(Sorry, this one is out of sequence - took a while to get all the photos in that I wanted to post, so I'm just leaving it out of sequence.)
Our day began with a dip in the hot pools at our holiday park – a quick refill of the caravan’s water tank, so we can freedom camp – a photo shoot of the lovely murals around the hot pools – and then we were off. (I’m adding one photo of each mural, plus details, for all my art and bird watching friends – anyone who is interested, click on the photo and enlarge. Anyone not interested, just skip the myriad photos.)
We spent a little time in the town of Waihi, then headed east along the northern coast of central North Island. We stopped in the town of Katikati (katty-katty), which bills itself as Mural Town – and yes, they have murals all over the town. (Yes, photos below.) And the dark blue bird with the reddish comb on his head is a pukeko – we see them all over the place. They’re more common than kiwi birds!
Our destination today was Mt. Maunganui Beach – lovely long white sand beach peninsula, backed by dunes, with an extinct (we presume) volcano at the west end of the beach, and various rocky outcroppings along the beach – one looks like a tombolo, but we can’t tell if the lowest point truly is hidden at high tide, so we think it’s a faux tombolo. The Bay of Plenty and the Pacific Ocean is to the northeast, and Tauranga Harbour is to the southwest – so we’re on a very long and narrow peninsula with the volcano as the end of the exclamation point.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful beach with a boardwalk on the streetside of the dunes – we walked around, checked out the volcano, chatted with people, found a great storm drain cover, and found a place where we’ll freedom camp. Freedom camping is prohibited along the beachfront, but people recommended the side streets around the public restroom – so we plan to head back there.
Right now we’re in the neighboring town of Tauranga. The central business district (CBD is New Zealandish) has free wifi – 24 Mb every 24 hours. (Why don’t we do that all over the USA???) So we’re relaxing with some coffee (well, a decaf latte for me) and catching up with our family and friends.