New Zealand: Lake Mahinapua

This was a campsite we stayed at just south of Hokitika in the South Island which sits next to Lake Mahinapua. The afternoon we arrived the weather was so calm and still and quiet that the surface of the lake was literally like a mirror with not a ripple in sight. We’d never seen anything like it and it was one of the most stunning sights we saw on our trip so thought we’d share a couple of shots, enjoy!

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Ben and Jess :)

Home :)

Our New Zealand adventure has now sadly come to an end…and we’re certainly going to miss views like this..

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We’ve been home for about 2 weeks now but will continue to publish our backlog of New Zealand photos for a little while yet (since we took over 2500 of them we’ve still got a fair few to pick from!) 

We hope you all enjoyed being kept up to date with our wanderings and ramblings as we explored the other side of the world but since we are now settling into the somewhat less nomadic lifestyle of the working world back in England (an entirely different type of adventure), we’ll have to attempt to write some posts of a different theme for a while. Not sure if we’ll be able to pull this off in a way that’s enjoyable for us and at the same time entertaining for you but we’ll give it our best go ;)

It is always a bit of a downer coming home from a holiday or whatever kind of foreign adventure it is you embarked upon but despite that we have to say it was absolutely lovely see our families and be in the much-loved, familiar surroundings of England once more (not to mention sleeping in an actual bed, you know, with a mattress and everything!).

Well that’s about all from us, keeping it short and sweet today, keep your eyes peeled for more photos from New Zealand over the coming weeks and we will speak to you again soon.

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: Feed the birds…

New Zealand is generally quite famous for it’s nature, scenery and wildlife and not least of all due to it’s large number of diverse bird species. We won’t pretend to know what species all of these are but it would be rude to leave any out so maybe you guys might be able to identify one for us! :)

New Zealand Fan Tail

These guys were incredibly confident little birds who would happily swoop down the from the trees and fly in circles around us within arms reach!

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The New Zealand Weka

Often mistaken for Kiwis, these are another, more common, heavyweight flightless bird native to New Zealand. The pictures aren’t so good of this one simply because we came across it in the middle of the night and were trying to get a photo of it as it wandered around our camper!

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Kingfisher 

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Kea

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New Zealand Oyster Catcher

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Gonna need some help with this one!

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Moments away from making a catch!

Wandering Albatross (assuming we heard the boat driver correctly over the noise of the sea and Ben vomiting into a bucket)

What we did hear though was that it had a wing span of about 3 metres!

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Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: Nature’s giants

Kauri trees are native to New Zealand and whilst the majority of the oldest trees were destroyed by settlers from Europe, a few of these giants remain and we just had to take a trip out to Waipoua Forest on the ‘Kauri Coast’ to have a look.

The precise age of these trees is unknown but estimates put them at 2000 – 2500 years old! The first Kauri in these pictures, called ‘The Lord of the Forest’, is the largest measuring at 51.2 metres in height and with a diameter of 4.4 metres. The second, ‘The Father of the Forest’, is shorter but wider with a diameter of 5.2 metres…that’s pretty damn big!

The last tree is actually four separate Kauri trees growing from a shared root which makes for a pretty impressive and unique sight in itself named ‘The Four Sisters’. 

 ‘The Lord of the Forest’

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Can you spot Jess’ head?

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There she is! It’s shocking how small a human looks next to these ancient giants!

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 ‘The Father of the Forest’

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 ‘The Four Sisters’

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We were blown away by the size of these marvels of nature and hope the pictures do them some kind of justice! 

Ben and Jess :) 

New Zealand: Natural bridge and Abbey caves

Waitomo is famous for it’s deep limestone caves, rich with stalactites, stalagmites and glowworms. Taking a guided tour through these caves however cost more than our dwindling budget could stomach so we opted for the nearby free attractions which actually turned out to be quite spectacular in themselves. The most impressive of these was called the natural bridge which was formed when the roof of a large cave collapsed leaving just one small section where the roof remains, creating a deep canyon with a bridge over the top.

It’s quite a difficult thing to describe in words but you can see in the pictures that we were walking along what used to be the cave floor and were looking up at the remaining piece of cave ceiling 50ft above our heads.

Waitomo Natural Bridge

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The stream to the bottom left is the old cave floor and you can see the bridge ahead in the centre.

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Directly underneath the bridge, it is believed the whole length of the canyon was once roofed like this section.

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In Waitomo we also stopped off at another old cave which you could walk a small way down inside and have a look at the stalactites and other rock formations. In was here we also had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing our first cave Weta, at which point we almost decided that we didn’t fancy going into the cave after all but were brave and soldiered on! 

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Cave Weta. Hard to tell from the perspective in the photo but it was about 7cm long not including it’s antenna!

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More stalactites.

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Since we’re on the subject of caves, we also did a small bit of exploring in Abbey Caves in Whangarei (pronounced ‘fong-a-ray’… go figure) which were deeper and longer cave systems than we’d seen before and were therefore signposted as only for people with experience in cave exploration. So we decided not to explore too far into these ones, particularly as the signs warned that water levels rise very quickly inside when it rained, and just took some much safer photos of the entrances. Less exciting we know but we used all our cave-related bravery up on the Weta ;)

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Speak to you again soon,

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: A not so unexpected journey…

Let’s face it, a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without visiting the Hobbiton set from both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. The location couldn’t have been more perfect, nestled out in the rolling hills of the farmland East of Hamilton, complete with a small lake and The Green Dragon Inn where we finished our tour with Hobbiton’s home-brewed beer and cider.

The level of detail throughout the set is incredibly charming, which includes small curtains and flower pots in the windows, washing lines, smoking chimneys, jackets hung outside doors and collections of honey, preserves and smoked fish outside various Hobbit holes. The list of careful and loving details put into the set could go on and on and we’ve no doubt you’ll be able to spot more examples in the photos.

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Bilbo’s house.

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Fake tree on the hill over Bilbo’s house. Each leaf was imported from Taiwan and individually attached to the tree for an authentic look!

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Green Dragon and The Water.

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We loved their tiny letter boxes.

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Famous double arch bridge and the mill.

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Jess enjoying Hobbiton’s own beer.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, speak to you soon, 

Ben and Jess :)  

New Zealand: Don’t go chasing waterfalls…

New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for incredibly beautiful scenery and contributing to that reputation are the impressive selection of gorgeous waterfalls that are dotted throughout the country. These photos aren’t an exhaustive example of New Zealand’s falls but these were our favourites so we hope you enjoy the pictures :)

Huka Falls – Taupo

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Bridal Veil Falls – Hamilton

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Marokopa Falls – Waitomo

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Okere Falls – Rotorua

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Ben and Jess :)