I live in Christchurch and run a B&B catering for gay and lesbian guests. It is two and a half months since the big shake, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. My house was undamaged, but it was a frightening experience . Many buildings were damaged beyond repair and thousands of chimneys fell. No lives were lost and the city has returned to normal everyday life apart from the massive job of repairing buildings and repairs to the infrastructure
-Bruce Morrison, Christchurch Gaystay
After the earthquake, a holiday in Northland was called for! I met an Australian friend in Auckland and we toured the whole of Northland over a week, enjoying beaches and forest walks.
On the first day we sampled some of the beautiful beaches on the east coast. Uretiti Beach near Waipu is a recognised naturist beach so we complied. It will be a month before the water warms up but we got wet.
We stayed at 88 Lodge in Keri Keri . Geoff and Chris have a house on the outskirts of town with a large garden and swimming pool. Magnificent huge trees make for a peaceful atmosphere and we read and swam before going into town for a meal
The guys were very helpful with recommendations on what to do and where to eat. Their house is spotlessly clean and is beautifully furnished and decorated. (On the day after the Christchurch earthquake they had gone into town to take up a collection for those in Christchurch badly affected by the earthquake.)
Keri Keri is centrally located for exploring Northland and a good place to base yourself. We drove 20km to Paihia and took a trip on the Bay of Islands in a sailing yacht, the Gungha II. We all had a turn at the wheel and trimming the sails. Lunch was provided and there were opportunities for kayaking and swimming. A visit to the house where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and to historic Russell gave us a good look at the area.
We did a trip to Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of NZ. The bus trip includes visits to Kauri forests to see magnificent trees thousands of years old. There are huge sandhills and we used boogie boards to "surf" the sand. Exciting, a little bit scary, but fun.
The peninsula is known as 90 Mile Beach but it is not that long. However the beach is an official highway and so the bus drove at 90km per hour along the beach for 60km. Our last night was just south of Auckland at a farmstay, Highgate Hill Farm.
Lloyd and Mike have a 2000 acre sheep and cattle farm with a few pigs and chickens. Lloyd was an interior designer in London when he met a kiwi farmer. They give you a tour of the farm on quad bikes and cook for you. It is in an isolated area, a wonderful break in the country before returning home.