Explored Napier, a popular tourist destination with a unique concentration of art deco everywhere you looked. An interesting city with a good range of shops and activities.
Lots of vineries to visit in the area but we chose just a few, Mission Estate http://www.missionestate.co.nz/ and Church Road http://www.churchroad.co.nz/ which are situated close to the centre of town. Both offer wine tasting and winery tours and We loved the setting of Mission Estate which is in an old restored seminary and historic tours are held daily. It has a lovely restuarant in the garden beside the water feature, a great place to stop and have lunch. Both have amazing wines and we were excited to hear that most can be easily purchased at good bottle shops in Aussie.
We then headed to Hasting and the Havelock area to visit Black Barn, Te Mata and our favourite Craggy Range. Black Barn winery is an amazing place offering accommodation, concerts and running a farmers market on Saturday mornings during summer. Local produce is vaired and plentiful in this area so if possible organise your holiday to explore on a Saturday http://www.blackbarn.com/ There wines were very enjoyable but not available in Aussie so a few were purchased to be enjoyed once we arrived home.
Driving to Craggy Range Vineyard was an amazing drive. The vineyard is set with Te Mata Peak as its backdrop, simply stunning.
We left Craggy Range and took the beautiful drive along the Tuki Tuki River through farm land to Cape Kidnappers Camp Park. Very basic park but set right on the beach which the girls enjoyed. A surfing haven as we discovered as surfers came out of the woodwork at high tide. We enjoyed the long twilight as we watched the surfers and the surf…….very rough,windy but beautiful.
Today we headed off early to watch the Lady Knox geyser erupt (daily at 10.15am) and learn about the local geothermal landscape and thermal effects on the surrounding land. This happens at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland 20 minutes from Rotorua http://www.geyserland.co.nz/
This amazing place is thousands of years in the making at allows you to explore the geothermal landscapes and witness such amzing sights at the Champagne Pool (clear bubbling pool), naturally coloured pools, mud pools, steaming grounds and huge volcanic craters. The pools were amazing colurs due to the minerals that were in the water. It was an amazing place and one of only 4 areas in the world where you will see a landscape like it.
The park was well set up and very informative making for an enjoyable morning.
Drove on to Taupo, stopping at Huka Falls – torrents of water cascading down from Taupo Lake to a stream before spilling into a wider lake. The amazing force of the water turns the water a beautiful blue colour due to the levels of oxygen in the water.
Drive through Taupo, set around the lake fringed with lake view houses and some lovely cafes and restaurants.
On to Napier, quite steep mountainous drive, nice scenery of New Zealand natural bush and streams with pine plantations and grape vines as you get closer to Napier, which is situated in the Hawke Bay wine district.
Stayed at Kennedy Road Holiday Park, it was a good pick with close proximity to town, shops and it had great facilities for the kids including a jumping pillow, climbing equipment, swings, trampoline, heated pool and bikes for hire.
Rotorua has to be one of my favourite places in the North Island and this is my 3rd time here and we just had to revisit the museum, the Redwood Forest and the Luge and Gondola, a big day.
The museum is set in gorgeous grounds full of roses and parks for the kids to play on.
Take a drive through the grounds to the lake in the centre of town. This is one of 16 lakes in the Rotorua vicinity and provides a number of activities. Check out http://www.rotoruanz.com/ for activities to do in the Rotorua district.
We headed to the Redwood Forest, this amazing forest is full of redwoods and New Zealand native bush. The forest has been sign posted with many running and mountain biking tracks to choose from. Children were given age appropriate questionaires to complete focusing on conservation and appreciation of the park as well as look and find activities which kept their attention as we spent over an hour exploring this amazing place. Great gift shop with a range of souvenirs and the girls handed in their completed activity sheets to receive a certificate and lolly pop. A great way to encourage conservation of the bush.
Off to the Gondola and Luge on the outskirts of town. This is owned by the same people as the Gondola and Luge in Queenstown so we knew what to expect. Lots of fun!!!!!!!! Again, awesome views over Rotorua and the lake on the way up to the top and fast trip to the bottom of the hill before jumping on the chair lift to do it all over again. Heaps of fun for the whole family.
For dinner we attended a Maori cultural show and traditional hungi at Miti Maori Village http://www.mitai.co.nz/ It was set in the bush with Maori locals who entertained us with traditional songs and wardances. We particularly enjoyed the Waka (boat) arrival with its warriors in traditional dress with weapons chanting their songs. The setting was supurb with the natural clear spring and river providing a wonderful back drop complete with glow worms. The meal was great and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening, sharing it with a range of people from over 15 nations world wide.