Auckland to Paihia

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Flag of New Zealand  , Northland,
Thursday, March 29, 2012

I woke up today at 5.30am, as  I had to be picked up by the bus at 7am. Kim came with me to the bus stop, and we waited for the bus to come....and waited. It got to 8.15, and the bus still hadn't arrived. We got a bit worried, so I rang Stray up, and they said the driver was running late, and would be there in 20 minutes. Kim had to go at that point, so we said goodbye, and I carried on waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It got to 9.30, and I was freezing cold from sitting outside for 2 and a half hours, and I was desperate for a wee, when this bus saying 'Mojo Surf' pulled up. This guy jumped out and said, "This is the Stray Bus". I have gave him my luggage and said "I'm going to the loo" and walked off to find a toilet. When I got back I got on the bus, and the driver told me his alarm clock hadn't gone off so he had slept in, and that was why he was late. I wasn't particularly impressed, but he seemed nice, so I didn't say anything, and tried to have a sleep. 'Mambo', our driver, firstly took us to a 900 year old kauri tree. I've seen a few of these now, and they are pretty amazing, and this one was huge! But as we were running late, we literally stopped for 5 minutes before getting back on the bus. We next stopped at a place called Te Hana, a replica of a Maori pa site. We joined in with a group of teenagers from a local school. When we got there, there were two photographers, who had been asked to film/photograph our tour for Te Hana and Stray Travel's marketing. So we had camera's following us the whole way. Our guide chose our chief, a teenage boy from the school. He led us into the pa site, where we were met by the warriors of the tribe. We were eventually allowed in, and were given a full traditional Maori welcome, and were invited into their ancestral house. It was absolutely amazing. I just sat there in awe. They performed a welcome song, a poi song (poi are balls which the women swing around their wrists, and sort of use them as percussion. That's not a very good description, sorry), and finally a haka. I thought it was amazing, and was so impressed. The meeting house had a small door, which would have been even smaller originally, so that when you enter you have to bow your head. This means that if the house is being invaded, the warriors inside can decapitate you as you walk in. Clever eh? We got out of the meeting house, and the tour moved on, but the photographers asked if some of our Stray Travel group would stay behind for photos with the maori. There were six of us girls, and 4 of them just walked off straight away, and didn't even answer the photographer. So I volunteered, as I thought it was be really cool, and persuaded this other Canadian girl on our tour to do it with me. We had some great photos with the male warriors, and then they asked us to do a Maori greeting called hongi, which I had never done before. You hold the other persons hand, and press your noses together. But when I did it, we had to hold it for ages so they could take photos, and me and this Maori guy really had to stop ourselves from laughing. It was a bit awkard, but all good fun. We had a couple of photos with a Maori woman, befoe rejoining the group. We looked at the rest of the pa site, befor leaving the school group to carry on, as we had to leave. As were going, the photographer asked me and the Canadian girl to sign release forms for our photos to be used in publications for Stray and Te Hana. He also said he'd send us the video of our tour and give us a DVD of it too! Awesome! The other girls were so disappointed when we told them. They should have volunteered instead of being rude and walking off! Now I'm a Stray Travel model, haha!Finally, we stopped at these toilets designed by this famous architect, Hundertwasser. They were very pretty, with lots of glass and colour! Finally, we got to Paihia (which Mambo pronounced pie-here, so that's how I remember it, cause NZ loves its pie!). Everyone went off to the BASE hostel, but I had read about this cute place called Pickled Parrot, and left everyone else to go find it. I'm glad I did, instead of going to BASE, as it's really nice. There's free breakfast, free wifi, a parrot, and the owner has 3 dogs, so I'm in heaven! I've booked a boat tour for Saturday, and head to Cape Reinga on Sunday, so I'm looking forward to that!
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