On top of the world! (Or at least on top of Kitekite Falls)

I must say, there are some impressive waterfalls around in New Zealand. And what keeps surprising me is that there are so many close to us!

On Sunday we decided to explore Kitekite Falls in Waitakere Ranges. This is actually very close to Piha as well, and as I’ve said before (and I don’t want to say it too many times! πŸ˜‚) the drive there is stunning (ok so I said it).

What is really cool about this place is that you can actually go all the way to the top of the waterfalls, which offers some incredible views. There is about a 20 min walk from the car park to the bottom of the falls, and then another 15-20min (uphill, obviously πŸ˜‰) to get to the top. You feel on top of the world!

The water is so clear in some places!

Sadly, the forest surrounding Kitekite falls is dying from kauri dieback disease, and you have to wash your shoes and other equipment before you enter and when you come back out. The track to Kitekite Falls will close on 1st May to prevent the disease from spreading further, I’m not sure how long for…

If you decide visit before then, be mindful and wash your shoes properly and stay on the tracks!

Bird watching! (Muriwai Beach & the gannet colony)

Only about an hour west of Auckland (not too far from Piha) is Muriwai Beach with its gannet colony.

About 1200 pairs of gannets nest at Muriwai Beach from August to March before flying over to Australia. The birds have only one life partner, and although they spend the winter apart from each other they return to this spot to find each other again each year. Naaaaaaw. ❀️

Apart from bird watching, Muriwai also offers some stunning landscapes and beaches with VERY black sand! The water is very rough and it’s quite windy (which is why the gannets love it so much), and you get to see some crazy waves when you’re there. Ideal for surfing, but be careful when you swim!

It’s definitely worth a visit. ☺️

The journey is just as important as the destination (Coromandel Peninsula)

The beautiful thing about exploring a new country is that you can just wake up on a Saturday morning and go “where should we go today?”

And as I had read so many good things about Coromandel Peninsula and especially Cathedral Cove and the Hot Water Beach we decided to go and check it out!

We set the GPS for Coromandel and drove off.

The scenery on the way was absolutely breathtaking. This country is so full of beautiful nature that it’s crazy! It’s about 2,5 hours drive from Auckland.

There are lookout points along the way, and we stopped a couple of times. I also tried to take a few photos from the car which always fails! πŸ˜‚

Drive to Coromandel Peninsula TravelchickNZ
Sooooo pretty! 😍

We finally got to Coromandel only to realise that… it’s a very cute little town, however Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach is actually on the other side of the peninsula…

Coromandel TravelchickNZ
Coromandel Town

So we had to jump back in the car and drive for another 1,5 hours (it says one hour and nine minutes on the screenshot below, however it was more like 1,5).Once again, the nature on this drive was amazing. Unpaved roads – yes! And they were soooo narrow, and full of sharp turns. It was crazy. It felt like being on a rollercoaster! We finally arrived at Cathedral Cove, and there is a Visitor parking where you have to park. There are plenty of signs saying that there is no parking available closer to the cove, so… you have to walk. There is a shuttle bus going for $5 for an adult, but we thought that it can’t be that far?! It is however a decent 20 minute walk from the car park, and mainly uphill. Then you get to the end of the paved road, and you get on to a smaller trail that leads you down to the beaches and caves.

Cathedral Cove TravelchickNZ
View from the trail

There is a lot of uphill and then downhill, and up and down again. Quite challenging if you’re not used to it (and if you just want to GET THERE! Like we did). On a sign in the beginning of the trail it says that Cathedral Cove is 45 min on foot, however we walked it in 25 min, but we walk fairly quickly. There are options to take a water taxi, boat cruises or hire kayaks to get there as well, and we will check out those options next time we go there.

Anyway. After walking along the trail you all of a sudden reach the beach and… It is paradise. You come down to a small, secluded beach that is just gorgeous. There were quite a few tourists there, however it was on a Saturday so maybe that’s why. We’re going back in a couple of weeks with a friend of ours who is visiting, so we’ll see if there are less people then. Anyway – the cove is on your left, and as you walk through, another piece of paradise appears before you. It is so incredibly picturesque. The water is blue and green, the sky is blue, the sand is soft, the rocks are white (ish!)… How many photos can one person take in a day? πŸ˜‚

The waves were quite high however and the water quite wild, so be careful if you go swimming!

The walk back was less challenging than the walk there, because it was less uphill. It took us 50 min from the beach to get back to the car (and I can feel it in my legs today! πŸ˜€)

As we got a bit delayed we didn’t get a chance to visit Hot Water Beach, however we will go there next time in a couple of weeks so stay tuned for that blog post. ☺️

As we drove back we got to watch the most beautiful sunset as well. What an amazing day! I can’t wait to go back! ❀️

Hidden gem in Auckland

If you are like me, you loooove finding little hidden gems in new cities that you visit, or even in the city where you live!

And when you do find them, you almost don’t want t write about them because they are so special, and you want them to stay that way… however. As I love sharing my experiences so that other people can experience them too, here is a little something that we found the other day.. ☺️

Hamilton Beach Reserve is a small, private and secluded beach in Herne Bay in Auckland. The water is warm and clean (a bit of sea weed on the ocean floor though but not the nasty kind!), you have a great view of the harbor bridge if you walk out in the water a little bit and there is a hammoc (!!!) hanging in the trees at the beach overlooking the water. This is absolutely bliss if you want to get away from the city life for a bit!

But pssst… don’t tell anyone πŸ˜‰

Auckland Lantern Festival 2018 (#LanternAKL18)

In case you have missed it, the Auckland Lantern Festival is on at the moment at Auckland Domain, celebrating the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog.

It started on Thursday and ends tonight, so if you want to check it out you better be quick! But what’s better to do on a Sunday night, but looking at pretty lanterns?! That’s right. So head over there now, and tonight only (Sunday) they also have a firework display on at 10pm.

Do:

Check out the cool lanterns, food stalls and performances or maybe even check out the entertainment area with a rock climbing wall and competitions (if you brought the kids)? They expected 150-200.000 people to visit over the four days, so be prepared that it can be quite crowded.

Don’t:

Take your car there! The traffic is horrendous and it took us a good 45 minutes to go a couple of kilometers. In the end we had to park almost two kms from the entrance anyway because we couldn’t find a closer spot to park, so the car was more of a hassle than anything else.

And remember, have fun! πŸ˜ƒ