Well needless to say missing the flight wasn't in our plans. Whilst Dani was about to cry, Sam was the complete opposite, finding it very funny, but when Dani started to get angry Sam left her with the bags and went to sort things out. After speaking to some extremely rude Jetstar staff who didn't even attempt to suggest any help, and a stupid Quantas man who was for some reason was trying to change our connection flight from Sydney to Auckland, Sam managed to get us a Virgin Blue flight half an hour after the original one, phew! Only downfall ….. $325 each!! Despite this we were just happy to be on a flight and even happier when we got a row of seats each on the plane =)
In Sydney we were running on Perth time, so when it was 8am there to us it was actually 5am, and yet we still couldn't sleep! Instead we spoke to the parents to 'laugh' about the flight incident, then went to duty free where we bought supplies consisting of 5litres of vodka =) The flight to Auckland was ok, nothing special despite being one of the Quantas ones (we expect these to be good) but when we finally arrived in new Zealand, we were knackered. After confusion about which hostel we were in (note to anyone staying at Nomads, there are two on the same street) we did some washing, got fed and went to bed.
The original plan for the next few days was to go to the Bay of Islands before collecting our camper van and going exploring. However, this changed when we realised how exhausted we were and because Sam wasn't feeling very well we got a private room for the price of a budget dorm (the cheapest room possible that we spent the first night in which was a sweat box) and decided to go up north once we got the camper instead.
We had a few quiet nights, going to see Valentines Day at the cinema, (great film) one watching the mud wrestling in the bar, and one drunk one before collecting Betty on the Sunday. Now, Betty was a bit older then Herb but did come with a grill/cooker so we didn't mind. After the paper signing (which was a lot quicker then in Australia) we were off on our 3-hour drive through windy roads up north. We didn't really have any plans but thought we would try and catch up with two lads we met in Thailand who live in the Bay of Islands and told us to call in when we got to New Zealand. We weren't sure where they lived but we were looking for two restaurant businesses, one with a large fish tank. We weren't holding out much luck of finding them until we drove past 'Vinnies Takeaway' and '35° South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar', surely too much of a coincidence?! Well it turned out that we'd found them, so for the next few nights we stayed at their houses. We only wanted somewhere to park up and have a shower but we were offered a bed so couldn't say no =)
Vinnie took us out on his boat to see the gorgeous Bay and Islands and for a little fishing. Dani wanted to catch her own fish to eat but wasn't successful. Jon was working a lot but we managed to call in for drinks in the bar. We travelled up north a couple of the days, first to Taupo Bay and Matauri Bay where we saw some amazing views of the coast. The other day we went to Cape Reinga, which is the 'northwesternmost tip of New Zealand' and also where you can clearly see the Pacific and Tasman oceans meet. On the way back we drove the coastal road, again seeing the amazing views. That evening we stayed at a lovely campsite in Harua Falls so we could charge the campers battery.
Our last day we booked onto a dolphin trip that takes you on a guided tour of the islands and gives you the opportunity to swim with the large (largest in the world) bottle nose dolphins that occupy the bay at this time of year. Unfortuanately, due to the cyclone hitting the pacific islands, the tail end reached the north of New Zealand meaning the swell would be quite big, oh dear! The captain gave us the option of getting a full refund if we chose not to go, but advised us that although it would be rough the dolphin viewing wouldn't be affected as they don't care about the weather. Sam was very reluctant whilst Dani was up for it, so after talking two sea sickness tablets each, we set off.
More or less instantly the swell got us and Sam began feeling woozy. Some parts were very rough whilst others weren't too bad so Sam just slept inbetween (god knows how!). We saw two pods of dolphins thoughout the day along with a blue penquin and a shark, all very cool! Due to the weather we had to get extremely close to view the Hole in the Rock as there was alot of mist and unfortunetely were unable to go through it. There were some very rough parts as we passed through various islands, especially past the famous Black Rocks. We stopped of at an island for lunch and on the way back the captian got the boom net out. Dani didn't want a go but Sam loved it and managed to perfect the art of hanging onto the net and her bikini bottoms at the same time!
We left Vinnies house early (well 9.30 is early to us) on Friday morning and set off on our adventure. Just as we were leaving the bay, we saw a guy hitchhiking and being the nice people that we are offered to give him a lift to Auckland as we were passing through. So there you go, Sam, Dani and Alex the German vacate the Bay of Islands =)