So this is just a little quick update of my 2 day trip to Paihia in the Bay of Islands that i went on a couple of weeks ago. I went with a touring company called Magic (1 because they are a good tour group, and 2 it was free!) :o) My favourite word. We headed from Auckland really early in the morning and crossed the harbour bridge to head up north. We stopped at Warkworth to visit Sheepworld for a few hrs - which even though i have seen lamb and pigs before i still get excited about! it was sooooooo cute. From here we travelled up to Paihia which is the main town to up to the far north (but i didnt have time to do this on this trip as i had to get back to Auckland the next day to start work) so i only spent a day here exploring and sightseeing.
We went to the Haruru falls which only 6 months ago flooded the whole area during a freak storm - the campsite has only just re opened this week! the pictures looked real crazy. After this stop we headed to the Waitangi National Reserve which is the site of the signing of the Waitangi treaty on 6th Feb 1840 between the Maori people and Queen Victorias government. Its kind of like a relinquishing of power - it gave the British control over the Maori settlements in exchange for citizenship rights and priveleges of Britain - however miscommunication and interpretation meant that it didnt go to plan! Even today there are still issues over what rights and land the Maori's truly have. However it seems that the government over here has started to give the land back to the Maori people and apologise for the heavyhanded way which the europeans settled everything in the past. Its really interesting to be honest - but i'll stop there! :o)
From Paihia we went over to Russell for another walk and to look out over the Bay of Islands from the top of the hill - the views were fantastic and we sat there for ages! after a fish and chip dinner we went back to the hostel and had a few drinks, but we were up early the next day so it was kinda early.....kinda :o)
We drove back down to Auckland through the Kauri Coast which is the western side of the North Island. We headed first to Rawene where we dropped a few people who were taking a side trip (and had the most amazing hot choc and cake!) and then headed down to Opononi where some others were getting off to do the Hokianga Harbour crossing. Opononi is this tiny town with amazing views (see the pix) and a fab story about a friendly dolphin that used to come and play in the surf with the people. They called him Opo (this was back in the '50's) and he was a mini legend. We watched a really old (very British!) recording of how he turned the town into a tourist trap - people would come from all over NZ to see him, although he sadly died and basically that was it for Opononi's tourism! There are many theories how he died - exhaustion, foul play, stress!?! and accidental death by boats but no one knows....his grave is outside the hotel and they have put up a statue as a reminder.
its all very odd to be honest....anyway they still get a few tourists so i guess its worth hanging on to! our last section back was through the Waipoua Kauri Forest where we visited some of the mighty Kauri trees that are native to NZ - many were logged and made into ships, houses, furniture...anything really as they were such versatile trees. The Waipoua has the largest collection of native trees in NZ and houses the sacred 'Tane Mahuta' which is the Lord of the forest in Mauri legend. He is the tallest tree in the forest and the oldest. Our journey back after this was pretty much an express and i fell asleep! what a surprise :o)
anyway im back in Auckland now and will be for a while so i will keep u posted about what im up to! xxxxxx