In 2000 we went back to New Zealand, again to Napier and in December 2000 / January 2001 we toured the North Island extensively, including Auckland and the very picturesque Bay of Islands area right up north on North Island. Scott & Dee came to New Zealand to spend Christmas with us.

We spent time in Auckland, on the way back from the Bay of Islands. We were in Auckland for New Year's Eve, and watched a really fantastic fireworks display from Viaduct Harbour.

The firework display was from the top of Sky Tower and seeing fireworks being ignited from the height of the Tower was quite something.

Taupo is a holiday resort about 140 kilometres inland from Napier and has quite a few interesting sights in its vicinity. Firstly there are the 2 still active snow-capped volcanoes on Taupo Lake. The lake itself is enormous and apparently extremely deep. It is also well known for trout fishing. Taupo has a think the highest density of motels and hotels in New Zealand, but beware, it is always a little difficult to get in without a reservation, even out of high season. It is a pretty town with plenty character and worth visiting.

About 10 kilometres from Taupo on the Waikato River is the Huka Falls, these are a must see. On a sunny day the water in the river, especially the water in the falls is the most wonderful, crystal clear water, which rushes over the falls with the most amazing speed and force. Further down the river, twice a day, they open the sluice gates to the hydro-electric power station and flood the river below the gates - this too, is the most amazing thing to see.

Just a few miles further on is a natural steam area known as the Craters of the Moon. Here, one can walk through this natural steam area, where steam spurts from holes in the ground, where mud boils in mini craters - leaving one with the feeling that one is really on the moon. Another feeling is slight apprehension - just what is below one? Also close by is a power generating plant fuelled by the natural steam in the area.

Rotorua was next - this town is in an area of great thermal activity. Here one sees geysers all over, bubbling mud and general thermal activity - but the smell of sulphur is very strong until one acclimatizes.

Tauranga and Mt Maunganui are well worth visiting. Tauranga appears to be the boat building area in New Zealand, we saw a US $40 million boat built for an American couple in Auckland, that had been built in Tauranga. Mt Maunganui is the beach area of Tauranga, it beaches are very clean and white.

We spent Old years Night in Auckland, and watched a most spectacular fireworks display that took place on top of the Skytower, in downtown Auckland. It was quite a sight. Queen Street, the main shopping street in Auckland is very interesting, with all the well known international brand names to be found. In many ways, Auckland reminds us of Vancouver, as it too, is surrounded by water, has congested roads and bridges, but it is a very pretty city. It is called the City of Sails, there certainly are plenty sail boats, in the many marinas.

From Auckland we headed north to the Bay of Islands area. I
f you propose visiting this area in season, book well in advance. we tried about 6 weeks beforehand and every hotel was fully booked in Paihia, Russell and surrounding towns. By pure chance we managed to find a room in a comfortable motel in Keri-Keri that had just had a cancellation.

must do. When in this area take a day's trip on one of the boats that do the Bay of Islands. We went on a Walkers boat, which was in excellent condition, the skipper and crew were friendly and the skipper was excellent as a tour guide. The weather the day we went was sunny and clear, so we had a wonderful day visiting all the surrounding islands and towns. The little bays are beautiful and we saw plenty fish life as well. The Hole in the Wall is quite a sight, made even more interesting by our boat going through the hole.

The sun in New Zealand is the hottest of all the places we have been, 1 hour in the sun and you will get quite badly sun burnt, so take suitable precautions.

There is plenty to see in this area, there are many interesting places to drive to, not too far away.

Paihia is a typical seaside resort, Keri-Keri is more of an older village, with less hustle and bustle, but interesting.

Further north on the West coast is the 100 mile beach, coach tours go there most days in season and they actually drive on the beach. Although we did not do a tour there, I believe it is an experience not to be missed.

New Zealand is a fascinating country with a wide range of things to do, see and partake in. The Kiwis are Adrenalin Junkies, so anything that's hairy, scary or just plain fun they participate in with great joy and excitement. The people are generally friendly and helpful, even in the cities. The only negative of concern we experienced was the loutish behaviour of teenagers and young adults once they had had a few drinks - for some reason normally peaceful people became fairly aggressive after a drink or two.

We spent time in Auckland, on the way back from the Bay of Islands. We were in Auckland for New Year's Eve, and watched a really fantastic fireworks display from Viaduct Harbour.
 
The firework display was from the top of Sky Tower and seeing fireworks being ignited from the height of the Tower was quite something
.

 

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Boiling Mud at Wai-O-Tapu
Huka Falls
Mt. Ruapehu, viewed from Taupo
Click on map for larger image
Hole in the Wall, Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands
Skycity Tower, Auckland. Old Year's Eve 2000
New Zealand
2000 North Island trip with Scott & Dee