Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Heather and Bryan came to visit us and we were so thrilled to show them the beauties of New Zealand's Northland! They could only stay a week, so we made the most of every day. Thank goodness for Heather's Selfie Stick! 

We told the people we visit weekly that we would be gone and they were happy our kids had come and said would survive a week without us. Haha, we didn't know if we could survive a week without them! 

Heather and Bryan  got off the plane rested from lots of sleep on their 25 hour trip, so after dinner, while there was still some daylight, we took them to One Tree Hill for a 360 view of the city. It is always a beautiful view!

We also wowed them at our favorite fig tree, which is impossible to keep from climbing on (if you're under 30).

We had an early start the next morning to be on time for our 6 hour sailing trip at the Bay of Islands about 4 hours from Auckland. The weather was perfect, with just enough cloud cover to keep it cool. Heather and Bryan got a little sunburned because of their "winter white" skin, and I left the sunscreen in the car. My bad!

There were only 8 total passengers on the ship and plenty of room to get comfortable on the many bean bags on deck.  It was smoothe sailing to an island where we docked for two hours.

Along the way we saw lots of dolphins frolicking and jumping out of the water. What a fun sight to see, and as they swam under the ship, Heather got a great picture of one.

We enjoyed two hours relaxing, kayaking, and hiking on this little island. Craig was happy for a little nap, being tired from the early morning driving. After lunch, prepared for us by the one man, one woman crew, we sailed back to Russell and caught the car ferry to our hotel in Paihia. We had a restful night at the Aloha Motel, which surprised us at how nice it was! 

Up the next day, we traveled a short distance to this glow-worm cave. There were lots of interesting formations in the cave, but the glow worms are the main attraction and something unique to NZ. With it totally dark in the cave, we could see many colonies of these worms attached to the ceiling. They give off a glow at the end of their bodies to attract bugs that get caught in their "threads". Loved it!

No photos allowed in the cave but we got a group shot before entering. The cave is owned, maintained and tours are given by the Maori tribe owners. 

One thing never lacking in NZ in any public place is bathroom, or as they say, "toilet". This toilet is a popular tourist stop in Kawakawa, called the Hundertwasser Toilets. Just an unusual creation by a man with that name. We love that they are most always very clean, well maintained, and well stocked with toilet paper. There is usually never a need to find facilities at a random McDonald's.
We enjoyed showing Heather and Bryan four different waterfalls. We love looking for and hiking to many waterfalls in our area. Most of them are right by the road.  This is Whangarei Falls within Whangarei's city limits. 

This is Haruru Falls outside of Paihia.

This is one of our new favorites, Rainbow Falls, close to Kerikeri.

We love Kitekite Falls, but it is an up and downhill strenuous hike, not loved by many. I love the many tiers of the falls. 

Heather found the Parrot Place online and we thought it would be fun to see it. A man had a bird collection that went out of control so he opened it to the public. We spent an hour feeding, scratching, and talking to lots of different parrots. They are not native to NZ, but come from many other countries. 

They loved nibbling my earrings, necklace, and even my missionary name tag. We aren't sure how much tourist traffic they get at this place, but it was really a fun experience to do once!

Our next stop for the night was the KariKari Peninsula, one of our favorite, out of the way places. This is Matai Bay, and there was only one other couple there on the beach.

Even though it was late in the day, Heather and Bryan got in their bathing suits and attempted body surfing. The water was warm enough and no fear of riptides in this beautiful bay. 

We spent the night at the Peppers Carrington golf resort. It is a beautiful place, but also the ONLY place closeby, unless we rented a beach house, or "bach" as they are called. Craig and I stayed here last July for our 40th Anniversay, so that is how we came to know this peninsula. 

It is popular to come to the top of NZ, and worth the drive once, but we were happy to come again to bring Heather and Bryan. Lots of buses make the trip with tourists and it is a magnificent site. The Pacific and Tasman seas come together, and there are great views of beaches, cliffs, and ocean. 

The lighthouse is a nice reminder of times passed when it was needed, but is mostly decoration now. 
It was crazy windy that day, but somehow Heather never lost her cute hat! We had a lot of laughs and a good time driving, taking pictures and eating ice cream!

 Loved being here with these two cuties!

Heather always makes us laugh!

4-wheel drive is recommended for driving on the 90 Mile Beach, and since we don't have a car like that, we only drove a tiny bit on the beach. It would've been terrible to be stuck in the sand. 

It was low tide and the waves broke clear out. We had more to see, so we didn't spend much time at this beach.

Heading home towards Auckland, we drove many winding roads through forests to show Heather and Bryan "Tane Mahuta", the giant Kauri tree in the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Though not as big as some of the redwoods in the U.S., it is still a 2000 year old tree and pretty amazing! I think Heather and Bryan have a greater appreciation for the straight roads and highways in America. Even in the city here, roads rarely run straight. 

Sunday was a nice break going to church, having a great meal at a member's home, and taking a Sunday nap! It was so nice introducing Heather and Bryan to the great members of the Waterlea Park Ward. Heather said she wasn't prepared for how nice everyone was! I told her that is the norm! 
We love our ward and all the members! 

About 4:00 Sunday we drove over to Devonport for a great view of the cityskyline. 

We drove in downrown Auckland and wound up at Mission Bay and this little park/garden/memorial. 

With the President's permission, Monday we took the kids out of our mission down to Rotorua. This is a city on a huge lake with so much to do here. We had been before and did an evening Maori show, but bad weather kept us from doing much more. This day, the weather was cloudy, but warm and not much rain. We were excited to do this Luge ride.

This is a cement track and we rode the carts down the road speeding, breaking, and trying not to roll. We did it 5 times, and it was very fun. Craig took the lead every time with Bryan close behind. I was the conservative, pokey one at the back most of the way. We were happy Heather took pictures and even got a little video of us. 

After each luge ride down the hill we rode the chairlift back up. It was so lush and pretty seeing the ferns and redwood trees below us, with the Rotorua Lake in the background. 

In 1901, groves of redwoods were planted in this area. Most of them have been used for lumber, but this one forest is still here. These trees stand so straight and tall with no undergrowth, and we got some great photos.

Redwoods on the west coast of the U.S. Are much bigger, but this forest was a highlight of our trip to Rotorua. Thank you Heather for suggesting it!

Not wanting to miss anything, and with 1/2 hour to spare before closing time, Heather and Bryan went "zorbing"! They had a blast with this, even though it only lasted about 2 min. to zigzag down the hill. 
The ball had warm water in it and they sloshed around at the bottom of the ball going down the track. A hot tub waited for them at the bottom. I was the photographer and Craig waited in the car. 

We made a quick stop in Hamilton to see the Temple, which was lovely, and then found some dinner before driving home. More ideal would have been to stay the night in Rotorua, but Bryan had an early flight home the next day.  Zoom here, zoom there, and then the days are over!

One more beach to show Heather at Piha, and then a hike to Kitekite Falls. This is a must see beach and Heather wasn't disappointed. It got a little too windy, but the warm weather helped. With the low tide, we were able to wander through a cave and along part of the shore I had never been to before. 

This blog post isn't meant to make everyone feel bad if they can't come here, but hopefully, shows you the beauty of this place. Spending this short time with Heather and Bryan was such a treat, and we loved every minute. Craig was an amazing driver, winding over hill and dale on these narrow roads, never complaining! He is a gem! 

No sooner had Heather and Bryan come, and they were gone again. Sometimes I think that will be the same for Craig and I. The time is slipping by so fast and we will miss all these places and the wonderful people! After the kids left, we had a few days to get back into our "missionary groove" before Good Friday and Easter weekend came along. Many members are with family or out of town. Next week will be more productive for sure.  

We hope you all have a wonderful Easter with family and attending church. We are so thankful for the blessings of the Atonement and the amazing sacrifice for us from Jesus Christ! We love Him, are happy serving Him and can't talk enough about His love for all of us! Thank you you also, for your love and prayers. Pray for all the missionaries, especially the ones in harms way! We know they are receiving the Lords special care! 

Love always,
Elder and Sister Martin


  1. What a fun week with Heather and Bryan! You certainly saw lots of wonderful places. Great memories.

  2. Wow...An extreme week....but always beautiful. The scenery was nice too. Enjoyed a second trip (sort of) Happy Easter to you both.

    JB and RaNae