So, once again I find myself in Paihia, Bay of Islands, the first place in New Zealand I stayed at outside of Auckland. Seems to me that I've come full circle. :)
I've had a hectic few days recently, and now I am all good and ready to chill out... and really I'm in the perfect place for it. Paihia is as pretty as I remember it being, and this time I have the twin benefits of the weather being nicer and me being here for longer (although no Stephanie :( ).
The trip up from Wellington wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be. I chatted with the driver for some of it, slept for a good portion of it, and controlled the tunes for the rest. So not too bad really. My couple of days in Auckland were uninspiring to begin with, but on the second day I decided to take Stray up on their offer of a free city tour and so things looked up somewhat. The tour was part cool, part promotional rubbish, but then it was free. We got to see the Sky Tower and go round the harbour to the Savage memorial, where there are some incredible views back over the city. We also had a nice pub lunch (which wasn't free). But the really exciting part was when we got to go to the harbour bridge and walk across the middle to watch people bungy jump. We walked underneath where the road was, and had to be attached to the bridge to make sure we didn't fall into the water... kind of scary, but pretty awesome. I made some new friends on this day, and later went out for dinner at a very good (but also cheap) Thai place followed by drinks.
The road to Paihia is one of the reasons I love New Zealand... it's just so pretty! My Stray bus didn't stop in as many places as it did the first time I did the trip, but we still got to go to Parry's Kauri Park and to Kawakawa to look at the Hunderwasser (sp?) toilers, so that was fun. The hostel I'm staying in in Paihia is really nice - The Moustrap, for anyone who's thinking of coming here - cheap, friendly and with plenty of room to hang out in.
The real excitement of my Paihia trip so far, however, has not been the hoste, it's been the dolphins! I got a free eco cruise trip as part of my Stray package, and made use of it on wednesday, We went on a boat out around some of the islands, with beautiful calm and clear conditions I might add (so nice to be on a boat and not feel seasick), in search of dolphins and we found some! They were so cool! Unfortunately, I didn't get to swim with the dolphins because they had babies with them and the Department of Conservation has strict rules about that, but it was still an amazing trip. We stopped off at one of the islands, and went through the 'Hole in the Rock' on the boat. I also stopped in Ruseell, which was the sight of the first New Zealand government, and had a look round.
Yesterday I managed to make some new friends and so spent some of the day with them, shopping and hanging out.In the evening we all got very drunk and partied the night away with the best of them.
Needless to say, I may or may not be slightly hungover right now.