Published: January 7th 2012January 6th 2012
After several months with no travel, it was great to get away again - this time to the scenic North Island of New Zealand
. The purpose of our trip was a new year's eve beach wedding at Paraparaumu Beach
, which was a great evening even though the weather forced a change of plans.
We landed in Wellington on a miserable day and drove the scenic route around the bay through the small harbour city. We didn't see much worth stopping for in Wellington, so went straight up to the sleepy seaside town of Paraparaumu
and checked into our nearby accommodation at Raumati Beach
The wedding was at Nga Manu Nature Reserve
in the nearby town of Waikanae
. The nature reserve is on a very picturesque 13 hectares and was full of diverse flora and fauna. We braved the weather to experience a walk around some of it as well as watch the eel feeding show. It was a pretty cool place to have a wedding and we had a massive night at Nga Manu.
With sore heads from the big party the night before, we drove from Raumati to Taupo
on an incredibly wet New Years Day. The
roads through the mountains were great, although the wild weather ensured that not much scenery was observed. The highlight on the way up was a stop at a little town called Bulls
- a town that is more marketing gimmick than any other I have seen. More about Bulls can be read here http://unforgetabull.co.nz/
After an all too brief overnight stop in Taupo, where all we really got to do was sample some Montheiths beers and have a quick look at the lake, we carried on to the Bay of Islands and with minimal stopping managed to drive the 500-odd kilometres in less than 8 hours and arrived in Paihia
in the late afternoon. We stayed at the Blue Pacific Apartments
in Paihia, which were perfectly positioned on the hill overlooking the Bay of Islands and the Waitangi Treaty grounds
(the treaty was signed in 1840 and recognised Maori land ownership and rights - the Kiwis were just a touch ahead of the Aussies in indigenous relations!). The highlight of our accommodation was the huge outdoor area with a BBQ, panoramic views and a spa which got much use over the four days!
We took a four hour
boat trip around the bay to do some swimming with the dolphins. The bottlenose dolphins in the area are supposedly very playful and will swim with humans. However from what I saw it was the case that the three dolphins that we did manage to see were much more interested in swimming away from the humans and kicking back in the wake of the boats. A few short glimpses of fins was about all we got to see, but it was a nice afternoon to be out on the water nevertheless. More amazing was the amount of massive private boats floating around in the Bay of Islands - obviously it's a bit of millionaires playground.
We found a couple of nice restaurants in Paihia, but none better than Only Seafood, which as the name suggests just does seafood, but everything they had was great - massive oysters and mussels. We also had some perfect nights and went to check out the nearby Haruru Falls
, which were not exactly massive but worth checking out.
The next day we went on a much faster jet boat (known as the Mack Attack
) to check out the "hole in the rock" which is a barren island called Piercy Island
. The hole was created over centuries by wind and waves making it one of the most naturally beautiful sites in New Zealand. Just around the corner is the Cape Brett Lighthouse
which is over 100 years old. The Mack Attack is a quick 90 minute ride and whilst they make you wear ridiculous waterproof jackets and sunglasses, the powerboat doesn't get you as wet as I thought it would - but maybe it was just where I was sitting. A touch of very challenging mini golf at the incredibly lame Action World
theme park and we were done with our New Zealand adventure. Four days in Paihia was probably the perfect amount of time, but it certainly helped that we had beautiful weather every day!