Tom retired in the summer of 2004 after 36 years of teaching. We set off in December to a mega multi-stops trip to Singapore and New Zealand. We almost had to postpone our dream vacation because a couple of months earlier we had suffered through Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. We just managed to put on a new roof and quick coat of house paint before preparing for our big adventure.
We flew 25 hours from Orlando to Singapore and spent Christmas and New Year there with Margaret's parents. We flew to Auckland, New Zealand with Margaret's parents on January 17, 2005 and didn't get back to the States till April !!!
New Zealand is a very scenic country. It is geologically very diverse - North Island is volcanic with geysers and hot springs while South Island has glaciers !!! I will feature below highlights of our driving trip in North Island. The elderly couple you see is my parents - Charlie & Maria
Videos featuring South Island will be hosted on a different page. My father who was 80 started showing travel stress at the end of the driving tour of North Island. South Island is sparsely populated and many areas are remote without medical facilities so we left my parents in Auckland with my sister.
The falls are located about 3 hours north of Auckland. They are not huge being only 26 meters high but it is one of the most picturesque falls we have ever seen. Tom and I trekked down a gravel trail surrounded by native bush to the bottom of the falls where we posed for pictures at a picnic table.
The wind was so strong you could hear it rip. You can also see the white foam on the waves crashing onshore. The waters were clear and a gorgeous turquoise color. It was great walking on the beach feeling the wind and enjoying the solitude.
Ninety Mile Beach
It is one of the most pristine sand beaches in the world stretching out as far as the eye could see - nature at its best, totally untouched by man - just miles upon miles of fine golden sand against the turquoise waters crashing onshore !!! A huge rock outcrop with a large hole made for an interesting backdrop.
Massive Sand Dunes, Ninety Mile Beach
These are possibly the largest sand dunes outside of the deserts. They are formed by the ocean winds blowing the fine beach sand onto the shore and comes right up to the water's edge in places. The more adventurous tourists tried tobageoning down the slopes !!!
Internal Kauri Staircase, Ninety Mile Beach
Tom & I together with our parents climbed a short internal log staircase craved WITHIN the huge trunk of a giant Kuari tree, reputed to be the only internal log staircase in the world !!!
Gorgeous Vistas & Jurassic Parkway
We have never before seen such stunning beach vistas with huge golden-colored sand dunes right up to the edge of the turquoise waters. Made us want to linger around forever. The drive on Jurassic Parkway en route to find a giant Kauri tree was memorable for the strange native vegetation we saw - reminiscent of the movie, Jurassic Park.
My parents, Tom and I will never forget the drive up the Coromandel Peninsula. Not only was the drive scenic but very difficult and dangerous in places. A logging truck almost plowed into us as it came round the blind curve and had to jam on the brakes. I told Tom not to push our luck and we aborted the original plan to drive over the crest of the narrow 2-lane road. We enjoyed many gorgeous vistas en route. Some scenes resembled oil paintings !
It was a beautiful day when Tom and I, together with my parents explored the rocky beach with its impressive blowhole at the base of Mount Maunganui at the southern tip of Tauranga Harbor in the Bay of Plenty. I loved watching the waves smash against the blowhole in the rocks !!!
Yachting in the Bay of Plenty
It was an unforgettable day - Yachting. It was small as far as yachts go but it had 2 decks, 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen galley, TV, fishing rods etc !!! My parents, Tom and I together with our hosts, Joe & Wendy had a wonderful day yachting, "fishing" , having a delicious lunch on board, swimming in the afternoon and going ashore one of the many islets !!!
Fishing - Bay of Plenty
Mom, Tom & I tried our hands at "fishing" while yachting in the Bay of Plenty. It was fun but we were unsuccessful. None of us had the patience needed !
Steering the Yacht
I wouldn't forget my first attempt to steer our yacht. Failing to closely monitor the depth instrument resulted in running the yacht aground !!! Guess I should have waited until we were really out in the open waters. Luckily the us, the tide was coming in fast and we were freed in about
half a hour. Dad, Mom and Tom then took turns at the wheel so we could have our memories immortalized via video.
Joe's yacht had a motorized dinghy and he took Tom and me islet hopping so we could better enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches while Wendy swam in the clear cool waters. Later that afternoon, Wendy and I rowed the dinghy
to further explore the beaches nearby. It was late evening when we finally returned to dock after a fantastic day yachting !!!