From green to gold..

Trip Start Nov 09, 2011
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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, April 2, 2012

monday 19th
the owner of the campsite was very amusing and i chatted with him about all the places we hope to visit many of which he had already experienced and so shared some good advice and stories..after getting in touch with mum on skype...european mothers day ..it started to pour with rain and so we sat it out for a while in our van..eventually leaving around noon..we headed along the sh2 to whakatane ..

it continued raining so we did not stop even though passing some nice beaches, ohope was very upmarket with obvious $2m properties scattered all along the seafront..and then at matata the opposite..wooden shacks with rusting cars in the overgrown gardens..

leaving the coastline we drove to te puke the capital of kiwi fruit production in new zealand,producing 80% of all the little green fruit eaten here, the roads are surrounded by huge poplar trees protecting the kiwi orchards behind them.. so it was appropriate for us to spend the night in a kiwi farm ochard POP..

tuesday 20th
we woke up to hundreds of little green/brown furry fruits dangling from their vines I had never seen so many all at once before..!! it was very interesting to see how they grow them... just like grape vines...

so on to papamoa for breakfast, a long stretch of peaceful white sandy beach with surfers making the most of the pacific waves..the sun was trying to come out and blue sky was visable...but as it was quite windy we headed onwards to mount maunganui..

this is an extinct volcanoe rising above the safe sheltered harbour beach one side and the pacific coast the other..we followed the walkway to the 800ft summit for amazing views over the harbour,ocean and city..we returned to the van just in time as only minutes later in poured again..we had lunch watching the surfers carefree of the rain..after a short shopping spree in the buzy all year round holiday town of maunganui with cafes, bars and surfers everywhere we carried on to the tiny village of te puna where the caravan book found us a quiet spot right next to the river..

wednesday 21st
it rained a lot in the night so here by the river it was a very disturbed night..but by morning the clouds were clearing and we drove on to katikati where the history, people and events are woven into murals covering literally every available wall in the town..even the new supermarket has joined in with their wall painted as if a 1880s blacksmiths shop..

we continued on to the pacific coast beach of waihi where we stayed in a top 10 campsite..

thurdsday 22nd
with its nine beautiful kilometres of pristine white sand, which we walked along, and at the north end its difficult cliff walk, which we climbed, with views back down onto the beach, we decided to stay another night here..eventhough last night was the worst storms i have ever experienced, in a van anyway...the van shook most of the night from the wind ..huge branches were hitting us and all the vans around and the rain seemed to be pounding on the roof like a hammer..today the sun shone and the sky was blue...the guy in the camp office said it was the remains of a cyclone from oz..

after our walks we went for lovely swim in the heated pool and then a hot spa awesome today has to be the hottest day for ages..we were blessed again...!!..

friday 23rd..
a good nights sleep at last for us so after another fabulous swim and spa we set off again to waihi town 9kms inland from the beach...

it was the lure of gold in 1878 that brought people to waihi...marthas mine to the north of the town was soon the most important gold mine in the world producing the highest value of gold per tonne of ore..the 175km network of tunnels produced 174,160kg of gold and over 1million kg silver from 1879 - 1952 when it closed.. in 1987 the pit was reopened as new technology was brought in and the whole area was dug out to produce an open pit mine..today you can walk around the edge of the working mine and we saw huge 100tonne trucks moving 80 tonnes of rocks at a time to produce about $1m of gold a week..the mine is 850ft deep and 1km diameter.robin watched the trucks for ages and one was on display near by, the wheels were bigger than he was..and ladders were needed to get up to the cab..

we drove on to karangahake gorge where a 2hour walk took us through old mining tunnels tramways and kilns from the 1850s.we went past breathtaking scenery up the river gorge scrambling over relics and ruins of gold producing factories...it was awesome the path first followed the tramway under the cliff face over a swingbridge over the river  to the mine entrance then through 3 long dark mining shafts, we needed our torches to see as we followed the tracks in the dark.. with occasional shafts to the cliff edge "windows" with great views down to the gorge, originally built to throw the debris out into the river..eventually coming out alongside the ruins of the factory..it was the most interesting walk we had been on..

we stayed in the doc at dickeys flat further up the river ...

saturday 24th
we had not decided what we were going to do today so how awesome that a lady came across from another van in the campsite and told us of a super walk up stream.. we set off, again with torches, following the river bank then crossing twice on swing bridges..we are getting used to them now, as they do, as it says, swing...lol..then after some native woodland we came to the cave... actually a 120m tunnel in the rocks next to the river .. it was very muddy under foot and the cave roof was low..yes i banged my head..but it was exciting wondering what was round the corner....half way down the tunnel above us we saw the tiny flourescent glow of the worms...at first unsure if we were seeing the glow worms i had been wanting to encounter on this trip... and yes when we shone the torches and looked closer the little worms and their silky cocoons were abundent over the whole roof..not more than a mm across and only 50mm long these little creatures live under ground with their little glowing heads...amazing..another tick in my " to do" box...!!

so after a great walk and so blessed to see the worms, we set off for whangamata a large sandy beach but a bit desolate so we continued to tairua a popular resort on the estuary with a very helpful lady in the i site who told us where to stay for the night, a nice spot down by the riverside...!!



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