|Rotorua & Bay of Plenty
Checking my remaining time in New Zealand and the maps at hand I now could see the writing on the wall in terms of ending my trip. With just 6 days to go as I left Hahei and the Coromandel I decided to start picking up the pace a bit and use up the hours on my Flexi-Pass and see some of the North Island. I settled on a route through Tauranga to Rotorua and then out to Whakatane (this is where the 'f' for 'wh' gets amusing!!) and perhaps on to Gisborne and Napier before returning to Auckland via Taupo.
The owners of Tatahi Lodge gave me a ride to Thames on their weekly shopping trip and I picked up the Inter-City bus to Tauranga later that afternoon. A busy harbour town Tauranga is nice enough but no beach and little to invite a longer stay for me. So it was off to Rotorua the next day and despite the hype I have to say other than the thermal pools in the city park Rotorua was a major bust. I guess it didn't help that yet again it was pouring with rain. Next stop Whakatane (yes it is pronounced 'fuk a tawny') at the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty and Lloyd's Lodge (90% by BBH).
Ahh back to paradise! On arriving at Whakatane and with my recent experience of the bigger towns of Rotorua and Tauranga I quickly decided to spend the rest of my time here and make my way back to Auckland for my flight at the last minute.
The first full day in Whakatane I took the track (trail) right out of town around Kohi Point and over to Otarawairere Bay and the next village Ohope Beach. What a great walk especially right from the hostel doorstep. There are great views of the town and Whakatane Heads from the ridge crest and Otarawairere Bay is spectacular oh and the sun shone (almost) all day.
The hike does a circuitous route so from Ohope Beach I picked up the Nga Tapuwae o Toi Track through the Ohope and Mokoroa Bush scenic reserves. I put a bit of pace on for the way back as it naturally began raining again. This time I was prepared though having finally bought an umbrella.
The next few days I took things a bit more leisurely, there was the River Walk along the town foreshore but other than that I did a little shopping for gifts to bring back home and caught up with a bit of work including finishing up this travel-log.
My impressions of New Zealand are that I will hopefully come back here. It is a very beautiful country and having only seen one part of one of the islands I know there is plenty more waiting on the South Island. Next time I'll choose a warmer part of the year but all things considered the weather was pretty fine. As you'd expect from a small island country in a big sea the weather is very changeable and if it rains it is sunny within the half hour.
So tomorrow (October 10th) it's back to Auckland for one last night and my flight back to Vancouver via L.A. I'll have the rich tones of my hosts at Lloyd's Lodge Hare and Pam ringing in my ears from the wonderful evening of singing, story telling and sharing of Maori culture I was lucky to share on my last evening in Whakatane.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my travels down-under and if you are planning a trip here maybe it was some help.