Day 10 – The Far North

My morning started super early today – and because of that, I had a lovely view as I drank my coffee.

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The sunrises here in Kohukohu are just amazing!

I had a long drive this morning to meet my tour to go to the Far North, from Kohukohu to Awanui. The drive was uneventful and the road were pretty much empty, as it was Sunday morning.

My tour was meeting me at this cool little shop/attraction/cafe called Ancient Kauri Kingdom. Kauri wood is protected, so items made from it are very rare, and you can only use Kauri wood that has fallen – so they are rare (and expensive!).

I had lots of time to spare before my tour bus showed up, so I had a coffee in the cafe, then wandered around the really cool shop. Check out this awesomeness:

Then my bus arrived. This is one tricked out bus – made for the conditions we will encounter today:

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As we drove north – our first stop was the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes – which could be more accurately described as Sand Mountains. After a quick lesson by our tour guide on how to safely sand board, we were set free. Because of the concern that I might lose my phone in the sand I did not take any pictures from the top, or sliding down, but man – that slide down was crazy fast – and that climb to the top was no joke! Quite an adrenaline rush!

As we drove along, our driver pulled off the road at an interesting spot – it is the only spot from Highway 1 that you can see both the Tasman Sea to the West, and the Pacific Ocean to the East before you reach the top.

Our next stop was the “top of New Zealand” Cape Reinga. (It is not the furthest North point, just as Stirling Point wasn’t the furthest south, but it is where Highway 1 begins).

There was a brief (AND VERY BLUSTERY) walk down to the lighthouse, and it was a gorgeous walk. It was shocking to see the seas mixing together – I didn’t realize how clear it was going to be to see them merging together – no wonder the Maori had such interesting beliefs about this place! You can read about them on the signs and enjoy the stunning scenery here at the top of New Zealand!

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After the blustery walk, we headed for our next stop – and the main reason we had such a tricked out bus – the drive along 90 Mile Beach.

We did pull to the side to take a quick picture of the white silicone sand off the coast of New Zealand (Pacific Side)- it was glistening.

90 Mile Beach is not actually 90 miles, it is much shorter, and is an actual sanctioned road in New Zealand – but it can only be accessed at low tide – and can be very treacherous. Most rental cars say you are not allowed to take your car on the road, but apparently people get stuck regularly, and in the worst cases, get swept away when they do not heed the warnings. I was happy to be riding along with the professional guide navigating the soft, bumpy sand.

We did get to pull to the side and get out – but it was so windy, so it was a short stop.

Somewhere in this story we did stop for lunch – I think before the beach – but this was the end of our tour. Once I was back at my car, I explored Kohukohu a little – including a visit to the “oldest bridge in New Zealand” which was actually just a foot bridge, but a fun stop none the less.

It was a fun day!

Saturday in Sydney

I started my Australian Adventure early, leaving the house at 5:45 for my flight to Sydney – because it was International, I felt that I needed to plan on the 3 hour travel time as stated on the website. I also was unable to check into my flight online, so I wanted to do what I could to secure I decent seat, if possible. I didn’t need to worry – my flight was obviously booked at a higher tier than I thought, so I had a seat with “the works”, my bag was free, as was a meal on board, and I had a lovely window seat, 2A. A pleasant surprise! I checked in my bag, then decided I would enjoy a nice flat white and breakfast before heading to the international security check point. I am glad I didn’t rush, as the security check point didn’t open until 7:30! Thankfully the Wellington Airport is lovely – and has free wifi – and comfy chairs (by airport standards) and I settled in with Netflix and watched the fine, high-quality entertainment that can only be given in the form of a Mel Brooks movie – “Robin Hood – Men in Tights”.  I breezed through security and awaited boarding. The flight was an easy 3 hour crossing of the Tasman – Air NZ has great entertainment options, and the flight wasn’t full, so I had my row to myself – I love when that happens!

Check out these views coming into Sydney!

 

Arrval in Sydney was smooth, I collected my luggage, then cleared customs. While in the airport I got a Optus sim card (for Data) and an Opal card for the Sydney Transit system, then caught the train to Central Station, a short walk from my Hostel.

The hostel is nothing special, but I am in a solo room, so I will survive. (Although the stinky wifi makes me really happy I got the cellphone data card!)

After settling in and shifting my day bag around, I was ready to explore, and decided that the Big Bus Tour was the way to go – so I walked back to Central and “hopped” on the bus.

Sydney is a big city, and is very Victorian, as you can see from the pictures!

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Check out the Aboriginal Artists –

And this crazy wall at the convention center:

I hopped off a few stops, including at the Opera House at the end of the day – it was gorgeous!

After catching the last Big Bus back to Central, I wandered back to the Hostel, stopping and picking up Sushi on my way. To my New Zealand time zone adjusted self, it felt like almost midnight, and I had been up since 4:45 AM,so I was in bed by 8:30 – especially since I couldn’t update my blog – the hostel wifi is the WORST! (This blog update is brought to you by “Macca’s” (Also known as McDonalds!), and the data plan on my cellphone! 🙂

Tomorrow’s adventures are a trip out to Bondi Beach, and probably exploring the Botanical Gardens!