North Island Journals

A Kiwi Christmas and New Year

Best of IgoUgo

A December 2005 trip to North Island by Slaney

Debris left from the recent tsunami Photo, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand More Photos
Quote: Christmas and New Year with friends in New Zealand.

A Kiwi Christmas and New Year

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Ducks Photo,
Quote:
The highlight for us was being able to spend 5 weeks in such a beautiful area and having good friends who made this possible.Touring the Coromandel, an area tourists tend to by pass. Driving down unmade roads and discovering small coves and beautiful beaches almost deserted due to the lack of tourists.Driving on almost traffic free roads wherever we went. No traffic jams - even in rush hour!With a total population of 4 million for both North and South Islands, we found it very stress free.A green country with scenic views, quiet beaches and peaceful small towns. Quick Tips: If you have a car, make sure you top the tank up before commencing a journey. Petrol station...Read More

Avalon Motel

Hotel

Avalon Motel Photo, Thames, New Zealand
Quote:
Situated behind a high hedge on the main road, opposite the car sales lot, on the edge of the town, it is part of a budget motel chain and although not 5-star, is very clean.For NZ$95 we got a room with a king size bed, a table and two chairs, a TV and patio doors which opened onto a communal lawn area with garden chairs. There was also kitchen area with fridge, microwave and all the essentials for breakfast making if necessary. The bathroom had shower and wc and there were ample towels. The lady who checked us in was very friendly and the room very clean. Although situated on the main road, we didn’t hear any traffic.I had previously turned down an offer of a room at anot...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Avalon Motel
Jellicoe Crescent (PO Box 539)
Thames
+64 7 868 7755

Peter's Place

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Coromandel Sign Photo, Coromandel, New Zealand
Quote:
Arriving in Whittianga at a busy time of year (the week between Christmas and New Year) we were hoping to find a vacancy. The first motel we approached was full, but had a reserve list of private rooms for rent. A telephone call ascertained there was a room available and we were directed down the road where Peter was waiting at the gate of a small apartment block to show us our room.This was on the ground floor overlooking the garden and consisted of a double bed, wardrobe, table with two chairs, television, etc., and there was a very nice bathroom next door. We were allowed to put the car on the drive in front of the garage. The room, bedding, bathroom and towels were all very clean and we we...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Golden Dragon Restaurant & Takeaway

Restaurant | "Golden Dragon Restaurant & Takeaway"

Golden Dragon Restaurant & Takeaway Photo, Thames, New Zealand
Quote:
Although we found Thames to be very quiet, with hardly anyone on the street, the takeaway of this restaurant was very busy. We can only assume the clients came from the many motels on the approach to Thames.

We decided to eat in and entered through a side door to climb the stairs to the restaurant. The area was vast – there were so many tables, but only one other couple dining.

Monday to Thursday is a la carte, with Friday to Sunday being buffet. For our meal we had two soups, two main courses with rice and two lagers for a total of NZ$56.

The place was clean, the food good (we had more than we could eat) and the service quick and efficient.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Golden Dragon Restaurant & Takeaway
648 Pollen Street
Thames
+64 7 868 8432

Snapper Jack's

Restaurant

Quote:
My husband always has to have fish and chips when at the coast and being in New Zealand was no exception.Situated on the corner of Monk and Albert Street, the main entrance to Snapper Jack's is on the main road and although this restaurant is small it was quite busy. Here we ate delicious fish and chips for NZ$15.90. We were informed later that the fish was Gurned (which we had never come across before). Also on offer was Whitebait on wholemeal toast with salad for NZ$22.50. The restaurant offers juices, sodas, tea and coffee. It is not licensed for the sale of alcohol, but you can bring your own and there is an off license next door. We saw one couple order their meal then go out and ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Snapper Jack's
26 Albert St.
Whitianga
+64 7-866 5482

Matamata (Home of Hobbit Village)

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Town sign Photo, North Island, New Zealand
Quote:
Our youngest son is a Lord of the Rings fan and as it was filmed in New Zealand he asked if we could get photos of the film set for him.We found out that the Hobbit Village is actually situated just outside Matamata. The official sign for the town states “Welcome to Hobbiton” with Matamata underneath it. Visiting the Tourist Information Office we were told the village was situated on a farm to which you have to take a tour bus. The making of the film is explained on the journey and the cost was NZ$50 per person (which we thought expensive). Whilst discussing whether to take the trip we looked at postcards and realised the village was now nothing like it was when the film was made, so we bought...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Teddy Bear Maker

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Teddy Bear Maker"

Teddy Bear Maker Photo, Waikato, New Zealand
Quote:
Tirau is a small town known for its antique shops and very popular with tourists and New Zealanders alike. Here you can meander through the many antique outlets agonising over items with a price tag NZ$2000+ - identical items of “old fashioned” furniture which you couldn’t sell at home and have taken to the dump as a last resort!There is an Information Centre in the shape of a large dog and the Wool Centre housed in the shape of a sheep, as well as craft shops, shops with beautiful housewares, in fact shops to suit every taste. Cafes are also plentiful for that welcome sandwich and coffee and a pleasant day can be spent here. On this visit the Teddy Bear Maker - home of Heatherbelle Be...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Teddy Bear Maker
25 Main Road - Tirau
Waikato

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Waitomo Glow Worm Caves"

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Photo, Waitomo, New Zealand
Quote:
Volcanic action in the Waikato region has made it one of the worlds greenest places and ideal for agriculture, raising dairy cattle, thoroughbred horses and exotic timber.Due to this richness the Maori people did not want to sell the land forcing the Government to confiscate it in the 1860s Waikato Wars. Situated in this region, the Waitomo Glow-worm Caves are one of the natural wonders of New Zealand and a big tourist attraction. For NZ$30 each you are taken through the caves by a guide on foot who explains about the stalactites and stalagmites. One of the caves has wonderful acoustics and we were asked if anyone would like to test them by singing. No-one volunteered so our guide - a Maor...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Caves Road
Waitmo, New Zealand
64 7 878 8227

Dining In and Around Tauranga

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

The Bay at Maketu Photo,
Quote:
Tauranga (pronounced Tow--as in cow--ronga) situated side by side with Mount Maunganui, on the Bay of Plenty, is a seaside resort with ample holiday accommodation. In the name of modernisation and improvement, as homes become vacant developers are buying them to demolish and build apartments on the land. Of course this is good for both the town council (more revenue in rates) and developer alike, but many believe it is taking the character out of the area. Tauranga also has a large harbour popular as a cruise stop and there are many varied places to eat – a few of which are listed below:Gusto, Tauranga - This is one of the many places where people gather for Sunday Brunch and it was very ...Read More

New Zealand Lifestyle

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Debris left from the recent tsunami Photo, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Quote:
After a quick visit to our friends at the beginning of 2005, we were invited back to spend Christmas and New Year with them. Our visit lasted 5 weeks and as our friends are self employed, it involved us helping them in their business (fishing tackle, bait and tools) in the run-up to the holidays. As New Zealand has their main holiday period over Christmas and New Year, which is the summer time, trade was very brisk as customers were stocking up for their fishing trips.I helped in the office and my husband helped with deliveries until he knew his way around the customers, when I went with him and we saw a little of the surrounding area. This meant we were visiting places in the Bay of Plenty wh...Read More

The Coromandel

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Captain Cook's Landing Photo,
Quote:
We were on a journey round the Coromandel Peninsular – an area largely missed by tourists, who when visiting the North Island tend to go further north to the Bay of Islands. Our journey would take us up the east coast, across the north part of the peninsula and down the west coast. Having previously visited Tairua, the rest of the journey was new territory and our first nights stop would be Whittianga which gave us time to take the trip slowly, looking at everywhere we thought would be interesting. Leaving Tauranga at 9am we were ready for morning coffee by the time we reached twin harbour towns Tairua and Pauanui. The area is very pretty, Tairua having one main road with cafes, restaur...Read More

Trip to Lake Taupo

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Blue Lake Photo,
Quote:
When friends lent us a car we could explore on our own and our first trip was to Lake Taupo via Rotarua and the Huka Falls.As we entered Rotarua we could smell the hot springs which throw steam up from the pavements and gardens. Lake Rotarua is the largest in the district with windsurfing, kayaking and fishing for trout being allowed. Moaoia Island is in the centre of the lake, has walking tracks and can be reached by boat. We followed the sign to the geyser park (Whakarewarewa), where boiling mud and erupting geysers can be seen and where the Maori Tribe displaced by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886 now live, but then noticed a sign going off to the “Buried Village” so we decided to detour...Read More

Wildlife

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

One of two unknown bird species Photo, North Conway, New Hampshire
Quote:
The north island of New Zealand does not seem to have much wildlife – other than birds which are plentiful and very varied. We saw lots of cormorants, kingfishers, herons and hawks, many wading birds as well as a few species unknown to us, on our travels. The Kiwi – New Zealand’s national bird – is on the point of becoming extinct and is protected. It lives in scrub and native grasslands, is a very shy bird, semi-nocturnal, flightless and the size of a domestic fowl, weighing between 3-9 lbs. It has no tail, 2” virtually useless wings, and long slender bill which has two nostrils at the top. It also has very sharp three toed feet which can kick and slash an enemy and can outrun a human. Many N...Read More