed our train she had specified the times to come and there was a car parked in the driveway. Frustrated we headed back towards the main road. An older gentleman started talking to us asking us where we were from, he knew where we were supposed to be staying. He said there had been two girls staying there recently but he thought the host was a bit of an odd duck. No kidding. Monique and Ingo had given us a mobile phone that one of their previous backpackers had left behind so we bought a SIM card for it and attempted to activate it. I spent an hour on the phone to some moron at Telstra while he tried to verify my identity. Apparently one international passport wasn't good enough for him he needed another form photo identification and it couldn't be my drivers license! Fortunately I have two passports so he finally was able to activate my SIM card although he did say it could take 2-24hrs to become active. We had been hoping to call Monique or Ingo and double check it was okay if we returned to their place. They had already invited us back for after the HelpX. Feeling a little defeated and hungry we stopped into Subway and split a footlong. Then we bought a week long train pass since we want to explore the city this week and we figured we'd be at Monique and Ingo's. We took the tram back into town and through the use of wifi and skype we confirmed the cell was working and bought some credit for it. We got in touch with Ingo who said it was no problem for us to come back to their place tonight. What a relief! We then decided to get in touch with some of the campervan people who were in town and headed off the St Kilda to see a camper van. The van turned out to be a dud. It had a bad set up, hadn't been looked after properly, some strange gimicks with the driving and was smelly. It was good to check it out though since it gives us something to compare it too. We also set up with another couple to see their van tomorrow. We headed back into the CBD and were tired, sore and hungry. I was pretty fed up with hauling my pack around all day and can see how an extra 10kg can really affect your body. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant that was really good, cheap and right across the street from the train station. We then caught a train back to Diamond Creek and turned up back at Monique and Ingo's around 10pm. We hung out with them for a little while, while watching Seinfeld then headed to bed.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

New Zealand comes to an end

Feb 29 – Piha
It rained quite heavily in the night and we had a heck of a time trying to dry the tent and fly out. It was pretty overcast but we did get a few glimpses of the sun. We finally got everything mostly dry so we could pack up. No one showed up to collect our camp fees so we had a free campsite last night. We headed into the little town of Piha to check out the beautiful beach there. It was spectacular even though the weather was not promising. We walked along the beach and saw a bunch of starfish, birds and surfers. We had some fun with tripod photos, Beau and I goofed around a bunch. We really enjoyed our beach walk and took a ton of photos. We decided that because of the weather we would head back to Auckland early and arrived at Elaine's around 12:30. We were very luck because both Elaine and Shane were home. We were also very lucky because their neighbours had recently moved out and we were able to park in their empty spot. Beau and I were starved so we went to a nearby food court and got some Indian food for lunch. Mine was a little bland but Beau's was pretty tasty. We then did some grocery shopping at the Asian food store, Countdown, and the Auckland fish market. We caught the free shuttle most of the way back to Elaine's. We did some laundry then I started on Tabouli salad to go with dinner. We made green curry muscles, they were amazing. I made up a green curry sauce then put the muscles in to steam. We also had focatia bread to dip in our curry sauce. I will definitely be making muscles like that again. We finished the evening with a movie called Tower Heist which was quite funny.
Piha Beach

Mar 1 – Goodbye Wingroad
Today we had to return our trusty Wingroad. We'll be sad to see him go, he was a good little car. So we dropped the car back at the rental company. They were a little surprised by the car being returned there since when we rented the car the computer systems were down and when the rental later got put into the system it was entered that we would be returning it to Christchurch. Of course our paperwork said otherwise and we returned it no problem. We got a ride back to Elaine's place and Beau popped out to pick up some avocado, tomato and chips for lunch. We did some laundry and got the tent, tarp and sleeping bags aired out. Later I went to go get a hair cut. I went to a hair academy down the road and got a $25 hair cut. The guy that cut my hair was not what I expect of a hair stylist graduate. He was middle aged, possibly middle eastern (his name might have been Housain), and barely said a word. He did an alright job but I just ended up with a blunt cut. One of the teachers asked me if I was going to be in the area for a little while because he was wondering if I could be a hair model. But obviously I'm leaving in two days so that wasn't going to happen. When I got back Elaine was home from school and I had almost forgotten we were supposed skype Mom and Dad soon. We all had a nice chat and I got to see and say hello to my monster Monty. I kind of miss the little bugger. Shane and Elaine made tacos for dinner and then we watched the first episode of Game of Thrones. Afterwards Beau and I skyped a couple in Melbourne, Monique and Ingo, who we might be house sitting for. They were very kind and offered to pick us up from the airport and said we could stay there until we started our HelpX placement.  We took the up on the offer.

Mar 2
This morning I skyped with Grandy for little bit. We had a lovely chat but the next time we talk she will be living in Kelowna. It's too bad we weren't able to visit her at her house in Wales but ca la vie! Beau and I got all our stuff packed up and ready to go for the morning. We have to catch a very early bus to the airport tomorrow so we want everything ready. Beau needed to exchange his snorkel since it was a little leaky and then Elaine came home from school. We were all going to go out together, Elaine and I had some shopping to do but then we realized we were going to be skyping cousin Kate soon. So Beau went and did his thing while Elaine and I got to have a great chat with Kate. We were meeting up with Shane for dinner and since Elaine and I didn't have a chance to go shopping earlier we decided to do a little before hand. Poor Beau got dragged along with us. We didn't do too much shopping, at least we didn't think so, but we were able to find me something for my birthday. We met Shane at an Indian restaurant and the food was super good. We split four different dishes with some naan and rice. Yum. We headed back to their house and watched another episode of Game of Thrones. We were up pretty late chatting and will probably only have about 3 or 4 hours of sleep tonight.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Snorkeling and Hiking

Feb 25 – Cathedral Cove
Our plan today was to snorkel at Cathedral Cove. We headed up around 10am and already the parking lot was packed. We ended up parking down the hill a little on an empty lot. I was a little worried at first about parking there but then about 6 other cars pulled in beside us so I figured we'd be fine. We walked down to Gemstone Bay which has a little snorkel track. There were buoys set up for you to follow. We hopped in the frigid water and started swimming. We saw a ton of snapper. They were actually following us around. We saw quite a few other fish too. We were quite chilly at this point so we started swimming for shore. I looked up and Beau was swimming full tilt in the wrong direction. Turns out he saw a ray and swam after it taking video. We warmed up in the sun for a bit and then Beau decided to go out again. I decided against this because I was still cold. While Beau was out I had a brief chat with a couple and it turns out the boats will fee the snappers which is why they were following us around. They were hoping to get fed. Beau came back out of the water and we decided to head out. The sun had been in and out from behind the clouds and didn't look like the clouds would be clearing. We parked down at Hahei beach and had some lunch. Then we casually walked into the holiday park we had stayed at last night and borrowed their showers. Once we were nice and clean we headed to Thames. In Thames we stopped into the i-Site for a little info on the Pinnacles hike then went to the grocery store. We headed into Kauaeranga Valley and set up camp at the DOC site right before the start of the hike. We had bought venison sausage to have in our dinner and I wasn't a big fan. It had a very strange texture. Beau tried to get a fire going but the wood was quite damp and our fire pit had a permanent grill on it which impeded his efforts. One side of it was a flat metal plate so the smoke just kept blowing in our face. We gave up on it and headed to bed. We hope to be up early so we can get a reasonable start on our hike.
Some Snapper

Feb 26 – The Pinnacles
We had planned to get up relatively early this morning but it was so chilly outside our sleeping bags that we put it off and didn't get up till about 8 am. After having breakfast we got our hiking stuff together and set off at about 9:30am. It was as beautiful day. The track started off fairly steep. It was a bit over grown too. There was some very rocky sections and a bit of water was running down the path. We crisscrossed some rivers and along the way there were some historical information sign post. This area used to be a huge kauri forest but in the early 1900's it was almost totally deforested. The track we were hiking was once used to by pack horse to bring supplies into the loggers. In some areas there were carved stone steps. I'm not sure if they had been warn down like this from the horses or if they were man made. We also crossed a few little suspension bridges that cautioned only 1 person at a time. The track was pretty forested for the first 2/3s until we hit a stop called Hydro camp. Then it opened up and we could see some of the scenery around us. It was pretty spectacular. We also got a glimpse of the Pinnacles peak which looked a little daunting. We reached the Pinnacles Hut by about noon. You can camp over night at the hut which we would have done if we had done a little more research prior to the hike. We set off for the peak after a little break and snack. It was a lot of up hill climbing, about 542 steps to be exact. Once you had completed the stair master there was some more up hill but it was similar to rock climbing. There were ladders to get up some areas and bars that had been secured into the rocks to help you over some of the steeper bits. It was intense! At the top there was an incredible view. You could see either side of the Coromandel Peninsula. We enjoyed our lunch up at the top in the sun shine. Then we started the descent. Man were my knees aching by the time we got down. Back at the hut we took a little detour to a historic kauri dam. The loggers built many of these dams to help send the logs down stream. Apparently about 20% of logs were destroyed in these log drives. We took a slighlyt different track at Hydro camp down Billy Goat Track. Some how we ended up going up hill again! Even though we couldn't see the mountains anymore parts of the forest were quite interesting. There were many palm trees growing, it was hard to believe that we were in a mountain range in New Zealand. We finally made it back to our camp around 4:45pm so we had a 7 hour and 15 minute hike in total. We were hot and sweaty so we went for a rejuvenating dip in the river. It was pretty brisk but felt amazing on the feet. It was really nice to rinse all the sweat off too. We made another fairly interesting dinner of just whatever there was. We'll probably never be able to recreate any of these meals but for the most part I'm not disappointed. The sun had set so we had another stab at having a fire tonight. We used a different fire pit that had a removable grill. We enjoyed a lovely campfire some some drinking chocolate and chocolate chip cookies before we bundled up for bed. It was another very chilly night.
The Pinnacles
Almost at the top

Crazy Climbing

The view
Feb 27 – North of Auckland
We had were pretty slow getting moving this morning, the tent was wet from all the condensation so we moved it into the sunshine to dry. After the usual breakfast (sans coffee press, it broke), clean up and pack up we headed back into Thames. We went into McDonald's to try to use their internet and got a coffee. The internet wasn't working well at this McD's so it took forever to check our e-mail. We then went to Pak 'n' Save and picked up some groceries and goodies for lunch. We went a park in town to eat our lunch which was cheese, crackers and smoked salmon pate. After our yummy lunch we hit the road and headed towards Goat Island again. We had a brief detour to get cheap gas. We reached Goat Island and were going to stay at the camp ground next door but it said Closed for a Private Function. So we had to go in search of another camp site. The next place we checked out cost way too much money so we vetoed that. We ended up a bit of a ways from Goat Island at a nice, reasonable holiday park in Mangawhai. There was a pool so we went for a swim but then it started to rain. So we got out of the pool, grabbed stuff out of the car for dinner and had a nice hot shower. There was a lovely covered patio area outside that we sat in while it rained and we started chopping stuff for dinner. It poured for awhile then cleared up for the rest of the evening. We weren't sure if it would rain again overnight so we opted for sleeping in the car.

Feb 28 – Goat Island Again
Turns out we could have slept in the tent last night since it didn't end up raining. We had breakfast and got reorganized with our snorkel gear handy. We drove back to Goat Island along the gravely road we took to get here. It took about an hour but it wasn't too busy at Goat Island when we arrived. We got set up on the beach with our camp chairs and sunned ourselves for a bit before getting wet. The water was pretty chilly but we decided against renting wetsuits. The tide was high so it was pretty easy to get in the water. We saw lots of fishes including large snapper, some goatfish, and several schools of some pointy nosed fish too. We got out of the water and warmed up in the sun some before heading up to the picnic tables to make some lunch. We had some nice tuna sandwiches on buns. After we headed back down but moved ourselves over to another spot where we went for another snorkel. We saw much of the same but got lucky and saw a ray. I was so excited I popped my head up and yelled at Beau to get his attention but then forgot to stick my snorkel back in my mouth so I ended up with a mouthful of water. We followed the ray for a short ways before the visibility became awful and it disappeared. We were happy with our two snorkels so called it a day and got rinsed off in the cold outdoor showers. We also got our equipment all cleaned off too. We were headed to Waitakere just west of Auckland and stopped into an i-Site in Orewa to get some info on where to stay tonight and the best way to get there. Unfortunately our maps suck and we made some wrong turns but McDonald's wifi came to our rescue and we Google mapped our way to Karekare, a tiny beach village south of Piha. We arrived shortly before sunset so headed to the beach to watch. We walked across some dunes and arrived at a huge black sand beach. I was having fun goofing around on the beach and we watched the sunset while snacking on some very spice Doritos. We went to our campsite and started setting up in the dark. We had been told there would be an honour box to drop our camp fees off in but there was no such thing just a sign that camping was by permit only. We were the only people there, it was dark so we figured we'd deal with it in the morning if a camp ranger came by. The mosquito were the worst we had experienced. We struggled to make dinner in the dark while being attacked by mosquito looking for their dinner. We made the strangest meal which was fitting for our last camping. We went to bed in the tent shortly after dinner.

Karekare Beach

The sunset at Karekare beach

Monday, 5 March 2012

Raglan, Te Arhoa, Coromandel

Feb 22 – Rotorua to Cambridge to Raglan
It was still raining on and off this morning. We weren't too bright last night either and left our camp chairs under the tarp so they were quite wet. We ate breakfast out of the back of the car then got packed up while trying to dry things out. We headed into town and did a quick internet weather check at the McD's. The weather doesn't look promising anywhere. Then we got on the highway and were headed for Raglan. Along the way we stopped off in the little town of Cambridge. Mom and Dad had suggested we stop here in my charm hunt but alas we had no luck. We made ourselves lunch under a covered BBQ area since it was still raining out. We then drove onwards through Hamilton into quaint little Raglan. We checked out the info center and got the details of the holiday parks in the area. We had a little walk around the town, it didn't take very long, and discovered free wifi at the library. It seemed faster than McD's so we'll try it in the morning to see if Beau can successfully update his site. We headed down the road to the holiday parks on the map and decided to stay and the last one we checked. They had a sauna, hot showers and were the cheapest. We had a nice sweat in the sauna then took a hot shower. We made dinner and enjoyed the rest of our wine sitting outside, it was a rain free and warm evening.

Feb 23 – Bridal Veil Falls and Te Arhoa
It had rained all last night but let up when we woke up this morning. We had placed the tarp over the back windows to keep some light out of the car. It of course was soaked so we had to mess around trying to dry it out. We had our breakfast and after the tarp was reasonably dry we got on our way. The weather was very grey and dreary. Not conducive to going to the beach to check out the surfers. We headed to the Raglan library so Beau could up date his website. We hung out there for about an hour, I read, and then decided to leave town. On our way out we detoured to Bridal Veil Falls. It was a huge water fall falling 55 meters. There were several view points and about 20min to the bottom or 200 odd steps. While the falls were beautiful it would have been more incredible if the water had been a nicer colour. It was a brown muddy colour from all the farms in the area. After the falls we drove back into Hamilton. We were pretty hungry and needed to pick up some groceries. We saw a Countdown and pulled into the lot, but instead of shopping on an empty stomach we set up our camp chairs on a grassy median and had our lunch there. After that we picked up a few groceries and continued on through Hamilton towards Te Arhoa. We found a reasonably priced camp ground and step up in the car there. They had free wifi, a lounge, and a spa, but sadly the spa wasn't open. While we were cooking dinner Beau noticed the beautiful sunset and grabbed the camera for a photo. Also at the camp ground a bunch of construction workers were staying here and Beau had a chat with a few of them while I was cooking. We ended the evening watching Project Runway and writing up the events of the past few days.
Bridal Veil Falls

Us at the bottom

Our sunset in Te Arhoa
Feb 24 – Back to Coromandel Peninsula
For breakfast we had a nice change and enjoyed eggs and potatoes. We were a little late heading out of the park and got a dirty look from the owner for it. It's not like we were in the way or taking up space since the lot was pretty empty. Our plan was to head back to the Coromandel and Cathedral Cove. We stopped into the Karangahake Gold Mines along the way. We went for a really nice walk through the gorge and saw the ruins of some of the buildings that used to be here. We also got to walk through some of the tunnels that the miners carved into the hillside. One part was quite interesting as the miners had carved “windows” into the tunnels so they could dump the goldless rocks out of them. We spent about an hour or two walking around the mines and then hit the road. We stopped into Matamata and had our lunch by the harbour and wharf. We then had a quick peek at the beach but decided to get closer to Cathedral Cove before stopping for the day. We reached Hahei (the little town that Cathedral Cove is in) and checked out the local holiday park. We felt it was over priced so we drove over the Cooks Cove for a price comparison and were appalled by their prices too. We opted for the first place since it was really close to Cathedral Cove. On the way back we stopped in Mercury Bay Estates and shared a flight of wine. It was another board of 5 wines that was brought out to us but they were sizeable tastings and we got to enjoy the beautiful view overlooking Cooks Cove. I really liked their Sauvignon Blanc but we didn't feel like paying $20 for a bottle. We checked into the Hahei holiday park then had a little walk on the beach. We decided to make dinner using our camp stove since the kitchen was a little ways away and was also very busy. We had a nice cup of tea after dinner and clean up and read our books in the car for a little while since it was chilly out.
One of the old batteries

Looking out a "window"

Looking down the gorge

Old mining parts in the river