Edit Blog Post
Published: December 21st 2006
Sunday 10 December
We left Cambridge and followed the mighty Waikato river north along SH1 until the anal probe otherwise known as the Sky Tower came into view to herald our arrival back into Auckland. Finding our way easily back to Queen Street, we checked back into the Kiwi International and had some lunch before filling the afternoon with the internet and scouting the Backpackers' Car Market in readiness for tomorrow, although we did get some interest at the hostel itself from two Israeli girls.
Simon was up early to take Max over to Joshua Motors for his WOF and we then met up and wandered back to the market to get a spot booked. At this point we weren't feeling too optimistic as the place was very busy and appeared to be a buyers' market. Nevertheless, even with a bit of bias, freshly back from his WOF and with no major problems to report, we felt that he was one of the strongest contenders for a sale. There was no sign of the girls from yesterday, but rather an Israeli couple who farted about a lot but eventually agreed to take him for $3,150. After an
almost tearful farewell, we left the market after a solid day's work and got ourselves a celebratory beer before dinner at Burger Fuel. There was also just enough time to visit the Lee discount store and pick up a nice pair for a bargain $60...having been living in hand-me-downs for the past few months, I am desperate for new clothes!
Having booked our bus north to the Bay of Islands, we had several jobs to get through today. First up, the Australian Embassy back down in the PwC Tower, where we had an hour's wait ahead of us despite arriving there shortly after 9am. Nevertheless, it was worth going - we had been told we would need new visas as a result of our passport theft, but the previous clerk had been economical with the facts and neglected to tell us they would be free of charge with our police report. We left them to collect tomorrow and after depositing the wad of cash from yesterday's sale at the bank, went to Qantas to arrange pick up of our new flight tickets.
The rest of the day was spent browsing the shops and quietly taking stock
as we prepare to don backpacks again tomorrow. After tea we caught 'Casino Royale' at Sky City and both of us thought it was excellent, with some more realistic fighting and less cheesy humour!
This morning we did what we haven't done in a long while - packed up all of our belongings! There was far more than we had realised and it was a struggle lugging it all over to the bus station after collecting our passports and tickets. Our bus north to Paihia took most of the afternoon, but en route we picked up a leaflet advertising an overnight cruise in the Bay of Islands on board The Rock. With features such as fishing and night kayaking we were sold and got ourselves booked on.
We arrived in Paihia and had a quick look around before settling ourselves in front of the hostel TV, right next to a nice big Christmas Tree, just to remind us it's only 12 days to go! Also managed to sell our tent for $50, realising it just isn't feasible to carry it with us.
As we have over a week in the Bay we decided
Alex sand boarding
Before or after she struck bumpy terrain!
there was no rush for today and so just explored Paihia at our leisure, looking around the shops, organising our excursions and picking up some food. We bought ourselves a nice Maori kauri carving of a mask and a few other souvenirs seeing as we've hardly bought that much since we arrived. After lunch we took out the hostel bikes for a short ride and wound up at the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Our evening involved spending some of the beer money allocated from our tent sale and catching some impressive bowling from Monty Panesar in the Third Test. We were ID'd everywhere we went, which we thought was a bit odd.
Another sunny day saw us catching the passenger ferry for a short ride over to Russell, the first European settlement in NZ and still retaining a lot of charm although at one point it was known as 'The Hell-hole of the Pacific' with brothels and drinking establishments galore. After a look in the DOC centre we ventured on some of the short walks, first up to Flagstaff Hill where there were great 360 degree views and the famous flagstaff, comprising the remaining
part of the fifth mast, which was erected after the NZ wars by both Maori and Pakeha.
After another short walk down to Waiohi Bay we found ourselves back on the beach for a few hours relaxing and reading. We then had a quiet evening back at the hostel lamenting England's chances of a test win but enjoying some of the play nevertheless - especially when Hoggard listened to Simon's request to bowl Langer on the first ball of the second innings! Several whoops of delight attracted a few comments from other travellers!
We checked out of our hostel for a change of scenery and made our way over to the nearby village of Haruru Falls by taxi, only having to walk back into town minus our bags to go to Woolworths - where's Max when you need him? It was then yet another afternoon of stressful sunbathing and reading and both of us ended up with a few pink patches, so it's a good job we've bought some factor 30. The sun is much more strong here than anything you get in Europe.
Up bright and early at 6.25am to get ready for our trip up to Cape Reinga, the northenmost point of New Zealand and the departure point for the spirit in Maori legend. We were picked up at half past seven by our guide, who immediately began with some commentary about the local area. Our first stop was the Puketi Kauri forest, where there was a reasonable-sized stand of the enormous trees that once covered northland, the biggest of which was about 40m tall. Unfortunately there is now only 3% of the original forest remaining, although efforts are being made at regeneration. From Puketi we continued north, going past a number of pretty little bays, some of which are formed by flooded volcano craters. At Awanui we stopped for morning tea and then detoured from the highway onto Ninety Mile Beach (which is actually closer to 100km in length). Although we didn't see any wild horses or seals, there were a couple of dead sharks left by fishermen and the remains of one of the many private cars that get destroyed each year when people decide to drive ill-prepared on this 'recreational' highway. Last year two coaches got stuck and had to be removed in bits the next day!
After following the beach for about 80km we drove up the Te Paki quicksand stream and stopped for some sand surfing at the giant dunes. Only one go could be managed due to the mammoth climb to the top and let's just say that Simon was a bit better than me seeing as he made it all the way down. I let go of my board on hitting some bumps and rolled, with no injury but a hell of a lot of sand just about everywhere. Not pleasant!
After the dunes we called at Tapotupotu Bay for lunch and a paddle then drove up to Cape Reinga, where there were glorious views back towards Cape Maria van Diemen, out to the Three Kings Islands and across the today rather subdued washing machine formed by the collision of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. After a good wander around the lighthouse we began to make our way south again, stopping for a browse at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom - the only way kauri can be crafted these days is when it is salvaged from swamps or nineteenth century homes. Concluding with some kumara chips (always!) at the Manganui Fish Shop, we were back at the campsite by 6pm ready for a chilled evening.
Tot: 1.951s; Tpl: 0.054s; cc: 14; qc: 75; dbt: 0.0436s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb