NEW ZEALAND, Bay of Plenty,
18-20 Feb 2013
Bay of Plenty including Papamoa beach, Hobbiton,Rotorua and Gisborne
New Zealand, Bay of Plenty 18-20 feb 2013 papamoa, rotorua, gisborne, covering amongst others 145 selective slideshow images, Britz Mercedes motorhome, matamata, hobbiton, hobbit holes, sam wise gangee, lord of the rings, peter Jackson, hahei beach, cathedral cove caves, frodo, bilbo baggins, waiha beach, katikati and wall art murals, pukeko, Tauranga, james cook, farthing woods, te karaka, papamoa beach, ocean drive, fave campsite in all the world, Tip Top icecreams, boysenberry, hokey pokey, the Pacific Ocean, precious, dragon inn, gandalf, party tree, mount manganui, waioeka, opotiki, White Goose Winery, Gold medal plum wine, Feijoa (unique friut to NZ), top 10 campsites, kiwi campsites, whakatane, ohope, the ngaitai maoris, white island (smoking again in 2017 sadly a death trap dec 2019), whangamata, beaches, kahikatea range, young nick, Captain James Cook (definitely one of our heroes), otahu river, ocean beach, hauturu island, maukaha rocks, karangahake gorge, paeroa, waikino, railway café, bay of plenty, i-site, Maori poles, holiday baches. We were previously in this area in 2007 and then again in 2017.
Monday February 18th 2013
Summary, Hot Water Beach to Papamoa Beach
It rained at 8am but not for long. We left the campsite and drove to Hahei, Hahei beach and Cathedral Cove caves. Hahei is a small beach with lots of holiday homes most of which are closed, and empty given away by the shuttered blinds on windows. Clearly holiday baches.
We then drove down along the highway to Waihi beach where we had lunch. There were steep roads crossing the Coromandel Ranges to get there.
Some background info on Waihi Beach is it is a coastal town at the western end of the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's North Island. It lies 10 kilometres to the east of the town of Waihi, at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula. The main beach is 10 kilometres long. The town had a permanent population of 2,730 as of June 2021. At the northern end of Waihi Beach, the 145 hectares (360 acres) Orokawa Scenic Reserve offers several short walking tracks along the coast and to Orokawa Bay. While the main beach is backed by the residential area of the township of Waihi Beach, Orokawa Bay is undeveloped and surrounded by native bush including pohutukawa, puriri, and nikau palms. At the southern end of the beach is the small settlement of Bowentown and the northern side of the northern Katikati entrance to Tauranga Harbour.
Waihi beach is a lovely sandy bay. We saw 2 men fishing with long nets from a few metres off the beach, but they did not catch any flounder or snapper which they said was what they were after.
We then drove further on down Highway 25 through KatiKati which is the township with lots of wall art as murals. Often referred to as the Mural Town. This time we didn’t stop as we had seen them before, but we did pay a revisit in 2017 see out HOLIDAY2017 site with pals https://www.holiday2017.co.uk , thanks for looking
We arrived at Tauranga , a very busy city with an oil refinery, harbour and port with many container ships, a real working transport hub for New Zealand. We drove through quickly and on to the wonderful Mount Manganui., which is a volcanic peak and along the beach stretching for miles to Papamoa. There are lots of expensive looking houses and apartments fronting the beach.
We checked into the Top 10 campsite right on the beach at Papamoa. It cost $44 a night (£22) and paid an extra $4 for a beach plot on Ocean drive. Worth every penny, this is our fave campsite in all the world.
Anne put some washing in the machine in the laundry costing $4 and then we both walked to the local shops to buy ice creams as by now it was hot and sunny. Anne hung up washing when we were back and chatted to a couple from Windemere, Cumbria , the Lake District, UK.
Then we took our chairs onto the beach , we also went in the sea to jump the big waves, exhilarating, it is the Pacific Ocean. We sat on the beach and watched the surf club on speedboats and canoes practicing. We then had showers and dinner, it was a lovely day and a lovely place to be and the end of the day.
Tuesday February 19th 2013
Summary, Papamoa Beach to Rotorua
Light rain very briefly. Grass still very dry and brown everywhere as no proper rain for 2 months we were told. There were now some water restrictions in New Zealand as most reservoirs were low or running dry.
Keef did dump station black water and took on fresh water in the van ready for our onward travels today. We drove onto the outskirts of Tauranga which had grown so big from our memories 5 years ago, then onto Matamata and Hobbiton. It is based on the Alexanders farm just outside Matamata.
This is the Hobbit village movie set for the Lord of the Rings (and Hobbit) movies made by Peter Jackson. We had booked our tickets online the previous night $150 for 2 tickets i.e., £75 total in English money.
We got the tour coach from the information centre in Matamata which drove 20 minutes to a local sheep / cattle ranch. The film scouts had searched for a location that matched the description in the Tolkien book and found this farm was ideal. Took 9 months to film and the farmers had to sign a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement so nothing leaked out into the public domain.
The tour guides took us around the village, a lovely setting with a lake, mills, the Green dragon pub, all thatched, and hobbit homes set into the hillsides with quaint little gardens, just so cute.
We saw a big tree up on the green and Bilbo Baggins and Frodo’s house, not inside obviously as those scenes were filmed in Wellington at the studios. It was very interesting to hear about the logistics of filming and creating the set. The tour was about 2 hours long and ended with a free drink in the Green Dragon pub.
A real Wedding had recently been held on the set with the ceremony held under the big tree and all the guests get the option to wear the stick on ears, feet and hands of a hobbit, hilarious.
We returned by coach to the town and had McDonalds and milkshakes as it was now getting late. We then drove to Rotorua which took about 1 hour and camped at the Top 10 site there by the Blue Lake. The price was $41.40. The smell of Sulphur as we drove past Rotorua Lake was most distinctive and what we remembered well from our last trip there.
We shopped at Countdown for supplies, the campsite was fringed by bush and hills but sadly there were no kiwis calling, maybe they don’t like bad egg smells either tee-hee.
Wednesday February 20th 2013
Summary, Rotorua to Gisborne via Whakatane
Shopped at Pak N’ Save Rotorua and Anne went into Spotlight and bought some fabric. We then drove on Highway 30 past 3 lakes and saw someone swimming and schoolgirls canoeing / kayaking. The weather was warm and sunny. We stopped for lunch at Whakatane by the jetty and council offices. There were some heritage buildings in this town. On leaving the town for Ohope we went up a very steep curving hill. Ohope had an inner estuary with people sun bathing on the grass, it was a very hot sunny day.
Some info on Ohope is Ōhope, until 1974 known as Ohope Beach, is a beach settlement in the eastern Bay of Plenty, on the northeast coast of the North Island of New Zealand, six kilometres east and over the hill, from Whakatāne
We then went onto Opotiki, a very long beach with lots of driftwood and tree logs washed up on its shores. We took a photo of a Māori carved totem pole here.
Some info on the town of Ōpōtiki is it is situated exactly on latitude 38° South. The climate is temperate. Summer temperatures reach the mid-20s (Celsius, mid-70s Fahrenheit) on the coast and encourage a continuation of the beach culture of the Bay of Plenty. Winter days are often cloudless, the daytime temperature never drops below freezing but there may be a mild frost at night. Winter snow falls along the crest of the ranges, and on the higher peaks (over 1000 m) may remain for a few weeks. Rain occurs at any season. Severe localised rainstorms ('cloudbursts') may occur in the high country and have caused flash flooding including past inundations of Ōpōtiki township. To give it is full name it is Ōpōtiki-Mai-Tawhiti. Here is a picture taken in 1871 at Opotiki, a very interesting township.
We then turned south along Highway 2 to Gisborne, it was a very twisty road through the Kahikatea Range, a bush trees and forest area. Lots of lorries use this route we discovered, and many were loggers. We stopped for lunch by a picnic area near the big bridge over the gorge and river.
The road then went through a hill farming area and again the grass was very dry and brown. We arrived in Gisborne late afternoon and stayed at the Top 10 site there, costing $32. This site was not as listed 4 stars but, in our opinion, only 2 stars. The facilities were poor and very old fashioned. We went for a walk along to the statue of Captain Cook and young nick who was his cabin boy who spotted landfall in New Zealand and is immortalised in bronze rightly for this.
They landed in Gisborne and a Maori haka made them think they were being attacked so Cook’s crew sadly killed them.
We bought boysenberry ice cream just outside Whakatane and some yummy plum wine from a Liverpool man’s house called White Goose winery, corner of SH30 and Luxton Road. Superb $15 a bottle he had won gold medals for it, he showed us around and even let us try his passionflower fruit that was growing up the side of his house, so scrumptious. Home of Feijoa, Plum and Berry Fruit wines, Whakatane's first boutique winery established in 1983. That’s all for now folks.