Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Wednesday, March 2, 2005

I arrived in Paihia yesterday after a 4 hour journey up from Auckland. I had woken to terrible weather and got thoroughly soaked en route to the bus station! Luckily the weather cleared as I headed north and although still a little cloudy, Paihia was a lot brighter.

Paihia is a very idyllic little beach resort reminiscent of Lanzarote, and I plan to spend the next week just chilling out and treating it like a can wait! There are so many activities and excursions to choose from, and so far I have held back as I want to assess which ones are the best/cost efficient options.

Yesterday was nice as I checked into my hostel...a huge improvement on the hostels in Auckland. There were just 3 others in my dorm - 2 Irish girls and 1 guy from Chile. The rooms were a lot more airy and bright, and there was a huge communal kitchen area. A DVD room, a hot tub, free use of the bicycles/kayaks...all for about 7 pounds a night! I was quite impressed.

I then bumped into 6 of my fellow BUNACers! I knew that they were coming up here (couldn't get rid of them!!) and it was nice to see some familiar faces. I said I'd meet up with them later for a few beers. In the meantime, I went for a long walk along the beachfronts and enjoyed the scenery that was on offer. It really was nice and I hardly saw another soul as it was about 6pm. It was quite addictive really as I seemed to discover cove after cove that was completely deserted!

I returned back to my hostel and had a nice long chat with Javier, the Chilean guy. He is really nice and he enjoys speaking to me as he wants to improve his English. Before he came to New Zealand, he couldn't speak much at all but he has picked up a lot and he made me promise to correct him if he made any mistakes! He also found it quite amusing that I returned from the supermarket armed with a loaf of bread and 4 tins of beans! I guess that beans on toast isn't as popular in Chile as it is in England!

At about 9pm I gave Steve a ring and went and joined the others at Pipi Patch Bar. To my delight it was happy hour and plenty of lager was consumed, as well as a Vodka and Coke and a Tequila Slammer in the Saltwater Lodge Bar. It was a decent night and I went back to my hostel at around 1am. Aaron, the youngest BUNACer at 18 years old, surprises me with his capacity for alcohol! Pint after pint, JD and Coke after JD and Coke, he continues to drink and he is a good laugh, as are all the others. I think they are going back to Auckland on Thursday, but there is talk of Aaron staying on and doing an overnight cruise with me on Friday. It involves a lot of kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving and stuff like that, and there is an on board bar and dormitory so it sounds good.

Today has been another good one. As I might have mentioned before, I used the website for a number of months before I came to New Zealand. Well there is a superb message board on there with a lot of like minded people, and one of the people was a girl called Nicole who had moved to Paihia last month to work for a while. So we arranged to meet up for the day and do this nice walk that she'd heard about, and it turned out to be very enjoyable.

I met her at 11am. She said she'd be wearing a turquoise top, but wouldn't you know it, there was ANOTHER girl at our meeting point in a turquoise top. So I must of appeared quite silly going up to a random person and saying "Are you Nicole?" Never mind though. The real Nicole emerged minutes later and she drove us to the forest. The plan was to walk through the forest and go to Angel Falls, then come back the same route.

It probably took about 45 minutes to reach the waterfall, but it was nice chatting to her about New Zealand and stuff, and it was cool because we were shaded by the trees. It reminded me of Wentbridge Woods a lot and it would have been great to have Amber here! Eventually we reached the waterfall and it was stunning (photos to follow next week). I really wish I could have jumped in the water but I refrained as I didn't take my swimming stuff! It was so peaceful there and I could have sat there all day, but Nicole needed to get back and pick the family's kids up from school (she was kind of like a nanny).

Back in Paihia, we had a quick drink and talked about skydiving. She is doing one on Thursday as it is her birthday and so she is going to let me know what it's like. There is a chance that I'll do it next Monday on my birthday but I'm not sure yet. It works out at about 90 pounds for a jump from 9000 feet with 30 seconds freefall. I'll keep you posted...

So it's been a nice, pleasant start in Paihia. I love the chilled out atmosphere really is just like being on holiday! I plan on doing some swimming with the dolphins tomorrow, chilling out on Thursday with a couple of walks with Steve, then maybe the overnight cruise on Friday with Aaron.

There is a lot to do here!
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