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Published: July 14th 2012
So, after a brief stay in Auckland, we decided to head out of the city and go exploring. Whilst in NZ, we wanted to have very little in the way of plans and so decided to pretty much wing it and see what happened. After looking at several of the billion maps and flyers we seemed to have accumulated, we decided that we would head North up the east coast towards Northland until we eventually got to the tip of the North island. That was our first basic outline of a plan, and after having a pleasant breakfast overlooking the beach in Takapuna, we set off up the east coast.
Not long after we left the Auckland area, the roads started to get smaller and the traffic was almost non-existent. Being here in winter was going to have its pitfalls such as the cold weather and the rain, however as it is out of season, it seems that everywhere we drive, we are the only ones on the road….a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the South American streets and roads we have been used to over the past months. As for the winter weather, we have barely
seen any signs of this yet? Sure it’s a little cold in the evenings and mornings, however since being here, the sun is pretty much always out, and rain has yet to grace us with its presence.
After much deliberation, we had finally settled on getting to the Bay of islands for our first stop, and in particular, the coastal town of Pahia. Making our way up the east coast with hardly a car on the road and singing away to our favourite albums, we were stunned at the scenery. This was only our first drive, and having not heard much about the North we didn’t know what to expect, but already, we were just loving how picturesque it was here. If you’re not driving through peaceful farmland and rolling hills, you are hugging the coastal road and have the beaches right beside you. Because of this, we stopped at numerous lookout points and beaches on the way to check out the vistas, and we were gobsmacked at just how many beautiful stretches of beach and cliffs there were. When we did head down to the beach to take a closer look, we were nearly always the only ones
on these huge stretches of sand where we could just sit and watch the awesome surf rolling in.
So, after our first full days driving, we had finally reached Pahia. It took a little longer than we anticipated due to the small and windy roads, however this is something we will have to get used to, and to be honest, it’s no bad thing…we are hardly in a rush to zip through this beautiful country!
We arrived in the dark at a little place just a short walk from town and met the guy in charge there. He said he had plenty of room for us and if we just turned around up the hill and came back facing the other way, we could pull into one of the many spots that came with electricity. In doing this, I tried to make a three point turn uphill, on the grass. This was not a good idea. Halfway through my manoeuvre, I got stuck, and with a tractor behind me and no way of moving forward, we were well and truly in a bit of a pickle and stuck in the mud….Disaster Mike strikes twice in two days! Thankfully
the owner was like all other Kiwis we had met so far and was totally laid back about the whole affair. After a quick laugh in my direction, he simply moved the tractor so I could roll back on the path downhill. Sweet as Bro, as I believe the saying goes here!
The next day, we decided that there was no point coming to the Bay of Islands if we weren’t going to check some of the islands out on the water, and so we got ourselves on a boat trip. After a brief stop in the charming town of Russell, the boat took us in and around the amazing islands and fortuitously once again, the weather gods were smiling on us as the sun was out! The tour had also promised to see some dolphins along the way, and within half an hour or so, there we were surrounded by two dozen or so of them playing around the boat. This was awesome, however it was when we started to leave their territory that things got really impressive. The dolphins seemed to really enjoy playing in the stream of the boats motors, and looking out the back of
the boat you could see dolphins jumping high into the air like some trick at Sea world or something - except these dolphins are wild and never trained or fed by anyone.
The finale to the boat trip was a ride through the ‘hole in the rock’ which I suppose is pretty self-explanatory really. The hole has been formed due to the sea crashing into and eroding the rock over millions of years, and now you can actually get a boat through it, which really is quite spectacular.
So, after a fantastic day in Pahia and one of the coldest, outdoor showers in winter I have ever had (due to not having any change for the hot water meter) it was time to carry on up North. Before we did this however, we decided to break ourselves in with a little ‘tramp’ (Kiwi word for hike or walk). We did this just outside where the treaty of Waitangi was signed near Pahia, where we walked through some forest, across boardwalks over mangroves and eventually towards a small waterfall. The walk was a flat one by NZ’s standards, but at least it got us out in the open and
into the swing of things.
On the disasters front, I am currently 2 for 2, however I am actually hoping to cut that number significantly over the coming weeks to get to a respectable disaster to day ratio. My mission is set!
Our next destination… Kerikeri.
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