This site last updated on  16-Oct-2003
We arrived in North Island after some of the heaviest rain for some time, 300 mm in 24 hours. We discovered the effect when driving through Paekakariki, where Highway 1 had been closed by a massive mud slide. It was headline news in NZ. As a result, our day was also washed out, since it took some time to get to Wanganui.
Next day in Wanganui, though the rain had stopped, it had been heavy overnight, and the river was very full, carrying down whole trees!. Our trip to Mt Taranaki was spoilt, because the cloud cover even covered the base of the mountain, and driving up to the snow fields in heavy rain, then some snow, we still could not see the mountain, so we headed for the Waitomo Glow Worm caves, where we had a walk in some lovely countryside, despite the storm damage!
At last the sun shone, so we headed to Taupo to get this classic view of Mt Ruapehu, then headed for the Waimangu Volcanic valley, formed between 1885 and 1904 with a volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera, and the commencement of some violent Geothermal activity. We followed a hot river coming from the lake, and saw a small but beautifully formed geyser! Also some orange terraces and some white terraces were being formed. We walked all the way to Lake Rotomahana, which also blew up in the 1885 eruption. You can see Mt Tarawera in the background. For forms sake, I was there too!
We booked a trip up to the Tarawera crater, following a recommendation. You got stunning views over to Mt Ruapehu, and in the other direction over the Bay of Plenty. We walked down into the crater, sliding down a rock scree. Stopped for a rest, and for me to pose, then walked back out, which was quite tiring, but very well worth it. After that, we headed north to the Bay of Islands.

We stayed in Pahia, and though the weather was not great, it was fine for Dolphin watching. The trip also took us out to the amazing "Hole in the Rock", which the boat went right through. We then went to this beautiful beach for lunch, where the sea was clear and blue, despite the grey skies. We went to the "Black Rocks", which are hexagonal columns like the Giants Causeway in Ireland. The Dolphin pod we saw had young, so we were unable to swim with them, but it was lovely just watching them, despite a cool wind.

The final day of the tour dawned to heavy rain and high winds, so after a very slow start, we headed off to 90 mile beach via this brown looking harbour, where the weather became lovely and sunny. The beach is enormous, looking South, you can see the end, but looking North, the end disappears! They drive coaches along the full 90 mile length. The tracks resulted in a good picture, and here's Bob to add some scale to the place
Our final full day in New Zealand resulted in a 2 hour trip on an America's Cup challenge yacht, NZL40. We had an opportunity to work the "coffee grinders" for trimming the sails, and also both Bob and I were able to helm for a short while. It is a very responsive boat, and extremely light on the helm. We got some great views of Auckland from the harbour.