Beautiful Bay of Islands
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
83Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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Saturday the 12th November we were disappointed to wake up to thick cloud that threatened rain. We had just had two glorious days of sunshine, which had eased our transition from South America, but now we were truly back to jeans and jumper weather.
We were up and out of the hostel early as it was our last day in Auckland. We walked into Ponsonby and posted a couple of things before walking down into the city. We passed through a park where I noticed the differences between here and home. Where as at home a Saturday morning meant football practice, out here it meant cricket practice. I would have thought rugby but this park was all bats, stumps and balls.
We wandered down through the harbour and ended up at a farmers style market where we hid from some passing showers and indulged on free samples. Alex bought some chutney but we both declared that it wasn't nearly as nice as her Grandma's home made stuff
We picked the car up around half 12 and did some essential shopping for food and camping stuff. This took a lot longer than expected and we didn't leave Auckland until gone five. With it being a 3 hour drive to Paihia in the Bay of Islands we decided to spend our first night at the half way point of Waipu. The campsite was right next to the beach but we only managed a small walk before cooking dinner and heading to bed.
An early start on Sunday meant that we made good time on the road heading further north. The scenery and terrain were stunning. One minute we'd be driving next to the sea and the next we'd be in amongst some very steep hills. We reached Paihia just after lunch and booked into the Beachside Holiday Park camp site. We were literally right on the water front with a gorgeous view and got free wifi, something we are learning doesn't happen a lot around New Zealand. That afternoon we booked a onto a sailing trip called She's a Lady. With our booking we got a couple of ferry tickets over to Russell, so we hopped on the next ferry and headed across the bay. Russell is a very small town with only a few roads and a hand full of craft and gift shops. There was an awesome art gallery but alas, everything was out of our price range by a good few thousand dollars. The stuff was very nice tho! After Russell we enjoyed a couple of happy hour drinks along the sea front before heading back to our sea side tent pitch
We woke on Monday morning very excited about our sailing trip to find a vale of cloud above and one of the vital ingredients of sailing missing, there was a distinct lack of wind! Nevertheless we held out hope for a brighter and windier afternoon and boarded She's a Lady. A lot of the other cruises around the bay were on large ferry type boats with 100+ people on board. Our trip was run by a local on his own sail boat and took a maximum of 12 people. On our trip there were only two other couples. Glen, our skipper and boat owner, was a local from Russell and very enthusiastic and friendly. We headed out into the bay at around 10 am (under motor) and straight away came across a school of dolphins. We had been told to expect dolphins but hadn't expected them to arrive 10 minutes into our trip. We spent about 20 minutes in the area with them breaching, diving and jumping right at the bow of the boat. Fantastic!
After our little wildlife encounter we continued motoring through the bay with Glen telling us about the area and some of the more interesting islands. We were heading for a small island with a secluded beach where we'd stop and have lunch. As we arrived at said island the clouds began to break and the sunshine well and truly came out. We anchored up and got a lift into shore. One of the couples went out in the two glass bottom kayaks, the couple went snorkelling and me and Alex climbed the hill. The view from the top was incredible and well worth the short hike. Glen mean while was making lunch on the boat and wasn't back by the time we were back down, so we went for a snorkel, well, I did! The water was freezing. It was the sort of cold that took your breath away when you jumped in. I took the plunge and after I was able to speak again moaned at Alex for only venturing in up to her waist. Whimp!! To be fair, it was stupidly cold and there wasn't a lot to see except a few fish and strange jelly fish things
Lunch was an awesome little picnic that Glen prepared fresh and we were able to sit in the sunshine whilst eating it. Also over lunch the wind decided to pick up, and by quite a lot. Once back on the boat and out the bay we had all sails up and Alex got her first taste of proper sailing. We got some excellent leaning action going on and were able to get involved as much as we liked, or not at all, with the sailing of the boat. We sailed around the islands for a good couple of hours and even saw some more dolphins before heading back into Paihia. Today had been another one of those unexpected gems of a day and I'd definitely recommend the She's a Lady trip to anyone venturing to the Bay of Islands.
Monday evening was a chilled one after our day on the high sea. We ate dinner by the water front near our tent and planned tomorrows drive. Tomorrow we head south again, back trough Auckland and out to the Coromandel peninsula.
Lots more to look forward to. Hope you are all well. Would love to hear from you so leave us a comment below.
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