23 day tour and already on to day 3
Sort of home turf this first section of the tour. Northland Province but unfortunately I do not get the luxury of a home visit to see the boss Xiaoli, or my 4 beautiful children, the dogs. 120km further north and although I have today largely off I still need be on call for the clients.
The tour started Auckland and we headed for the Gannet colony at Muriwai. Doesn’t really give me a buzz but then I openly say sea birds do not really enthuse me. But the guests were happy. Obviously only an hour at that stage so not really into tour mode and we are all strangers to each other. But already it was showing that we had smiles and a sense of humour in the bus. A good start.
On to the Matakohe Kauri Museum. Everytime I go there I think what a pity this museum is not on a main tourist route. It really is worth a visit and to add to it there is a good café opposite if you seek a coffee or a bit of a feed.
On to Tane Mahuta, the god of Waipoua Forest. People are always in awe of this giant Kauri Tree. Height I can never remember but is circumference measuring 13 metres. Photographs never do it justice as you never really appreciate the sheer size of Tane Mahuta.
Footprints, a guide service run by the local Iwi met us at Tane Mahuta and told our group all about the god of the forest. Very well done and if you are visiting the area I suggest you may consider booking the short tour with our friends at ‘Footprints’.
On to Opinoni for the night on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour staying at the Copthorne Hotel. The hotel was okay but I am sorry but if anyone from the Copthorne is reading this, the dinner meal I could not even rate average and all the group agreed, it was terrible. A pity because the restaurant sits in such an idyllic place over looking the harbour. The food was horrible but I will say the staff were fantastic.
The morning we left Opinoni we did a short excursion across the harbour for some sand boarding on the dunes. Not a buzz factor for me as we do sand boarding on the giant Te Paki sand dunes further north. But 4 that did the boards enjoyed so all good.
On towards Paihia. A coffee stop in Kaikohe then on to the Rainbow Falls at Kerikeri. Worth a visit for anyone passing through Kerikeri. Not far off the main road and the walk is short. You can even take a swim in the pool below the falls of that takes your fancy. Just google ‘Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri’. You will find it.
Then to the Stone Store and Kemp House at Kerikeri. We lunched first in the Honey Café behind. Coffee fine, service great, food average.
At the Stone Store we had booked a guided tour. Very informative for the group. Obviously not new information to me but well done and a very important part of our history.
On to Waitangi and the treaty ground where the treaty between the English and the Maori’s was signed. A very important document in New Zealand’s history.
Now if you are going to visit Waitangi on tour which I recommend you do, take the guided tour. It takes an hour but I rate highly.
Another Copthorne Hotel but this time Waitangi. The hotel is certainly not new but very clean and tidy. Corridors are long so be ready to do a lot of walking if you need go back to the restaurant or bar.
We made a mistake as we arranged to eat in their restaurant. But on booking I should have asked what time the big bus groups were eating. We seemed to coincide with their arrival in the restaurant. The buffet food was okay but because of our timing some dishes were sadly lacking in food. The restaurant was refilling but it took a few trips to the buffet to get what you wanted. So my mistake for not checking with the restaurant on booking. And yes, I should have known better so am kicking myself.
Tday my rest day. Put some of the group on the dolphin boat the rest elected to stay hotel bound. Yesterday the obvious signs of jetlag were there so hopefully today all will just take the opportunity to rest.
Tomorrow its Auckland, then Christmas Day Rotorua. Christmas dinner being the hangi feast at Te Puia.
I have not asked Xiaoli how she is coping up north with our accommodation but I know both houses are booked out until early January. We agreed I concentrate on the tour, she will look after the Ninety Beach side of our business. We do talk or message each other on wechat 3 or 4 times a day but both avoid asking about each others business. We cannot help each other and both have our own stress issues that come with being full on so must deal with that ourselves.