Hello from China, 

Time to catchup on more of our adventures! 

We left Buenos Aires on the 21 May 2000 pm and arrived in Auckland, NZ on the 23 May 2000. We seemed to have lost a day flying! The flight landed at 5.30am - a 14 hour flight, but atleast we had emergency exit seats and there was a movie marathon! On arrival we picked up our home for the next 2.5 weeks - the Britz campervan. A pretty daunting experience after a 14 hour flight!! We were hardly given any explanations as to how the gas, water, toilet, shower & electricity worked. Paul got into the drivers seat and felt like he was driving a tank. He was not a happy chappie - driving through Auckland in the rush hour. We drove straight to our first campsite - Northshore (north of Auckland). That day got some essential provisions (a couple of bottles of wine, ketchup.....). For my first experience in a camp site - it was pretty good! 

The next day we drove up North following the Hibiscus highway. It was a beautiful day and we had a couple of lovely walks in Mangawhai Heads and another nature reserve. It was blue skies, sparkling blue ocean and a lovely forest trail. Drove upto Pahia and stopped at a site next to a brew house around 8.00pm (much to Paul's joy!! The food wasn't too bad either). 

The following morning we went on a boat trip to swim with dolphins and go through "hole in the rock". Unfortunately we didn't spot any dolphins as there were killer whales in the bay!! Didn't really want to swim with them as they eat dolphins for breakfast!! We saw about 6 of them close up - it was really cool. After the whale experience went through a hole in the rock - which is exactly what it says - a hole in the rock resulting from erosion of the sea and wind. Stopped for lunch on a deserted island and did a bit of snorkelling - saw nothing!! When we got back on the boat we tried boom netting - not sure how to describe this experience - basically we were dragged along the side of the boat standing in a net, holding on for dear life!! A lot of swearing went on behind me!! When the ride eventually stopped I could hardly uncurl my fingers from the net and walking wasn't too easy either! 

Next morning drove upto ahipara - just south of 90 mile beach. We had a 3 hour adventure along the sand dunes and beach on 4 wheel drive quad bikes. Had some great views from the sand dunes. The ride was over some really treacherous terrain - including huge ditches and a lot of mud. On the way back there was a short downpour - got totally soaked. By the time we returned to the campervan Pauls face looked like he'd had a hard day in the mines!! It was just as well the campervan had a shower - we both washed before driving on. Forgot to mention our guide kept calling Paul Bill - I was convinced he'd spoken to Steve!! Drove to Kohutohu and caught a ferry - by now Paul was an expert in driving the camper!! Got off at Rawene and drove through Northland conservation park passing through Kauri forest - very eerie at night!! Had a short stop to see the oldest Kaurie tree in NZ, through the forest at night!! Quite an impressive sight. Stopped for the night at Warkworth, next door to Sheepworld (only in NZ!!). 

The following day we drove back down to Auckland after a hearty cooked breakfast!(courtesy of Paul). Spent the day in auckland - had a walk in the harbour and saw the Americas Cup Village, went across to Davenport in a ferry and went to Kelly Tarton's underwater world - that was a waste of time!! We then drove straight onto Rotorua (in the fog!). 

The next morning we emptied out shower and toilet waste for the first time!! These are the joys of driving a campervan, along with making your bed every night!! Drove to the Buried Village - this is the site where the pink and white terraces used to exist before a volcano destroyed them. They were supposed to be one of the natural wonders of the world and the pictures were really impressive. Drove onto Whakarwanawa to see the thermal activity for which Rotorua is famous - saw boiling mud pools, silica terraces and steam vents. We then drove around Lake Rotorua and stopped at Rainbow Springs Farm. Saw 1000's of rainbow trout in the stream. We then went to the farmshow and I got the opportunity to feed a lamb. Also saw a sheep being sheered. that evening drove down to Waitomo. 

The following day we had booked a trip to go black water rafting - it began with a 37 meter abseil down into the cave, followed by the flying fox in total darkness (really cool as you could see the glow worms) and going through the underwater stream on inflatable rings. Should have been a ball - but I was absolutely frozen - Paul enjoyed himself!! Had to do serious rock climbing through a waterfall to back to the surface - a real experience! Got back to a hot cup of soup in the cafe and realised I had had my fleece nicked - not happy as we had managed not to lose anything in south America. I guess I had let my guard down!! Drove onto Lake Taupo for the night. 

In the morning I bought another fleece (had the South Island to visit yet and Rotorua had been cold!!).Did a jet boat ride with a few 360 degree turns - were a little bit disappointed after our boat ride in Iguassu. Drove down through Tongario National Park - it was misty so not much of a view.Stopped for the night at Otaki beach and booked the ferry to the South Island. We had really had a great time in the North Island. 

Well folks time for us to stop - not sure when we will get another opportunity to e-mail - not sure what the facilities are like in China. So far we have been pleasantly surprised so you never know. Anyway hope everyone is well. 

Take care, Pip & Paul