Finally left Hamilton on Monday, can't say I shed any tears over that haha. Hopped on another naked bus and made my way to Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands, via Auckland. Journey wasn't too bad thanks to my good old iPod! Unfortunately it didn't save me from the pouring rain and howling wind on Monday night as I made my way to the hostel in Paihia. After making some dinner and having a bit of a chat headed to bed hoping the weather is better in the morning!
Waking up on Tuesday can hear the wind and rain still lashing :-( but in the search for food decide that I need to brave it! After visit to the supermarket, rain has eased although still no sunshine! But I decide to make most of it and catch the ferry across the bay to Russell, once known as the Hellhole of the Pacific, sounds charming haha. The half an hour sailing doesn't take me to some God forsaken land but instead to a quaint little village full of old buildings, fishing boats and RAIN!! :-( seeking shelter i make my way to the Russell museum via the seafront thankful that the tide is out so the waves aren't crashing over me. The museum was nice, had a huge replica of Captain Cooks Endevour ship which he used when naming these bays, as well as the history of Russell back to when it was in Maori hands before the European whalers and seatraders turned it into a town of debotchery and then to what it is now! After leaving there went for a walk and saw one of the old missionary homes that had been restored but with the rain still lashing decided to head back to Paihia for a nice warm cuppa! Was an early night on Tuesday as was heading on a 340 mile roundtrip to Cape Reinga the next morning at a 6am start!
Cape Reinga was def worth the early start! Left Paihia around 7am and made our way north stopping at the huge Kauri forest. The Kauri trees are huge with straight, knot free trunks that the Maori's used to use for canoes! After wandering around there continued north until we reached Taipa, where Kupe first arrived in his waka (canoe) and christened the land Aoteroa - Land of the Long White Cloud, now known as NZ. Here we had morning tea watching the waves crash into the shore. Next we headed further up and through Doubtless Bay and on to Motutangi where we had lucnh before finally reaching Cape Reinga!
Cape Reinga is the jumping off point for Maori souls as they head to the afterlife it is also where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide! The Tasman Sea was particuarly wild compared to the calmer Pacific and the waves smashed into each other clearly showing the joining of the two! At the tip of Cape Reinga also stands a lighthouse that flashes every 28 seconds! Looking out here really is like standing at the end of the world as all around is jsut wild sea and ocean with no sign of anyother life at all! It really was spectaular!
After Cape Reinga we headed for 90 Mile Beach (it's actually only 64miles long!!) via sand dunes where we were given boogieboards and climbed to top of the dunes to slide down!! Was great fun although sand did get everywhere as was blowing across dunes smacking you in the face, ouch!! Was good fun then was onto 90 Mile Beach itself! The beach here is an official highway in NZ so all the rules of the road apply although can't ever imagine a traffic jam haha. There was the remains of a car however that did get stuck on the beach, now just the basic skeleton of it was left, so is a dangerous "road". Drove almost 40miles to the bottom of the beach before getting out and going for a dip, by that I mean toes only haha water was freezing!!! Then made our way back to Paihia via the Ancient Kauri Kingdom, where the Kauri trees removed from swamps are transformed into furniture. Arrived back in Paihia just before dark and in time got tea!! Hostel is really quiet tonight as student group moved out today so hardly anyone about!
Woke up to sunshine today!! Woohoooo thankfully as was getting on boat this morning to head out to the Hole in the Rock and see the rest of the Bay of Islands! Made my way to Paihia wharf where place was really busy, which I found strange as never seems to be anyone around! Once we were all on the boat discovered it was so busy as past 4 days the sailing had been cancelled due to the bad weather! Upon leaving Paihia captain wasn't even sure we were even going to make it to the Hole in the Rock! Sailed calmly around all of the Bay dropping off supplis and mail to islanders. But getting out into the Pacific was a different matter and I discovered I'd left my sea legs firmly on dry land this morning so by time made it to the Hole in the Rock all I wanted to do was get back on dryland!! That wish was granted sooner than I thought with a short island stop over (think captain was taking pity on us all) treked to lookout point too and view was great seeing some more of the 120 islands that make up the Bay of Islands. On way back also stopped by where Captain Cook anchored the Endevour and christened the Bay of Islands.
Returned to Paihia around lunchtime, wasn't feeling very hungry however haha. Had a cuppa and managed a sandwich lol before walking around to Waitangi. Was sunny when left hostel but by time made it halfway round the bay the heavens opened and I resembled a drownt rat more than a human being! haha but did decide to continue round to Waitangi treaty grounds and hoped sun would dry out my jeans haha. Wandered the Treaty Grounds, seeing the huge war canoe, takes 98 men alone to safely put the waka in the water, so you can imagine the size!! After that made my way round to the spot where the Treaty was signed a huge flagpole marks the spot flying the NZ, British and Maori flags. Before wandering the restored Treaty House. Had dried out slightly as sun was shining and some more on walk back to Paihia!
Last night in Bay of Islands tonight before heading to Auckland tomorrow. Not heard great thinks about the city or the people (known as JAFA's (just another f**king Aucklander) by there southern neighbours haha) so who knows what Auckland will hold am hoping for good things as is last stop in NZ!!