Unfortunately, when we arrived in the Bay of Islands, it was pretty rainy and dull! We decided to try and spend the evening in the town's car park!!! There seemed to be a few people sleeping in cars and campers so we figured we'd try it out too!! We met some fellow travellers, who were parked up beside us, so to waste a few hours before bed time, we went for a few drinks together at the local backpacker bar.
The next morning we were up early, as Becky was worried about getting into trouble for staying overnight in the car park (!) and headed for the passenger ferry across to Russell. It's a lovely little town, very quiet with little to no traffic. It had a lovely little beach where we relaxed and got some rays, before the black clouds came over. So we headed back over to Paihia to find a campsite for the night. In the torrential rain there was little else to do, but sit in the van and play cards!
We decided to head south in a bid to find some better weather, so before leaving the bay we headed to Waitangi, the birth place of the 'treaty of NZ'. The British Residency that originally stood in the grounds was a quaint and very small 4 roomed house. Although now there have been some extensions to make room for the display of the historical treaty, it was still very colonial in style. The treaty was signed between the Maori leaders and the British in the residency, but was left to rack and ruin for a long time, until some wealthy lord and lady bought the land and donated it to the people of NZ. On the grounds they also have a great example of a Maori meeting house and a waka built in the 1940s for the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the treaty.
We arrived just outside Auckland, in Waimera, after about 4 hours driving and spent the night here. We stayed in a campsite recommended by the hire company, as we got over 50% off at the town's thermal spas. We spent the next morning relaxing and recuperating (unfortunately, still in the rain) in the various pools that had water naturally heated to between 30 and 48 degrees. Although the 48 degree pool was far too hot for either of us to sit in! Feeling refreshed we set off towards Rotorua, another 4 hours drive south.