travel things

New Zealand: Part IV

This is a long series because I have a lot of pictures and memories from our trip that I want to document. πŸ™‚ So I hope you’re enjoying it! This is the heaviest section, because these first two days were so, so great. Hopefully in this post I will make it through most of the second day (maybe all of it??), and then there will just be one more post after this! Okay, let’s get going! πŸ™‚SONY DSC

As I said in the last post, August 7 was the best day of my life thus far. I am not exaggerating. It was my first full day in New Zealand, my makeup birthday celebration for the worst birthday in my life (I was in tears on one of the many tram rides of the day), I got to do many amazing things with my husband, and it was just a beautiful day. God was really working our trip out. I think I mentioned that I had planned our trip back in college for a school project, and I just couldn’t believe that the trip was coming to fruition! It was truly an unbelievable blessing.

So, that said, with as good a day as August 7 was, August 8 was almost just as good! Looking back, it’s hard for any day of travel to compete with it, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to as many cool places, or taken as pretty pictures all in one day! Regardless of which day was best, I adored our time in the Coromandel on Day 2 of our New Zealand excursion!

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Well, because we enjoyed our time at Cathedral Cove so much, Whit and I both individually decided that we wanted to wake up and go back the next morning for the sunrise! I’m glad we both thought that, because we both hate the morning so much, so it was huge for us to not have to convince the other person to go!

So here’s the story for this morning… it was CUH-RAZY! On Wednesday we spent the whole afternoon on our hike, and by the time we got to our hotel, the office was closed for the evening. That was fine because they had left our key out for us in a drop box. They even left a note with the internet password, so we were able to upload our pictures for the day when we got to the room.

HOWEVER, after we woke up at the crack of dawn and got all ready for our morning, we ran into a bit of a problem: the gate at the entryway of the camping complex was locked! (I don’t remember how we got in the previous night… I think the gate closed after the office did, which is excellent, because we didn’t know it would lock at all, and we could have been out of a place to sleep if we had gotten back after dinner instead of before!) It was bizarre to us that the gate (one of those gates that rises and lowers like at the toll booth… don’t know what they’re called) was not only locked from the outside, but from the inside as well!

Even though we didn’t understand it, and were upset at the situation, that didn’t change the fact that we were locked in, the office not opening until 8am – two and half hours later, and well past the sunrise. There was only a limited amount of daylight, as it was winter and got dark around 5:30pm, so we definitely did NOT want to miss out on extra daylight hours – besides, we were already awake! And we never wake up for the sunrise, so we were absolutely going to figure out how to get out of there!SONY DSC

First, our car was small, so I suggested that we simply drive around the gate. So, it would ruin a few flower beds – we had to get to Cathedral Cove again! Whit did not approve of this plan. Next, we drove around the complex to see if there was someone walking to the bathroom or awake outside of their camper who could tell us the pass-code for the gate. No such luck! Plus, we were losing time. We drove back to the gate to see if there was some way around that we had missed before when the thought popped into my mind, “Let’s just try to guess the gate code!” Sometimes people just use a simple code, so I figured we might as well try. Whit was reluctant, because how were we going to guess a completely random code?!? We weren’t even sure how many numbers it was! It could be four, six, eight, who knows how many numbers! But he gave in because we were desperate.

Would you believe it – WHIT GUESSED THE CODE ON THE FIRST TRY!!!

We had already seen God’s hand of providence and blessing throughout our trip (#1 – finding Wendy’s and wings the first night, #2 – the boat turning around to pick us up after we missed it, #3 – finding an amazing dinner restaurant the previous night, and I forgot to mention we didn’t have to pay for parking leaving the airport, which was another difficulty + surprise), but this was too huge to miss! We celebrated, praised God, and raced to the parking lot at the top of the hiking hill. {By the way, the gate code was 1234. ;)}

SONY DSCBy the time we got through the gate and parked at the lot about ten minutes away, it was already starting to get light outside. We knew we had a 45 minute hike ahead of us, so we had to hustle. I forgot to mention that the previous night when we left the beach, since it was already dark, we had to use Whit’s cell phone to light our path, which was slightly dangerous hah. This was somewhat of the same scenario; we had to use a make-do flashlight for the beginning part of the hike. Note to self: always pack a flashlight when traveling!

We were about halfway there when we realized the sun was going to rise, whether we were on the beach or not. We decided to stop at a lookout point and just wait for it. Then we would run the rest of the way to the beach so we wouldn’t miss the beautiful lighting on the beach (hellooo photo op! It’s once-in-a-lifetime, you can’t compromise that!). I’m not a sunrise expert – haven’t been awake for too many of them – but the view was absolutely stunning! I think you’d agree. πŸ™‚ SONY DSC

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We continued our hike, but couldn’t force ourselves to run the whole way – we had to stop and take a few more pictures!! Update: I’ve decided to break this day’s ventures into two posts, because I have so many pictures to share. Yay!

I was definitely singing the Lord of the Rings theme every time we walked past this tree πŸ™‚SONY DSC

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See what I’m talking about?? The light was killer!! There’s no way we could have missed that. Thank you, Jesus, for getting us through the gate!!

Then, we finally made it down to the beach again! When we arrived, there was only one other guy (photographer) there, and two or three more people arrived shortly after us. It was calm, quiet, and the air was crisp as a warm spring day. The birds were flying around singing, and the ocean waves were rustling as they rolled in.

We were in disbelief that this incredible beach, these stunning views, were only being enjoyed by the few of us! We just couldn’t get over the fact that you don’t have to pay anything to be there, and there’s hardly any people there, whereas hundreds and thousands of people crowd the American beaches for which there is nothing to write home about. It’s not right. I want to be a Kiwi!

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I love seeing places {that I’ve never been to} from lots of different angles to get a better feel for what it was like to actually be there, so I hope you enjoy these. πŸ™‚

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I’m surprised my camera didn’t just give up and break from capturing all of this beauty!

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SONY DSCMy panos kind of sucked due to how bright it was, but I did take a couple that give you a feel for the layout of the beach.

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I finally got with the program and started doing HDR after it got too sunny that my lens was having difficulty capturing the colors.

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Okay! You’ve finally seen my favorite set of pictures in the ever!! YAY!!! I am so happy to finally share these πŸ˜€ But guess what? It’s not over yet. I have more!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ The rest are from our hike back. There were several other coves nearby, not as grandiose, but I figured they would be worth checking out since we were in New Zealand after all. We were on a time crunch to make all of the other things for the rest of the day (with limited daylight, remember), but I convinced Whit to step down to see one more bay.

By the way, when we left the Cathedral Cove beach, we stumbled upon an actual bird of paradise!!! Whit loves watching nature DVDs like Planet Earth, which is one of our favorite pastimes, and I could not believe that we got to see an actual bird of paradise. The little guy had gorgeous large feathers, and was cleaning up his area with a stick, just like we had seen on the show. It was too special to take a picture of, but I will always savor that moment watching this freaking fancy bird just a yard or two away from my face. Another blessing from above!

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See why we had to come here?? SONY DSC

I’m glad we did, even if it was just for a few minutes. Honestly we were only there long enough for Whit to climb to that rocky beach and for me to snap these pictures. SONY DSC

These last few are from the lookout at the top of the trailhead. The beach in the first picture below shows Hahei beach, which is the beach we spent the previous night hanging out on and looking up at the stars. Our hotel was right next to the shore. Whenever possible, I highly recommend seeing new places at night when traveling, so that the next day you can see them in the daylight and be amazed. Especially when in New Zealand. πŸ™‚ SONY DSC

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My favorite picture from the trip: SONY DSC

View Part III here, Part V here, and the whole series here.

6 thoughts on “New Zealand: Part IV

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