We followed the twin coast discovery route from Whangarei to Paihia on the 22nd. We stopped at the Tutukaka coast to get a nice view of the beach. We then stopped in Kawakawa to see and use the famous Hundertwasser toilets (toilets designed by a famous Austrian architect). They were pretty good toilets.
When we got to Paihia we didn't have a clue where we were going to stay or anything so we parked in the town centre and went to an iSite to get some information. The town was very busy and very touristy, it was a real holiday destination place. We walked around town and checked out two different sites and decided which one we wanted to stay at. They were both walking distance from town. There were no free parking sites anywhere for campers so we had to pay onto a site.
We got sorted at the campsite we chose- Bay of Islands holiday apartments and campervan park. We got electric hook up and the site had toilets, showers and wifi for $120 for 3 nights. We were very excited to have a shower and it was really nice to have electric hook up!
The first day we just walked around town and to the wharf where there were lots of boats. Most of the trips to the bay of islands went from here so they were always coming and going. We booked a dolphin and sailing trip on a catamaran for the last day with Carino NZ which looked great! There were lovely views of some of the islands in the Bay of Islands from the pier. There was a nice beach on the way into town too that was very busy with the hot weather. It was a lovely and very picturesque place. We had a drink back at the van on the night and played some games. Our first time on a site with electricity and our first alcoholic drink in our van! It was good!
On the 23rd we went to Waitangi Treaty Grounds for the day which was very interesting to learn about how and why it came about for NZ to become controlled or governed by Britain. Something again we are never taught about at school! We saw a cultural show there too from the Maori people, which was really really good. We went around the grounds and saw where the Waitangi treaty was first signed between Maori and the British Crown in 1840. For dinner we sat in a takeaway near the water and had fish and chips which was just delicious!
On the last day we went on the dolphin trip around the bay of islands (there's at least 144 islands) with Carino NZ catamaran company. We managed to see a group of dolphins that had a baby dolphin with them. We followed them for about half an hour and watched them as they rested and slept, which was very interesting! We didn't see anymore for the whole day which was gutting but at least we saw some! I never got the chance to swim with them either which I would have loved to do but it has to be done in precious conditions! They are now classed as endangered so there are very strict rules relating to the trips. It was still a great day though. On the trip we saw the smallest penguins in the world relaxing in the sea and we saw many many of the islands in the bay, which were beautiful. We stopped at the biggest island in the bay for lunch. We hiked to the top of the hill on the island and got great views over all the other islands. We did some sailing on the way back and Nath helped to pull the sails up. The trip was just over 6 hours long and we had a BBQ lunch included which they cooked on the boat. All in all a great day and great trip! The last night we just relaxed at our van before hitting the road again in the morning.