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Published: January 20th 2018
Firstly my apologies for being so tardy updating this blog and publishing it, New Zealand is such a fab country that we have been busy trying to get our absolute fill of it.
We arrived in Auckland early morning to blistering sunshine and started our long (6hr) drive to Doubtless Bay in the Northland. I wanted to stop off and see the famed Hundertwasser mosaic toilets and have to say I was underwhelmed and don’t know what the hype was about. Kindly; it seems, Liz and Lesley lent us their holiday rain cloud and we drove into a sub tropical storm which rather stunted our plans for the first couple of days. We had booked into a small villa overlooking Cable Bay and had fantastic views for the first half hour and then the storm pulled in and we didn’t see it for another few days! The only thing we could really do was batten down the hatches with a good bottle of wine or two and rest.
Finally, once the storm passed we took a trip up to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman and Pacific meet dramatically. Reinga in Maori means’ under-world’ and it is believed that this
is where the spirits of the dead leave for the journey to Hawaiki. We had also planned to drive on 90 mile beach that day, but due to King tides and the left over storm, our plans were temporarily scuppered. However, we did go sand dune surfing in the Te Paki reserve which was thrilling!
Once the storm had passed, we managed to get some beach time on the nearby KariKari peninsula, that handily had a vineyard (Carrington Estate) which we felt we should sample. The views were fantastic there, although the wine was not NZ’s best and we have certainly drunk nicer since arriving here. Determined to drive on 90 mile beach, we hired some quad bikes in Ahipara and practically had the beach to ourselves!
Moving steadily southwards, we had a date on ‘The Rock’ a converted car ferry which departs from Paihia and cruises overnight in the Bay of Islands. We had great fun meeting fellow travellers, shooting at ‘Steve the evil duck’, fishing for snapper, barbecuing on the back of the boat and for me the ultimate high light was night kayaking and seeing the bioluminescent plankton. Think ‘Life of Pi’ and you’re on
the right lines. It was simply magical seeing the water glow when my kayak blade went in or splashes of colour as fish jumped out of the water or darted away.
We loved Paihia and the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which is one of NZ’s most historical sites. It was great to learn more about the Maori culture and the treaty that was signed in 1840 between the British and over 500 (eventually) Maori chiefs. It’s a beautiful place with a Maori meeting house (Marae), the Treaty House as well as the Maori war canoes (Waka Taua) and looks out over the Bay of Islands.
Perhaps one of the most famous things about the Bay of Islands (all 140 of them) is Motukokako which is an uninhabited island with 160m sheer cliffs on all sides apart from a 16m high hole carved by the sea on the SW side of it. It’s known as the ‘Hole in the Rock’, so as every other tourist that has gone before, we cruised out to the island and sailed through the hole. A small dolphin pod including a calf joined us for the journey which was lovely to see.
hired a V8 trike and rode out to the Hararu Falls and the lookout above Waitangi, it was a great tonic to the crazy heat to be thundering along the NZ roads at up to 100k in the open air... if a little scary. As said before, we both loved Paihia and this is only a brief summary of the fantastic time we had there.
We needed to make our way South, we had a date with a couple of lovely ladies and Monny the dog, so sadly we started the long, long, long drive down to Wellington... did I mention that it was long?
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