Bright Sun, Warm Sand, Fresh Fish

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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Islands » Paihia
January 8th 2010
Published: March 5th 2010
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Swimming and enjoying the beach in the Far North
A&A: "Do you know where we can get some fresh fish to grill tonight?"
Phil (manager of the Swiss Motel, where we are staying): "Sure. Would you like to catch it yourself?"

That is what life is like here in Paihia. First, the people are almost scarily friendly. Phil and his wife run this comfy little motel with their adorable terrier, Elle (pronounced "Ellie"). Second, life up north revolves around either the farm or (for tourists like us) the water.

Having already explored the Bay of Island near Paihia, we decided to roadtrip about 2 hours up to Doubtless Bay in the Far North. The weather was perfect - intensely blue skies, warm sun, and a gentle sea breeze.

The further north we go, the more we like it. It seems that there are fewer cars on the road as we head north and fewer tourists like ourselves. We poked around several small towns, the nicest being the small fishing village of Mangonui which was an important whaling town in the late 1800s. Today Mangonui has a famous fish-n-chips shop on its one main street and a quaint harbor with glorious views of the water and the surrounding
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Wonderful day at the beach.
green hills which have several important Maori historic sites.

Further north, we stopped off at secluded Matai Bay which is framed with two crescent-shaped white sand beaches. Adrian went swimming in the chilly (not exactly Arctic but not the Caribbean either) waters and Angelique relaxed in the sun (as much as possible in 85+ Neutrogenia SPF) reading Paul Theroux's "Dark Star Safari". The author writes about his journey overland from Cairo, Egypt to Capetown, South Africa and raises thought-provoking questions about the state of Africa today - and its possible future. An excellent and highly-recommended read.

Today we found yet one more reason to love New Zealand: all of the beaches in the country are public and therefore open to everyone. So you can build an exclusive, snooty resort on the beach but you can't restrict access to the beach itself. What a progressive concept - and one that reflects one of the fundamental Kiwi values: everyone has a right to enjoy the outdoors.

And to fish. In the end, we just bought some snapper at the supermarket and grilled it with a little salt, cayenne pepper and lemon - it was delicious!

Additional photos below
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A waterfall we saw while exploring the north.

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