Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands is a place most of us would definitely revisit if given the chance. Today we discovered more Kerikeri accommodation options – Paihia Dolphin Encounter and a challenging walk to Haruru Falls. Some cottage stays we’ve experienced, set the standard for all others. If you can imagine being immersed in a beautiful rural setting, you can understand why this cottage is called Peace & Tranquility Cottage.
Its a rare thing to have the use of your own private lake and rowboat. The morning activity of Paradise ducks and graceful black swans create quite a spectacle here. We’re at the tail end of Autumn, yet there is still plenty of colour in the garden. View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.
I’m so impressed with the generosity of the Kerikeri locals. These cottage owners supplied us with freshly laid eggs, Kiwi Fruit and mandarins. I’m always touched when accommodations add special touches to their havens of rest.
We’re very excited by our latest find on the peninsula between the Kerikeri Inlet and Te Puna Inlet. Harakeke Gardens Guesthouse is a self-contained luxury villa owned by artist, Jan Stevenson. Best described as a couples retreat, its a great base for exploring the Bay of Islands. And nothing could be finer than coming back to this special level of style and comfort.
Jan is not afraid of using colour and I think her artwork is very special. What a great base for exploring Kerikeri! View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.
Now just further down the road from Harakeke Gardens Guesthouse is Opito Bay. This is a lovely underpopulated spot to have a picnic lunch and just simply chill for a while.
But time is marching on and we have an appointment with a couple of friendly bottle-nose dolphins.
The journey from the Paihia wharf is fairly uneventful. It’s just simply nice being out on a boat for a while.
Dolphins work to their own schedule and sometimes you won’t get to see any. But when you do, there’s a fluttering of hearts – these boys are big and they’re curious!
There are a number of things to keep in mind. Do avoid touching the dolphins while you’re swimming with them. Bacteria can be passed from your hands. Once you’re in the water, make as much underwater noise as possible. Flap your arms and legs around. These guys love a good time and are attracted to party animals. View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.
Don’t be offended if they don’t hang around for long. We humans can be a boring lot.
Unless you’re a keen diver, chances are you won’t have heard about Tutukaka. In fact, a lot of New Zealanders haven’t visited this pristine paradise We’ve lined up our bucket list. Tutukaka Coast Northland – Diving – Coastal Bush Walks. A drive along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway will take you around the Tutukuku Coast. You probably won’t notice the winding road – the scenery is so spectacular. Even in Autumn, the water is still warm enough to surf in.
On the way in, we stopped at Whale Bay Scenic Reserve to take a short walk. It was a wow moment when we reached the end.
When we proudly announced that we’d done this walk, some of the locals scoffed at us. “That’s not the most beautiful around here” they said! How on earth could you surpass these views?
No photo can really do these scenes justice.
At Tutukaka village we finally got to meet Kate Malcom, owner of Dive Tutukaka. Kate presides over the best diving company in the Southern Hemisphere. Divers from all over the world come here to discover the iconic Poor Knights Islands. Dive Tutukuka offer a wide range of PADI dive courses. No one needs to miss out, as snorkeling is also on offer. The boats are modern and the whole check-in process takes about 15-20 minutes. More details.
Kate is a force of nature. She’s already added ‘Marriage Celebrant’ to her long list of achievements.
Dive Tutukaka has just built a modern B & B Lodge. The area will benefit so much by having this type of boutique accommodation. Lodge 9 is perfectly located right next door to the Dive Tutukaka headquarters. Each of the 6 bedroom suites have an electronic locking system, as do the external doors. You gotta love the stylish organic vibe. There’s a very clever use of recycled timbers. I fell in love with these handmade ceramic cups.
That evening we meet three other guests from the Netherlands and had a great chat over a wine and hors d’oeuvres. Lodge 9 serves a continental breakfast which can be delivered to your room if you like. Or just head downstairs to the communal breakfast table. You’re sure to meet other interesting travellers.
I have to mention a great cafe to have lunch. Schnappa Rock Cafe provided the nicest lunch I can remember. The middle-eastern flavours in my chicken salad were sensational!
It’s time for another walk. There’s always a price to pay for that extra bit of carrot cake. But I might just put my hoodie on and chill out just a wee bit longer.
Kerikeri Farmers market – Makana Chocolate – Boutique Winery. We started our art and foodie explore by visiting the Kerikeri Farmers Market held every Saturday. There’s no better place to mingle with the locals, than at a Farmers Market.
Today, the whole town seemed to be here and it was such a great vibe. Exotic plants, craft liquors, crafts and artwork all took pride of place. I loved these unique Maori flax bags.
And surely these unusual hats would brighten any cloudy day.
The Farmers Market is just across the road from the Makana Chocolate Factory and cafe. How convenient is that! Pop across and have a coffee and something to eat. I personally recommend the Gluten-free chocolate Truffle mousse cake. We took it home for dessert that night and it was divine!
Not everyone likes chocolate (but how could you not?) so ice-cream of every conceivable flavour is also on offer. It’s all here folks, seriously.
It’s a one-stop shopping experience. Of course there’s more to do from than Kerikeri Farmers market – Makana Chocolate – Boutique Winery. But there’s only so much you can fit into just the one day.
In New Zealand, we have a lot of smaller boutique wineries that are producing top quality wines. The owners are very much hands-on and you’ll more than likely meet them face-to-face in the tasting room. Ake Ake produces organic wines and was recently featured in the Lonely Planet 2017. They produce grape varietals, perfect for the Far North’s climate and terroir.
Michael chose a bottle of Port and I chose a delicious Chardonnay. Somehow, meeting the man himself, enhanced the experience. The owner, John Clarke, was such a nice guy. It’s taken John and his partner years of hard graft to produce their award-winning wines. We’re inspired by these people we meet on our travels.
Its been a heck of a long drive today. We’re here to explore Kerikeri Bay of Islands Tropical gardens Waterfall walk plus history. We arrived exhausted at 88 Lodge B & B and walked straight into 7000 sqm of tropical garden. It reminded me parts of northern Queensland. We’re staying in the spacious Majestic suite overlooking a garden paradise. Its bliss.
Over 26 variety of birds are found in this garden. And one of the reasons has to be the beautiful pops of colour on display.
We’re about to discover Kerikeri Bay of Islands Tropical gardens Waterfall walk. The Rainbow Falls walk is suitable for most ages and fitness levels. We started from the historic Stone Store and Mission House in the Kerikeri Basin. We followed the banks of the Kerikeri River up to the Wharepuke and Rainbow Falls.
Native birds such as tui and fantails flitted around us as we hiked through native bush. We even saw a couple of very plump Kereru (native wood pigeon) There are viewing platforms built at different levels at the top of the falls. At certain times of the day a mist surrounds the waterfall to create a rainbow.
We were so intent on getting to the falls that we probably didn’t notice the details. But coming back, we relaxed more and noticed this rather unusual tree. Michael was convinced he could see the head of a dog. I have yet to be convinced.
After the walk, we had a coffee at the Honeybee Cafe in the historical Kerikeri Basin.
Later that evening we had a special wedding anniversary dinner at Food at Wharepuke restaurant. We had a great table surrounded by a tropical garden. The food was full of taste and delicious. It was a memorable evening made special by caring staff.
What a pleasant end to the day! Back to our tropical garden. Sleep will come easy tonight.
Otorohanga North Island – Kawhia Hot Water Beach and the list goes on. The Waikato Region has to be the greenest I’ve ever seen it. We’re here to experience a piece of New Zealand heartland.
We all have ways of measuring luxury. Cottage stays with gorgeous views is one of ours. Its the peace and tranquility and knowing you are the only guests. The hosting at Kamahi Cottage is exceptional. You’ll very quickly discover Liz’s culinary skills at breakfast time. After a long drive, kicking back in this beautiful hammock is such a pleasure.
Kamahi Cottage has a rustic exterior. Even in Autumn, the flowers are still on display. The lavender attracts the gentle honeybees and all is well in my world.
With views like this, the hours pass by without you being aware of it.
The township of Otorohanga is real Kiwiana. There’s no pretension here. However, there is one attraction that Otorohanga is world famous for. Haddad’s Menswear and Womensware shop looks like a scruffy old warehouse. But Karam and John Haddad sell the highest quality Swanndris at ridiculously low prices. Be warned, you won’t be able to leave this shop without buying something. Karam and John were born to sell and there’s no point in resisting them.
Beautiful Kawhia Beach has arguably the best hot water beach found anywhere in New Zealand. And because it is off the beaten track, you won’t be fighting for space. From Waitomo, the drive takes about 1 hour. This is a beautiful scenic drive on winding roads. Make sure you visit at least 2 hours before high tide and no more than 2 hours after. That way, you’ll be able to dig your own hot water spa.
Now that we’re in the Waitomo Caves area, we have to do the Ruakuri Bush walk. This walk incorporates some really beautiful natural features.
The bush is lush with plenty of soft moss growing on the rock face. You can’t resist reaching out to touch.
Be sure to have a torch at the ready if you venture inside the caves. Along the walk, you’ll see the Waitomo Blackwater Company at play. We’ve done this fun activity and its suitable for all age groups. Wet suits are provided and they take good care of you.
So much to see and do. Time to move on out. Onwards to the next adventure.