The Bay of Islands
Trip Start Jan 25, 2008
48Trip End Nov 16, 2008
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while I was waiting at a picnic table at the Whangarei info center for the bus to come (it was almost an hour late!) I was starting to get nervous, so I kept my mind off the absence of my ride by watching the various people that came and went from the tourist shop. about 15 minutes before the bus finally showed, a white land cruiser pulled up and parked in the bus lane
back on the MAGIC at last, the bus driver called me up to the front and had me sit in that chair by the door. you know, the one that flips down and all the tour guides always sit in? he wanted to ask me if I needed any accommodation booked before we reached Paihia (since the driver will do that for you, but I had just got on and had nothing on record with him) but I kindly said I had already taken care of it. he was a nice kiwi guy that happened to be from the Otago region and we ended up chatting about traveling to South America for about a half an hour. it was kinda cool, sitting in that tour guide chair, with nothing in front of you but the huge windshield and the open road.
we reached Paihia at around 1pm and I checked into my room and picked a bed (and it was a bottom bunk for once! woo hoo!). it was an 8 girl dorm room which didn't phase me, but we were all sharing one bathroom
the day had turned out to be OUTSTANDING. "a ten" is what my mother would have called it. since I had the afternoon free I had already made up my mind to take a passenger ferry across the bay to the sleepy town of Russell and wander around. I walked about 5 minutes along the water to "downtown" to buy my ferry ticket, buy some post cards and then to the kiwibank to close my account, as I was leaving for Australia in 3 days. after those affairs were in order I boarded a small, bright red boat and I was jetted across the bay in 6 minutes flat. the moment I set foot on the docks, I was smitten. I had had friends tell me about the allure of Russell and man, were they right. it almost reminded me of a tropical version of Nantucket. small, narrow streets...quaint houses with picked fences and rose gardens... a close-knit community feel to it... I almost felt like I was back home. almost. oh, and the view! the water was sooo blue and you could see straight across the bay to Paihia. Russell was in fact made the original capital of NZ in 1840, but only hung on to the status for a year before it was moved to Auckland, and the town was known to be quite a busy whaling and sealing port
the Bay of Islands was quickly moving up "my favorite places in NZ" list, and I was in no hurry to get back to the hostel. I eventually got back just before dark and had a small dinner before heading to bed for the night.
tomorrow I have planned to take the day trip (or "safari" as they call it) up to the very tip of NZ, to where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. Cape Reigna.