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Published: January 9th 2010
So after a successful day yesterday we are up early to make our way slowly to the Bay of Islands, final destination Russell.
We decided to check out the Karikari peninsula and my guide tells me that Maitia Bay is the best destination. It is reached after a short stretch along a gravel road and through a camp site. I must be honest that my husband was not blown away by this cove but I thought it was all picturesque and we went for a short walk along it. Not as dramatic and grand and sweeping as some of the others we have seen may account for the first impression. We had a conversation as we walked actually of how we would rate NZ beaches from the best we have seen so far and had to admit that they are all by themselves really nice but some of them really do take your breath away and if you could would definitely visit again.
We had another quick stop at Coopers Beach with lovely villa's and apartments along the beach and most looked like they had direct beach access. It is probably prettiest in December when all the Pohutukawa trees
are in bloom, NZs Christmas Tree with lovely red flowers.
For lunch we went to Mangonui and what is advertised as New Zealand's best fish and chip shop. I have not been to enough fish and chip shops in New Zealand to comment on that claim as yet but the fish was fresh and tasted absolutely fantastically yummy! While we were around Cape Reinga everyone was recommending it as the place to stop anyway so it seems like a natural part of the plan when you are in that area. For me nothing beats a fish and chips with a cold beer by the water on a sunny day!
After lunch we did an off the main road tourist drive, literally signposted that way as well with the tourist brown signs via Matauri Bay. Very picturesque views along the way and a good excuse to stop for an ice cream and walk along the beach at Matauri Bay. The views are definately worth the drive but not sure about the beach which was more of a camping and swimming spot than somewhere I would choose to spend the day. When there are so many options you start
to get a bit fussy 😊
We decided to stop in Kerikeri to experience a bit of history before finally reaching Russell. A lovely small town but admittedly we really just walked around rather than going inside to see anything.
Russell is a short ferry ride from Paihia by foot or from Opua if you are in a car like us. Driving through Paihia it was heaving with people on and off the beach. It is the cheaper alternative to Russell but Russell is definitely the more picturesque and we were very pleased with our choice. We stayed at Kororareka Lodge which had beautiful views over the bay. Service is friendly as usual and the rooms were comfortable and nice. They also have a gorgeous German shepherd which greets you when you arrive we just had to be careful that we did not run it over! After driving all day my husbands first priority was a cup of tea which you can have sitting outside your room while admiring the view. Then it was a hop skip and jump to finish the day at long beach.
Actually it was not the finish of the day. After showering
and making ourselves look decent we headed into town for a short stroll and then dinner. You get a quick impression of the town and the strand, very quaint with its restaurants and shops along the waterfront. We went to Kamakura restaurant for the ultimate waterfront experience. The food was to die for, we both had the fish, accompanied by great local wine to wash it all down. As usual we were one of the last ones to leave treating ourselves to all the courses down to the cheese board! Service as usual was efficient yet friendly and we both left satisfied with smiles on our faces.
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