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Published: February 9th 2016
Thursday December 31 – We woke up to a beautiful beach sunrise and then drove to the Goat Island Marine Reserve. It has amazing snorkeling, but we were there too early to even rent equipment, so we walked around for a while and then carried on north. We stopped at a couple more places as we drove and then in Paihia to get the ferry to Russell in the Bay of Islands. The weather was not great and we were not really impressed with Russell. The best part was that Charles Darwin had been there before. Once we took the ferry back to Paihai, we went to the info site for help finding a place to sleep. It’s really high season at this time and camping is often already booked out. Plus, it is New Year’s Eve. We were told we could sleep in the parking lot of a New World grocery store, and we did get permission at the grocery store to confirm, but we decided to try another place and were so glad we did. We went over to Aroha Island, a small nature preserve island that is connected to the mainland by a causeway. They also had rare
endangered kiwi birds on the island, which was an attraction. We asked if they had room, and they were able to squeeze us in, which was so nice, as it was one of the best places we camped. It was a really windy night, as a storm was heading in, but we were able to go for a walk at night to look for the elusive kiwi. We started around 9:45pm and I was ready to give up at 11:15pm, when all we had seen were several other campers searching for kiwis, but just then is when we saw one! We just saw it from behind, a round ball walking away, but then we heard both a male and a female calling. It was definitely worth it and the best way to end the year and bring in a new one.
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