On this day in 1985 I left New Zealand.
At the end of July I had been on the road again, this time in a hire car for a few days as I travelled around the Coromandel Peninsular.
As I left Rotorua I visited Mount Tarawera, a volcano that last erupted in 1886, burying a village eight miles away. The village has been excavated with buildings and artefacts on display. There was a lovely bush walk from the village to nearby water falls.
I stopped at Maketu for views along the coast, towards Mount Maunganui along miles of sandy beach. The journey took me through Te Puke, through regions of kiwi fruit and citrus orchards to more stunning beaches, perfect for water sports, surfing as well as swimming. I stopped at Tauranga, a pretty harbour town, then on to Waihi Beach, through the gold mining town of Waihi, on to Paeroa and finally to Thames.
The drive up to Coromandel was beautiful, along a windy coast road, in and out of different bays. The views were magnificent and constantly changing, at some points the road rose up high with views out across the islands, at other times at sea level with the road hugging the land.
The road across to Whitiangi was extremely windy, steep and at times, unsealed, just a dirt track. I met two huge graders on the drive, laying a new surface of stones. Again there was beautiful scenery but this part of my journey was a bit too much like rally driving for me to enjoy it. I was very pleased to get to Whitiangi and spent time strolling around the busy harbour.
The drive down the east coast of the peninsular and back across to Thames was uneventful, then I travelled non-stop back to Auckland, over the harbour bridge for a final few days in my NZ home. I’d enjoyed the freedom of having my own car and being able to travel in my own time and to my own route, as a change from bus journeys.
It rained and rained for those last days. I saw so many rainbows in Auckland. I enjoyed family time again and on the odd sunny afternoon we ventured out to the West Coast beaches of Piha and Bathalls Beach. I went shopping in the city for final gifts and souvenirs, visited the museum on One Tree Hill and went to the cinema a couple of times to watch the films “Witness” with Harrison Ford and “Mask” with Cher.
My six months in New Zealand had come to an end. I’d fallen in love with the country and it’s people. It was an unexpected bonus to my gap year, not part of my original plans at all. I was so glad that I had adapted my plan to spend time here.
I had a final view of Auckland as my flight flew out over the city. Thanks for a wonderful time NZ, see you again sometime I hope.