Bay of Islands Beckons

Bay of Islands Beckons

Posted on 17. Dec, 2010 by in Blogs

Cape ReingaAfter a couple of days trying to find a car to buy we gave up on that temporarily and hired a car to take us to Bay of Islands! We hired a car for 5 days – his name is Chris! He was only a small boy – but good enough for us! Now that’s the scene set!

First stop, Pickled Parrot in Paihia. Paihia is in the middle of the Bay of Islands and a great base to explore from. We arrived quite late and so didn’t get to see much the first evening, but we did manage to take a walk down to the beach before cooking dinner, Hello Holiday! This is where it begins. After a relaxing evening we set out to explore the area in the morning. First stop was Haruru Falls, my second waterfall in New Zealand. They were much smaller than Bridal Veil Falls but wider, and the sun was shining!

From here on to KeriKeri Farm Hostel…quite honestly my favourite hostel so far! Let me paint a picture…no bunk beds, a gorgeous homely wooden building set in an orange orchard. There was a swimming pool, free range chickens and 2 pigs! (And free wifi!) After a quick pit stop we got ready for our 2.5 hr drive to Cape Reinga.
Cape Reinga is the most northwestern point of the Aupouri Peninsula and the Maori legends say this is where souls depart for the afterlife. It is also where you can see the Tasman and Pacific Seas meet – and you really can tell the difference by the colour of the water. At the tip of Cape Reinga is a lighthouse that is now automated but was the last manned lighthouse to be built. The views are amazing and there’s a lovely sign telling you how far away you are from everywhere – a true way to make you feel you’re on the opposite side of the world to home!

An action packed day followed with sand boarding and a horse trek. We went to Hokianga for our sand boarding instead of 90 Mile Beach, and caught the Hokianga Express over to the sand dunes. What a feeling to be 1 of 4 people to be dropped off and told we’ll be collected in an hour! It was like a little piece of paradise! Despite getting the 11am boat over, the sand was red hot on the way up the dunes, there are no convenient pullies (these should definitely be invented) so the trip to the top involves running as fast as you can up the dune with your board for as long as your feet can stand the heat and then giving in and stopping to dig your feet into the sand in an attempt to cool them down! Short break and off you trot again! The sand at the top was luckily not so hot so there was time to savour the views! I abandoned the sand boarding after a few goes for the sake of my feet and took a wander down along the deserted beach, my footprints were the first on the sand!
The horse trek was in Paihia and for 2 hours we went through the forest and through scattered volcanic rocks. I had expected this to be a highlight but alas I was unable to get more than a walk out of my horse and in all honesty it was 2 hours in the baking sun sat on a horse who simply wanted to follow the one in front and eat grass along the way!

All was not lost for the best was yet to come! We booked on a Bay of Islands cruise, complete with swimming with dolphins (if the opportunity arose)….which it did about 15 minutes into the cruise! I wasn’t banking on it being so early and was a bit worried about how cold the water would be – no wetsuits allowed! So I dutifully followed everyone downstairs, got into my snorkel and flippers and jumped into the boom net! The pleasant surprise was that it wasn’t as cold as I expected! My favourite part was going alongside the dolphins in the boom net at speed – the views were better than in the water when the dolphins seemed to try get as far away from us as possible! After a tour of various islands, meeting the locals who were waiting for their post (including someone with an uncanny likeness to Santa Claus) and feeling suitably jealous that I wasn’t living in one of these remote houses – only for the week of course – we set sail for the Hole in the Rock. After successfully making it to the other side it was time to head back to Paihia. An amazing day over with but memories plentiful!

Whangerei was our final stop before the drive back to Auckland so we visited Whangerei Falls, followed by the Town Basin which was alongside the Marina offering lots of little shops and cafes – nice enough for a walk but I wasn’t tempted by any of the shops. Ok, perhaps I was tempted by the fudge factory but I couldn’t see any fudge being made and it seemed like a simple sweet shop so I was able to leave! Final stop in Whangerei was The Abbey Caves. We didn’t have as much time as we would have needed to explore this area fully, but we did manage to poke our head into a couple – no real exploring took place, safe to say I expected something different to what I got and flip flops were not suitable footwear for investigating caves made up of rocks inside!

Chris had to get back to Auckland the next day because someone else wanted to take him on their adventures, so we made tracks back to the city to find a new trusty steed and continue exploring New Zealand!

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2 Responses to “Bay of Islands Beckons”

  1. Chris - The Aussie Nomad

    25. Dec, 2010

    Awww you named a car after me

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