The Bay Of Islands

I’ve had a week of relaxation in Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Paihia holds a special place in my heart as I spent around 3 weeks here back in 2004, and I really, really love it. This is the longest I will be in one place on this trip and it was always my intention to spend a good chunk of time here. Although my intention was to relax and take it easy this week, I still managed to get quite a lot done.

I went to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on my first day here. It had just been Waitangi Day (on the 6th February) which celebrates the signing of the treaty between the British and the Maori. Both the New Zealand and British flags are flown here:

The next day I took the short ferry ride over to Russell. Russell was the first capital of New Zealand, and had something of a reputation back in the day…its nickname was ‘the hellhole of the Pacific’. These days it has a much more genteel pace of life.

I went to the Pompallier Mission which was a tannery and printworks in the 1800s. The guided tour was very informative and gave a fascinating insight into how books were printed in those days. The majority of the books were printed in Maori, and it sounds like this helped relations between the Europeans (the printers had come over from France) and the Maori.

There is a gorgeous beach in Russell which I sat and spent a while at in the afternoon:

In the evening I went river kayaking up to the Haruru Falls. This was really good fun. We went part way up the river in a boat before getting into the kayaks and kayaking the rest of the way up the river to the waterfalls. After getting a bit damp under the falls, we kayaked back downstream and enjoyed the sunset and the stars. When it gets dark, the water in the river glows which is really cool.

The next day was an early start for a day trip up to Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand. We drove up 90 Mile Beach:

And went sand boarding down some enormous sand dunes:

We went from the highest point on the right – don’t forget to keep your mouth closed or you get a mouthful of sand!!

After lunch we made it to Cape Reinga. This is the most northerly point you can drive to to NZ, but is not quite the most northerly point.

At Cape Reinga you can see where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea:

On the way back we stopped off for some ‘fush & chups’:

The following day I had a proper chilled out day following 2 fairly hectic days. I only left the hostel to go to the supermarket. Every now and then you need a day when you do nothing, even when you’re travelling!

On Monday I walked along the coastal walkway to Opua. Opua has a marina and not much else but the walk was nice and long and gave me lots of time to think.

Yesterday I went on a boat tour to the Hole In The Rock. The weather has been beautiful for most of the time I’ve been here but has just started to turn as the remnants of a cyclone are on their way. Because of this the sea was very choppy and the captain wasn’t confident that we’d be able to get all the way out to see the Hole in the Rock. Thankfully, even thought the sea was choppy, we were able to make it out to Cape Brett to see the hole:

We also stopped off at Urupukapuka Island, the largest island in the bay, to admire the views:

I’m going back to Auckland this afternoon and then onto Coromandel for a couple of days. I’ve had a lovely time in Paihia. Possibly had built it up in my head to be more than it was, after all, almost 12 years have passed since I was last here, but it’s still been good, and it’s been nice not to have to cram everything into my bag every day.


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