We were ready to leave Auckland by 9.30am & managed to find our way to Highway1 heading North. At first it was somewhat similar to driving on the M25 but this improved once we'd cleared the bridge (& it's "Nippon Clippons" - Japanese made extra add-on lanes!) We kept going for an hour and a half, then took a break at Waipu cove. This is a beautiful place which looks out South towards Great Barrier Island. Directly opposite the cove you can see the "Hen and Chicken" Islands. We had a stroll on the lovely sandy beach before continuing North to Whangerei (pronounced "Fun-gar-ei"). We reached Paihia by 4pm & checked into a very modern, clean & quite luxurious motel run by a most welcoming & helpful lady called Winnie who showed us to our 'unit' which was, thankfully, on the ground floor - our cases seem to gain weight every time we move them! Once we'd settled in we decided to ask Winnie to book us onto a cruise around the Bay of Islands for Saturday. Not only did she do this, but got she us a 10% discount as well! Brilliant!
It was a very short walk into Paihia so off we went to buy provisions for the next few days. On the way we stopped off at a craft market & got chatting to a man who carves jade to make jewellery. As most New Zealanders we've encountered he was very keen to tell us about his ancestors who came here from London in the early 1900s. After gazing at the wonderful view from the shore & pronouncing in Kiwi fashion that it's "awesome!" we tracked down a 'Countdown' supermarket & bought the makings of packed lunches for our upcoming trips. Goodness knows how people here afford their shopping - food here is horrendously expensive, but of course they have to import so much, which adds to the cost of everything. Makes you thankful for what we have at home!