A Travellerspoint blog



overcast 15 °C
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After I collected James we headed straight for Whitianga. It turned out to be a pretty small town and oddly enough it seems that most of our time there was spend driving around half lost. Either that or sitting in a cafe downing coffees and hot chocolates and trying to somewhat plan the days ahead. We stayed at Turtle Cove Backpackers, as per Rachel's suggestion. The only real activity we did there was go to Bay Carving and make our own bone necklaces. It was quite interesting and a good cold/rainyish day activity.

Posted by karencook 19:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Coromandel Peninsula


sunny 18 °C
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So I finally made it to the Coromandel. After a year of people telling me how nice it is and that I just HAVE to go there. My first stop was Thames. I had thought I would stay the night there but was pretty unimpressed to I continued on and spent the night further up the coast at a holiday park. The next morning I rolled into Coromandel Town with a next to empty gas tank and m hair straightener on my roof. Oops. The town was unbelievably cute.

But small, Very small. I had thought about spending the afternoon there before heading up the coast, but I was through with the town in about 15 minutes. So I headed up the west coast of the peninsula right to the top - Fletchers Bay. The views along the way were nice.




At Fletchers Bay I did a short hike - short because I turned around after half an hour because it wasn't nearly as nice as I had expected it to be. I thought it would be a nice coastal track but instead just found myself heading inland through fields and sheep poop.
I headed back down the coast and found myself a nice little spot to chill out, read and wait for the sun to set.

After a very cold night's sleep I headed back to Coromandel Town, had a nice warm coffee and picked up my friend James.

Posted by karencook 19:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



sunny 22 °C
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So surprise surprise. More consecutive days off work. Once again decided to make the most of it and get to Hokianga before my time in Paihia was through. I had no plan of course, but I had my car and sunshine. I headed off and spent the majority of the days just driving around new landscape. When I arrived in Opononi I headed right for the beach.
I camped at a holiday park that night. The next day was spent at he beach, doing a hike and driving around the coutryside. I decided to head home later that evening instead of staying another night, so it was a pretty short trip, but I'm glad I went.


Posted by karencook 23:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Northland Adventure


sunny 24 °C
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I had a few days off from work again. Unwanted days off that is. So I decided to make the most of it and take off for a few days in search of something new. Being in a beachy mood, like I always am, I decided to head up north to the Karikari Peninsula. Being me, I had no specific plan in mind other than to get in the car, drive and see where I ended up. I left Paihia around 2pm on Tuesday and stopped in Kerikeri for a chiropractor appt. My first stop was going to be Matauri Bay. Someone had once told me not to take the first turn off to Matauri Bay, but the second instead. Bad advice as it ended up being a much longer drive. Eventually I came up over a hill and had my first glimpse of the Cavalli Islands.
Stunning. I could see why Steve loved it there so much. I immediately pulled over for a photo op. Continued on my way til I arrived at Matauri Bay.
It was love at first sight. Lovely white sand, beautiful blue water, perfect waves and a lone surfer with the islands as a backdrop. I hung out for awhile, read my book on the beach but eventually had to leave to find somewhere to stay for the night.
I had it in my mind that I would stay at a little beach I had passed along the way. There was a sun shower as I drove and I arrived to find a giant rainbow that ended just out in the water off the beach.
DSC05258.jpglarge_DSC05256.jpgMaybe not a pot of gold, but a sign that this was my home for the night. The rain didn't last long and after taking a few pictures I sprawled out on the beach with my book. And yes, pretty much all I did this trip was take pictures and read!
The next morning I headed further north, first taking a side trip to Whangaroa Harbour. Another of Steve's favorite places. And aside from that, I've become addicted to caffeine (workplace hazard) and needed my daily fix. I was impressed once again. It was a cloudy day, but when I arrived, it was windless and the water was flat and calm. Another photo op.

Got myself a mocha and took a walk along the harbour. As soon as the caffeine kicked in I was in the car and heading north again. As I got further along, the sun was struggling to appear so I decided to stop for awhile around Cooper's Beach/Cable Bay (two places I had first seen on my first trip up to Cape Reinga and had told myself I would get back to and spend more time there). I backed my car in at a rest stop popped the hatch and laid on my bed reading and watching the ocean.
Eventually I continued along yet again, finally reaching the Karikari Peninsula. I headed straight for Matai Bay which, according to random people AND Lonely Planet, was supposed to be the most beautiful of all the beaches on the Peninsula. It was definitely gorgeous.
And not another soul around. I love when that happens! It had a big main beach then by walking around the rocks through the water, there was a little tiny beach, cozy, sheltered and secluded.
large_DSC05379.jpgMatai Bay is actually 2 bays. I didn't think the one further north was quite as nice.
After completing my obligatory reading / photographing I drove around a bit and checked out the other beaches. Eventually it got late and it was time for food and finding a place to stay. I grabbed food at the only place there really was to get food, and headed over to Rangiputa to eat it, because it was the west facing beach and I love sunsets. DSC05356.jpg
large_DSC05362.jpgTurns out it was a good place to go because I discovered a good place to stay for the night. Bonus – other people had discovered the same place. I just always feel safer when other people are camping in the same place as me and I'm not totally completely alone in some random place that I don't know at all. Northland can be sketchy. The sky that night was amazing. SO many stars. I've been told that Northland is one of the best places in the world to view the sky. After Hawaii, I'm sure. :p So I had a great sleep and because I strategically parked backed up to a giant hill that would block the rising sun til late, I actually managed to sleep past 7. I headed off from my spot in search of coffee, Which I learned couldn't be obtained until after 11am. So I went for a shower and killed a little time at Matai Bay before heading to Carrington Winery's Cafe for a mocha and a stunning view.
DSC05382.jpgStunning view. It made that mocha last me longer than any drink ever has before. Ultimately I pried myself up from my chair and headed to Karikari Beach. I had passed by the day before and saw there was a walking track there. Turned out the walking track was really just a path down to the beach. The most stunning beach of all, that is. White sand. Clear water. Reminded me so much of Hawaii.


I ended up spending hours there. In that whole time I saw maybe 5 other people. None of whom stayed very long. I worked on my tan (in other words got burnt) read my book (I was on to my second book of the trip at this point), took too many photos, swam, went for a walk and collected too many shells because they were all big and pretty. Once I was feeling crispy and hungry, it was time to reluctantly leave.
I decided to start the drive back home so I wouldn't have as far to go the next day and could hopefully get in a real shower and a nap before work. I headed back down to Cable Bay. Went for a nice walk through a beautiful nature reserve, read my book on the beach and spent the night there.
The next morning I had a little bit of time for a morning walk on the beach and some reading, then I headed back home wishing I didn't have to go. But first I made a stop for coffee. :)

Posted by karencook 01:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Non-Holidays in Paihia


sunny 25 °C
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So the holidays ended and Marie had to go back home so life eventually settled down from the non-stop party it had become. Life got real.
I acquired a job as a bartender/server/barista at a newish place in town called The Pier Cafe and Lounge. It was a love hate kind of gig. Nothing much else too exciting happened this summer. Never really went out or did anything. Just worked and tried to save money. Went to the wine festival in Kerkeri with Emily, Rachel and Pam. That was a good time. It was a beautiful summer in the bay. Barely any rain, actually a drought was declared in some of NZ. So very different from last summer.
Other than that I just panicked about having to leave Paihia and New Zealand while trying to figure out where to go and what to see in the country before I'm gone.

Posted by karencook 00:39 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



sunny 24 °C
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So Steve and I had the brilliant to head to Raglan for the weekend. The "weekend" that is. As in Steve's weekend. Which is usually Sunday-Monday but this week just happened to be Monday-Tuesday. He had worked Sunday night because it was a long weekend so he had Tuesday night off in lieu of it. I on the other hand, just happened to have Sunday, Monday AND Tuesday off out of sheer randomness. I had decided to make the most out of this unwanted time off and go see somewhere I hadn't been before. My thoughts were Hokianga/Opanoni. Not too far away – only about an hour and a half drive over to the west coast and supposed to be absolutely stunning.
At some point I found out Steve had Tuesday off and invited him to come along, thinking it would be more fun to go with someone and it would be nice to actually spend some real time together. He of course wanted to go somewhere that he had never been before and he especially wanted to get the hell out of Northland so we tossed around the idea of Waiheke Island or Raglan with Raglan winning due only to the cost of the car ferry/barge to Waiheke.
So Monday morning we hopped in the car. Well, I hopped, Steve was still half asleep and therefore wasn't very hoppy yet. Traffic was somewhat annoying what with the holidayers all heading back south to Auckland and there were loads of police on the roads. So the rive kind of dragged on. After we got south of Auckland we (Steve) decided we should take the scenic route. Definitely my biggest regret of the trip. Or even of all my time in New Zealand. Most annoying road ever. I hate not being able to drive fast. Although the landscapes on this route were amazingly beautiful, it was the worst drive ever. The road was sooooo windy and long. I could rarely go over 40 and thought we would never come out the other end. And there were NO opportunities for us to meet back up with the freeway and take it instead. So the scenic route ended up involving me trying to drive about two and a half times the speed limit and screeching the tires on every turn getting angrier and more frustrated with each one, and Steve holding on and constantly telling me to slow down. So we spent that whole road fighting. I NEVER thought we would see Raglan. It was supposedly a 4.5ish hours drive from Paihia on the MAIN roads but we managed to turn it in to about a 6-6.5 hours journey.
When we finally arrived we checked out the town

– which took all of 2 minutes walking, and then headed off in search of a place to stay. We ended up with a campsite at Solscape and Steve put up the tent while I too off to the beach for a swim and to catch the last rays of the day. Steve showed p later with some beers and we just relaxed on the beach for awhile. Later on we headed back to Solscape to shower and then headed into town for dinner. only to find out that amazingly things in Raglan close even earlier than they do in Paihia. So we ended up with a only one place to choose from, which I guess isn't really a choice at all. It was the place Steve had been leaning toward earlier so it was all good. It was a Cambodian restaurant, which turned out to be pretty much the same as Thai. It was goo though, so no complaints. The next day we spent part of in town chilling out, drinking coffee and Steve got a haircut. The rest of the day was spent at the beach, swimming, body surfing on my inflateable jandle and getting nasty sunburns. That last one was more Steve than me. We attempted to head into town earlier so we would have more food options. And we decided on Vinnie's. Which was a flailing restaurant we had seen on a restaurant makeover show months and months previously. Cool little place. Decent food. But absolutely dead other than Steve and I. Then next morning it was coffees and hitting the road. Stuck to the freeway and it was a much better drive. Made it home in time for both of us to go to work. Yay!



Posted by karencook 01:38 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Holidays in Paihia


rain 22 °C
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I arrived back in Paihia on the 19th of December. Exactly a month after I had left. I was so eager to get back that I left directly from work. When I got back I went to the hostel to see Rach because I was staying at her place for a couple of nights. After I got settled I headed to the bar to surprise my friend Steve – he wasn't expecting my to be back til Friday.
Friday was a big day. My friend Marie arrived back in Paihia from Germany. She was only staying for a couple of weeks. I also moved from Rach's place to Steves.
The weather over Christmas was pretty bad. Insanely rainy and windy due to some cyclone or another attacking Fiji or Samoa or somewhere. But I was just happy it wasn't freezing cold and snowing. :)
Christmas eve was spent out drinking at the Salty. The bar closed at 12 and Marie, Steve and I hung out at his place afterwards.
Christmas morning I went to the hostel in the morning for a pancake breakfast, made by Phil. Then I headed back to Steve's for a nap and then a day of Christmas movies followed by Christmas dinner – chicken, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc. Afterwards we watched another movie then went to bed.
In the week between Christmas and New Years I spent a lot of time at the beach and the bar hanging out with Marie.
New Years Eve was spent at the Salty of course. The bar was open until 3 so we just partied our butts off. It was awesome. :)

Posted by karencook 15:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



-21 °C
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Arrived in the lovely town of Pukenui Monday evening. Not sure if it's even a town. It consists of a 4square, bottleshop and takeaway. And 2 lodges. One of which I called my home for 5 weeks or so. Loads of Germans of course, with an Italian and an Aussie thrown into the mix.
We were supposed to start picking avocados Tuesday morning but it absolutely poured. Ahhh - Northland. Wednesday morning it was also raining but it had cleared up enough by 10 that we were able to get out avocado picking careers underway. The work turned out to be pretty easy. Really nothing to complain about other than boredom. I ended up picking with the Ozzie guy - Red - which was great because we got along amazingly and were able to fill our days with talking about everything and anything and making up games to pass the time. The work itself was really nothing spectacular overall. Just a way to make money. But I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some awesome people. The time spent away from work was spent hanging out with these new friends and exploring the Northland area. I got to discover some amazing beaches, visit giant sand dunes, go fishing, and make another trip up to Cape Reinga.
The job that was promised to last 3-4 weeks ended up lasting 5. And as the weeks went on I got more and more homesick for Paihia. I still have the urge to explore more of the Far North, but for now I am thrilled to be heading home. And just in time for Christmas!

Posted by karencook 00:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Weekend in Paihia


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So I left Kerikeri basically as fast as I could and arrived in Paihia minutes later for a nice relaxing weekend. I stayed at my friend Steve`s place and had a lovely time catching up with friends - dinners, a few drinks, the beach and sleeping in. It was great.

Posted by karencook 00:13 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



-19 °C
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After a long roadtrip from Paihia, I arrived at Hideaway Lodge in Kerkeri. Spent the next 4 weeks working random days for cash and traveling the 15 minutes back to Paihia for visits and to curb my withdrawls. Started my illustrious zucchini picking career on Oct 5. Changed farms. Spend 6 weeks breaking my back by bending down a couple thousand times a day to pick zucchini. Worked 6 days a week, sometimes 7, sometimes in the heat - getting awful tan lines (tramp stamp tans :p) sometimes in the absolute pouring rain - getting wetter than I would have thought possible -all for minimum wage. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore because I was in SO much pain ALL the time, so I quit! Best decision ever!!

Posted by karencook 19:29 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Back Home to Paihia :)


-17 °C
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So I rolled back on up to Paihia the day after I got my car. I couldn't WAIT to get home. I was fairly certain that I would get the first speeding ticket of my life on the drive up. It was So hard not to speed. I rolled up to Saltwater Lodge amid the last-minute scramble to get things ready for the 100-ish Japanese rugby players that would be cramming into the hostel in just a few short hours. Within minutes of my arrival I was making beds.
I moved into the games room with Rach. Fun times listening to endless ping pong games going on outside our not to soundproof roll-up door. Spent a good week partying and catching up with friends.

Posted by karencook 19:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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