Hey guys! Sorry for giving you another long drought of bloggage goss :) We have been away from civilisation in what could certainly not be described as a drought! We still have to tell you about New Zealand before we get onto our Oz antics..
We arrived in Auckland with no accommodation booked and only a rough idea that the Bay of Islands (a collection of 144 islands off the Northern tip of the North island, NZ) would be a good place for a chillax in the summer. At the airport, we booked our coach to Paihia and then made our way to our hostel in Auckland for one nights stay. We were immediately drawn to the free spa on the roof of our 7 storey hostel. Unfortunately for us, so were the eyes of the builders on the neighboring building. After a lovely soak, it was time to get out. We waited for the builders to be distracted. Zoe made it successfully. But now their attention was drawn again and Ange had a timely wait. Three hours after landing, we were on a day trip to see the sights that Auckland had to offer. We went to Devonport and climbed a "mountain", walked under the Harbour Bridge which you could bungee off (we've decided to save our bungee for a higher one :) ) and ate fish and chips on the beach (unsuccessfully - the rain had followed us from LA to NZ and even managed to find us on the coach where we tried to take shelter!).
After an early start the next day and by the end of a 4 hour coach journey to Paihia, our chillax break had become jam packed full of activities. We dumped our bags (now nicknamed bertie and billie) and immediately set off for a 7km trek (each way!!) through Mangroves and lush greenery to Haruru falls (a not so giant waterfall). We were due to catch a boat for an overnight cruise - 'The Rock' and being pushed for time, we decided to take the shorter route back, via the road. With our walk almost complete, we saw a broken down car on the other side of the road. The driver was outside the car and seemed to be throwing a mini tantrum. He then proceeded to walk back round to the drivers seat and instead of getting back in, he started to throw things at the car window. The car then drove off. We were left with an irate man on the other side of the road walking towards us. In a haze of panic came a voice, "du wanna lift?". We nodded and the camper van from which the voice originated stopped and reversed towards us. Two young girls from the South Island were our saviours. They had made a pact to pick up hitchhikers along their travels to repay the numerous lifts they had. Our St Christophers were clearly looking after us.
We only just made it back in time for 'The Rock'. Boarding the vessel, we were informed that we were entitled to unlimited free tea and coffee! That showed us that we were on to a winner and our 'whoop' drew a little too much initial attention to ourselves :D Our first activity was a shooting competition - our target: a plastic duck being towed along the back of the boat! Unfortunatley, we didnt win. We blame the waves. Our daily allowance of St Christopher loving had clearly been used up. We then fished for our supper (Ange caught a little red snapper which was thankfully released, Zoe caught w*** all :D!). Dinner was scrummy, although there was a suspicious distinct lack of fish. We rounded off the evening with late night kayaking through sea water containing phosphorous algae, which charges in the sun and glows in the dark when you disturb it. We managed to write our names with our fingers in the sea, like a water sparkler! With our numerous activities so far, drinking had not been on the agenda.... Until now :) Stef's specials were the order of the night: Vodka, Kaluah and baileys with milk (a mistake on his part, which worked out well for us). This made the the water strangely appealing and a midnight swim was in order. Ange was first to dive in, leaving a glowing sparkle in her path. Zoe was not so brave and only ended up getting in when threatened to be pushed by one of the crew (although she did drag him in with her!)! Drying by the fire on the back of the boat and with only the stars above us, we saw the most amazing shooting star that literally lit up the entire night sky. We chilled with the crew on the back of the boat until the early hours of the morning.
The following day we visited Roberton Island (one of the 144 islands in the Bay) and went snorkeling in one of its lagoons (which was FREEZING!!). Sea urchines and mussels were collected and offered out to sample back on the boat - Zoe politely declined although Angie was daring enough to try - once was enough thank you :)
The next day we visited Cape Reinga up in the northern most tip of the North island. The Maori believe that when someone passes away, their spirit leaves the body and collects at Spirits Bay in the Cape for 7 days. This gives people close to the deceased a chance to connect to the spirit and communicate before the spirit leaves via the ocean to travel to a better place. This is a very picturesque spot and you could tell from its visitors just how meaningful the place is, allowing a welcome relief to those visiting.
Enough of the "deep and meaningful"...sand boarding awaited! After a strenuous climb up sand dunes at least 100m in height, armed only with a body board, we threw ourselves onto the boards, held on for dear life and sped down the slope, head first. Screaming was not an option (without swallowing the entire beach) and as for seeing where you were going... no chance. We just held on and hoped! Clambering back on the bus, we proceeded to drive along 90 mile beach, waves crashing into the side of us. After the driver convinced us not to worry, we drove passed a rusty car which was buried in the sand.
Another early start and we found ourselves on a boat riding the waves and searching for dolphins in the hope of swimming with them. We were told that the day before, they had seen Orca's in the dolphins usual hang out and so finding dolphins was not as successful as originally hoped. So to occupy ourselves, we played a game of "who cannot hold on for the longest". Both almost fell over in determination not to lose. We decided we drew before any serious injuries were incurred. 5 minutes before returning back, we saw the most beautiful pack of dolphins. They danced and played really close to the boat and seemed to love the attention. Lack of time meant we were unable to swim with them. Better luck next time maybe. Time to catch our coach back to Auckland for our flight to Cairns the following morning.
Thanks for reading! We need to give our hands a wee break but will be back very soon - no joke. We are stuck in Cairns...all will become clear.