The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

​The Kauri Museum in Matakohe has 4500 square metres of exhibits, including a full size, and furnished kauri boarding house.

Thousands of pieces of kauri gum are displayed, kauri gum was initially used by Maori to light fires, to chew, and as a pigment for tattooing. By the mid 1840’s the gum was being collected and exported to England and America to be used to make high quality varnish. (See the blog post Gumdiggers Park for more information about kauri gum).

Kauri gum was also carved and the museum has a few gum carvings including a bust of a Maori … Read the rest

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

The man who runs Opononi Beach Holiday Park is a no nonsense kind of guy. He knows how he likes things done and he isn’t afraid to tell you. This can include giving specific instructions on how to park your caravan. Fortunately Mike was behind the wheel and he knows what he’s doing, if I was in the driver’s seat I’d be telling a different story.

Once the caravan was parked exactly where the owner wanted it to be, he rode off on his motorbike leaving a trail of awe behind him.

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

While the owner is … Read the rest

Gumdiggers Park near Awanui

I’ve always been curious about gum digging and wondered what the gum was used for. I could have gone to Google but there is no better place to learn about the industry than the Gumdiggers Park near Awanui.

The park is set on an original gum field and preserves the history of the gum digging era. You’ll see the tools and equipment used in gum digging as well as what a typical gumdiggers village would have looked like – sack huts with chimneys that caught fire.

Gumdiggers hut - note the gumboots

Gumdiggers hut – note the gumboots

There are also big holes where the diggers … Read the rest

Karikari Estate – New Zealand’s Northernmost Vineyard & Winery

If it’s a sunny, still day on the Karikari Peninsula near the top of the North Island then it’s a good day to visit Karikari Estate Vineyard. Sitting up high on a hill with flowers spilling down its slopes, Karikari Estate is a beautiful spot for a glass of wine. The Karikari wines on the list included two chardonnays, a rose, and two blended reds – Toa Iti and Hell Hole, all $10 a glass.

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Stunning view from Karikari Estate

Platters are always our choice at wineries and there are two – Artisan ($35) and Antipasti ($65). Seafood dishes, a … Read the rest

13 Unusual Toilets in the North Island

Toilets can be tourist attractions in New Zealand. Every year thousands of vehicles detour to the small Northland town of Kawakawa to see the unusual public toilets designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser  (1928-2000).  Built mostly with recycled materials, the toilets incorporate bricks, bottles, tiles and colourful pottery.

Interior of Kawakawa Public Toilets

Interior of Kawakawa Public Toilets

The toilets are built around a living tree and have a roof top garden, reflecting Hundertwasser’s environmentally considerate approach to architecture.

Hundertwasser designed public toilets in Kawakawa

Hundertwasser designed public toilets in Kawakawa

Hundertwasser didn’t like straight lines or flat floors, I suspect the residents in the Waldspirale apartment complex he … Read the rest

Cheap and chirpy – The Parrot Place, Kerikeri

As soon as I walked through the door at The Parrot Place a friendly chap asked me if I’d like to hold a bird, before I had a chance to reply two hopped on my arm. Mike joked that if anyone should be attracting the birds it should be him, he got his birds a little later.

Cute and friendly birds at The Parrot Place

Cute and friendly birds at The Parrot Place

Mike gets his birds

Mike gets his birds

I loved The Parrot Place – many of the birds are sociable and the aviaries are large and well kept. For only $10 admission per adult and $5 for under 14’s, … Read the rest

Unusual Accommodation – Pagoda Lodge, Kerikeri

Pagoda Lodge was established in the 1930’s by a Scotsman with a passion for collecting Imperial treasures. A number of unusual accommodation options have been added over the years making Pagoda Lodge a unique place to spend the night.

Pagoda Lodge, built in the 1930's

Pagoda Lodge, built in the 1930’s

We were lucky enough to get a tour of the property set in a large, tranquil garden, and alongside a river. There are numerous accommodation options, I have included those that are the most unusual, see Pagoda Lodge website for the full range. We weren’t able to go inside all of the accommodation but the … Read the rest

A legal high in Paihia

Parasailing has been described as adrenalin lite, having done a bungy jump I tend to agree, but with Flying Kiwi Parasail in Paihia you are going to fly incredibly high – up to 1200 feet – NZ’s highest parasail.

Flying high with Flying Kiwi Parasail

Flying high with Flying Kiwi Parasail

And unlike a bungy which is over in a few seconds, you are going to remain at a great height for around 10 minutes. Those minutes can feel like hours when you’re contemplating shouting “Please  Get  Me  Down  From  Here”. Unless your wits have deserted you, and mine came close, you realise shouting is pointless, … Read the rest