. We went out all the way to 'Hole in the Rock', which is the last island in the Bay. When the weather permits, they usually take the boat through the hole, but it too was far too rough, so the captain got as close as he could to it so we could see. We then briefly stopped on the biggest island in the bay (I've forgotten the name), and while everyone ate at the cafe I did a short walk up to the lookout point to check out the view over the bay. Then it was back on the boat and back to Paihia. We were lucky enough to see some more dolphins on our way home too. They raced underneath the boat as we were going along, and kept jumping out the water. But they were so fast it was almost impossible to get a photo of them! So the boat trip was a fun experience, I just wish the weather had been better.
Today, I got up even earlier and got on the Dune Rider which took me up to Cape Reinga. On the way we went to '90 Mile Beach' and drove along it in our bus. It's basically used as a road, and we passed loads of fisherman surf casting for snappers (my brother will probably know what that means!). The beach isn't actually 90 miles long, I think it's more like 75 miles or something! I just kept thinking as we were driving along how wonderful it would be to gallop along the beach on horse-back! If only! We got out and stopped for 10 minutes to have a walk along the beach, and the others tried some shellfish which washes up there, and you can eat them straight away. Then we drove along a river to these huge sand dunes. Our driver was rather worried we would sink in the sand, so kept re-parking the bus. When he was happy it wouldn't sink, he got some boards out and took us to the top of the dune. It was so steep, and an effort to walk up. When I got to the top the slope looked almost vertical, and I really didn't want to go down! But I forced myself, and I'm glad I did because it was really fun
. At one point I was picking up quite a lot of speed, and was worried I wouldn't stop at the bottom and would fly into the river (which one boy in our group did - luckily he was ok, but it was his own fault he didn't stop in time!). We then drove to Cape Reinga to see the clashing of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, and the lighthouse that is there. It was a beautiful place, and felt even more special because of the Maori belief that their spirits depart to the spirit world there. The lighthouse is level with lighthouses in Sydney and Santiago too! There was this really cool signpost, pointing to all these places around the world, including London, and it made me realise how far away from home I am! On the way back to Paihia we stopped at 'Gumdiggers Park', and rather boring place where people used to dig for gum from the swamp kauri trees. It wasn't very interesting, so I won't go into detail. But I will mention the swamp kauri that was uncovered there, and it's believed to be around 100,000 years old! Crazy! Then it back home for a well earned rest. I'm leaving in a couple of hours for Auckland, before heading to Hahei and Raglan!
And lastly, I promised my room mate Matt that I would include him in my blog, which I don't usually do. He's Swiss (not Swedish, sorry), and likes to make fun of me. So Matt, if you manage to find this, well done, and I'll see you in Hahei!
I'm coming to the end of my stay in Paihia, and the end of my visit to the North. So a brief update and some photos of what I got up to. On Friday I woke up late as I was still tired from the day before. I had a chat to the family, and then was planning to do a walk over the mangrove forest, but I didn't have time, so I did a walk up to a lookout in the reserve in Paihia instead. Some nice views up there, and then I did a quick visit to the supermarket before heading home. On Saturday I got up early and headed off to my boat cruise. Unfortunately the weather was pretty terrible; rain, grey skies, and rough seas! When we got out of the safety of the bay the waves were so big, the boat kept crashing over them. Some poor woman got really seasick, and we had to listen to her retching into a paper bag for most of the journey. I just put my iPod on and tried to ignore her! Pretty soon after leaving the harbour, we found some bottle-nosed doplhins. I've never seen a dolphin before, so it was pretty amazing for me. They played around under our boat for a few minutes before disappearing again, and we continued on our way