Sunday, 13 November 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016.  We got up, packed the car and headed North to Paihia.  We checked into the Dolphin Motel and then walked down to the wharf.  We took the 1:15 boat cruise out to Hole in the Rock.  It was a beautiful, warm day.  The water was nice and calm, the sun was shining and the temperature was very pleasant.  This is the best weather we have had since Justin and Lana have been here.

We stopped in Kawakawa on the way to see the fancy toilets.  This artist came and designed these toilets using tiles, bottles and glass.  They really are way different than anything else we have ever seen.  It helped to revitalize Kawakawa because people drove off the beaten path to see these toilets and then stopped for lunch, dinner and other things.

Reed and Nada sitting on a bench in Kawakawa that was created by this same artist out of tiles.  This was new since we were here in 2014.

We walked through this walled off artist park with all these different shapes created from tile and glass.  It was interesting and a nice break.

This is where we catch the boat in Paihia to take the Bay of Islands Cruise.  The building to the right is the gift shop, a restaurant and where you get tour information.

The captain cruised through the Bay of Islands and took us right out to Hole in the Rock.  I guess being able to make it through has something to do with the tide.  We were so excited because he said he thought we might make it through this time.

We did go through.  Yeah!  This is our fourth cruise on the Bay of Islands and the first time we have ever got to go through the hole.  It is much bigger than it looks from the outside.

Nada at the front of the boat while we are inside the Hole in the Rock.  He stopped inside the hole for about 10 minutes talking and just letting people look around and enjoy.  It was pretty spectacular.  When we first entered you could feel the current switch directions and move the boat around.

We are still inside the Hole in the Rock.  The people on the top level of the boat  did not look like they were very far from the top of the cave.  We were so excited to finally be able to say we went through the Hole in the Rock!!!

This is the lighthouse right before the rocks that have the Hole in the Rock.  It is a very beautiful scene.  You can see how blue the water was today and sunshine.

We did not see even one dolphin.  We have always seen a lot of dolphins when we have done this cruise before.  We did see these seals out sunning themselves.

Lana, Nada and Justin enjoying the beautiful weather and the sea.

Some of the islands are quite large.  Some have people living on them, some are used for recreational purposes and others are uninhabited.

We got off the boat on Russell Island and walked around.  We had never walked all around the town and residences before.  We came to this really cool graveyard inside the fence of this church.  It is the Oldest Church in New Zealand established in 1836.  There were some very old graves here.

Looking out at the pier on Russell Island.  

This is the Duke of Marlborough the oldest hotel in New Zealand.  There are some very nice old buildings on this island.  We then took the ferry back over to Paihia.

Looking back on Russell as we leave to head back to Paihia.  What a beautiful day we had.  We had a nice dinner at Jimmy Jack's Rib Shack and then went to our motel and played some games and went to bed tired.

On Friday morning September 30, 2016, we had to get up early and catch the bus in the front of our motel at 7:15 a.m. for a day trip up to Cape Reinga.

First stop of the day we stopped at the Manginangina Forest to see some very large Kauri trees.  This is the walkway that New Zealand built when the Queen of England visited and it cost one million dollars.  She walked on it about 50 feet said something about being lovely and went back to her car.  At least the rest of us get to enjoy it now.

Nada, Lana and Justin standing in front of some beautiful Kauri trees  They grow so straight and tall and are pretty magnificent.

It had rained really hard during the night  As we were driving along and the sun started warming up there was this very picturesque mist laying all over the mountains.  It was very beautiful to look at.

Next stop was Taipa Beach where some people had morning tea.  When you go on these tours they stop about every two hours for a bathroom break or a tea break.

These trees were so beautiful and bright red.

We stopped here for lunch of fish and chips.  This lady approached us and asked if we were members.  She is also a member.  We had a nice visit with her.

We stopped here to ride down the sand dunes.  We only took videos so I don't have a picture of any of us coming down the hill on the boogie boards but all of us went down a couple of times and had a lot of fun.

Next stop was Cape Reinga.  We hiked up to the top of the hill and you can see where the lighter water is the Tasman Sea and the darker water, the Pacific Ocean meet.  It is beautiful

Lana, Justin, Nada and Reed with the meeting of the two oceans and the Cape Reinga lighthouse behind us.

Beautiful view of the sand dunes and the northern tip of New Zealand.

Lana, Nada and Justin trying to decide which direction to take!

Leaving the beautiful Cape behind us as we head back to the bus.

This is our tour bus after spending a few minutes driving along 90 Mile Beach.  He said the sand was too soft to drive very far which was a bit disappointing.

The bus driver showing Justin and Lana how to catch clams.  He took a bag home for dinner.  We got back to our motel about 7:30 p.m.  Walked to town and had pizza, salad and ice cream for dinner.  It was another fabulous day in the Bay of Islands.  We have enjoyed visiting all these beautiful places again and showing them to Justin and Lana.  If you ever come to New Zealand there is so much to see.  Everywhere you go is beautiful

Saturday morning, October 1, 2016, we got up, packed the car and headed back to Takapuna.  We drove over to the Waitangi Treaty grounds so they could see them but did not go through the museum.  We then drove a little north to see Haruru Falls.  Another place we had never been before.  It was a pleasant walk and the falls were very nice.  They were about 15 minutes outside of Paihia.

We then started the drive home and next stop was Whangerai Falls.  We did not take the whole hike but these are very pretty falls.  You can hike to the bottom of them but we were running out of time.

We made it to Matakana Market but just barely.  Most of the food places had already shut down so we did not get to eat.  They did get to see some of the stalls and why we enjoy coming here.

We decided to drive over to Omaha Beach.  Right as we got out of the car it started to pour rain and was very windy.  We still walked along the beach.  There were all these very colorful jellyfish all along the beach.

This is a very clean, long beach.  Quite a few people were out jogging.  We walked for about half an hour and then the rain stopped so we just strolled for a while and enjoyed our last day on the beach.  We have found whole sand dollars here before but only pieces of some today.

There must have been some kind of sailing race going on but there was no one around to ask.

We then stopped at Parry's Kauri Park.  This is the McKinney Kauri that is over 800 years old.  You can see how big it is around.  

Reed and I thought we better have our picture taken in front of the McKinney Kauri since we have been here so many times and brought so many different people here.  This has been one of our favorite places to visit.  This is so New Zealand to us.  We had such a wonderful trip and saw so much.  We got home about 6 p.m. and ate a nice dinner and started packing a suitcase full of our things that they are taking home for us.

On Sunday we helped them get packed up and headed to church a little early so we could stop at One Tree Hill.  This is such a great 360 degree view of the downtown Auckland area and all the surround areas.

It is so green right now.  It was cloudy and rainy again.

We had a great day at church and they asked us to share our testimonies again.  This was our final goodbye and it was nice to share our testimonies with Justin and Lana there.  After dinner and as we got ready to head to the airport we took them up on top of Mount Victoria so we could watch the sun go down and have a final look at the Harbor Bridge, Devonport, Hauraki Bay and downtown Auckland.  So beautiful!

We are really going to miss this beautiful view.  Auckland right on the bay will always be a a wonderful memory for us.

Even with the rain and storm clouds it was a great view.  It is hard to say good-bye.

Justin and Lana at the airport.  They had a 10:50 p.m. flight out on Sunday, October 2, 2016.  They have these statutes at the airport of characters from Lord of the Rings.  It says on loan from Middle Earth.

Justin and Lana headed through the departure gate.  We had such a wonderful time with them.  It was hard to say goodbye even knowing that we will be going home in less than two weeks.  They wanted to see everything they could and we went like crazy.  They were such good sports.  We love our family and are so grateful to each of our children who were able to take time out of their very busy lives and come share these wonderful memories with us.

We are so blessed to have had four of our five children and their spouses come to spend time with us.  We have made memories that we will never forget.  We are blessed to serve in such a beautiful land with such wonderful people.  We are grateful that those we serve with have made it possible for us to take some time off of our missionary duties to spend time with our family and be able to learn so much about all the places and things in New Zealand.  Heavenly Father has created such a beautiful world for us to live in.

Until next, time love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


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