A Travellerspoint blog

April 2009

Arriving in Auckland and exploring Northland

Jet lag recovery and discovering the north island.

We arrived in Auckland at 6am after a sleepless 14 hour flight during which we somehow missed Monday altogether and lept straight from Sunday to Tuesday!
We then somehow managed to stay awake for the whole day (in order to get onto local time), doing a very good impression of the living dead until we finally crashed out at 8pm!
Our first week in Auckland was spent getting over the jet lag and attempting to formulate a plan for the next 3 months in New Zealand!
On Saturday 18th we made the bold move of buying a 1991 Toyota Corona from a couple of backpackers who were leaving the island - we're hoping it will do another trip around the country for us! Renting and insuring cars is really expensive and so it's a gamble worth taking! Check out 'Sharona the Corona' in all her glory below!
On a rainy Monday we left Auckland and travelled North along the scenic and lush east coast to Whangarei.
On Tuesday we walked along the river flowing from the Whangarei Falls to a state park with a treetop canopy walkway, finding some huge Kauri trees (it seems that big trees have been a main feature of our travels so far!) and great views along the way.
Yesterday we drove out to the Whangarei Heads, electing to climb the imposing Manaia mount. This was no mean feat, taking 2 hours to ascend through thick forest and undergrowth to reach the rock formations at the summit which are steeped in Maori history and legend!
It was well worth the effort, the summit offering amazing panoramic views of gorgeous sweeping coastlines and pretty harbours in the Whangarei area.
Take a look at the photos below and the gallery to get a feel for these excursions!
We're planning on heading north again in the next few days to visit the popular and scenic Bay of Islands, before heading to the tip of the north island to see the 90 Mile Beach!
Let's hope it's sunny!
Take care everyone, missing you all (but not the weather!)
Richard and Lucy.
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Posted by rioandlucy 18:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Sequoia to The Grand Canyon via Las Vegas

From the sublime to the ridiculous and back again!

Hi everyone again!

Apologies for taking so long to do another update, we've been seriously clocking up the miles on our last week in the US to try and cram as much in as possible!

We visited the Sequoia National Park about a week ago, leaving the tranquil shores of Morro Bay behind.

As we climbed the 6,500 feet into the park, the windy roads with snow on the sides hinted that perhaps our attire of shorts and t-shirts may not have been entirely appropriate!
Funnily enough, the sun was warm enough to keep us comfortable as we explored the melting winter wonderland of giant Sequoias, including of course the largest tree in the world - the General Sherman.

Following an overnight stay in a quaint lodge-style motel, we hit the road once more towards the Mojave Desert in order to reach the decadance and indulgence of Las Vegas in Arizona!

We attempted to climb the 700-foot Kelso sand-dune in the Mojave during mid-afternoon as the sun beat down mercilessly - we got about a third of the way there before our water supply became depleted and we were both feeling the pace and the heat! So we contented ourselves with running back down some of the bigger dunes and taking some photos of the area.

We then drove through the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world en-route to Las Vegas, a surreal sight as it approaches after a long drive through a largely featureless and perfectly straight highway in the desert.

Vegas was everything we expected - an assault on the senses as you wander around in awe of the super-casinos with their themed frontages, water-fountain displays and lights piercing into the Arizona night.

We decided to gamble big-time and tried our hand at the one-arm bandits, raising our stake to a whopping 2 dollars and 80 cents at one point before losing it all on the (not so) Happy Days machine in New York New York - it was a dizzying hour and a half of high-rolling gambling madness!!

After a couple of days, the dubious delights of Vegas began to wear a little thin and so we elected to drive to Flagstaff, which would be our base for 2 days in order to visit the Grand Canyon.

Flagstaff is 6,000 feet above sea level and substantially colder than Vegas, so again we got a shock when we got there! Taking plenty of layers, we headed out to explore the Grand Canyon.
We weren't disappointed by the views when we arrived - the Canyon is beautiful and awe-inspiring in equal measure. At some points you can view ridges 45 miles away as it drifts around corners, while the Colorado River can be seen a mile down and the Canyon itself is 18 miles wide in places.
It's hard to comprehend these distances when you look at the Canyon, and so it's best to walk one of the trails in order to view it from different vantage points. Every corner turned offers a different perspective on one of the wonders of the natural world.

The following day, we chose to drive a whopping 501 miles back to the Californian coast, meaning we had 2 days to chill out by the sea before heading to LA International Airport tonight to fly to Auckland - next stop New Zealand!

Hope you're all well and take care for now!

Posted by rioandlucy 12:45 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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