KeriKeri and KawaKawa

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, January 6, 2012

After New Years, we spent a few days in the Bay of Islands region of New Zealand. Northland and the Bay of Islands are north of Auckland and are famous for big game fishing, sailing, gorgeous beaches and diving in the 144 islands in the area. Our Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa was used on a dolphin and sailing trip for our family and Kerry and Dave, leaving from Paihia. I researched the numerous companies for this outing and chose a smaller 50 foot catamaran that would only take 40 people at a time. We left at 9:00 in the morning and returned at 3:30 p.m. after a full day of seeing dolphins, snorkeling, BBQ lunch and sailing. We were glad we were on a small boat after seeing some of the other tourist boats doing the same type of tour, packed in like sardines!
We didn’t end up getting to swim with the dolphins as they have very strict rules here in New Zealand. If there is a baby in the pod, if they are acting aggressive, if it is during a certain time of day, you are not allowed to swim with the pod and the one that we found had a baby with them. As well, where we saw the dolphins was in pretty big swell out in the open so I am not sure I wanted to be off the boat in the water at that point anyway! We enjoyed seeing them jump and play around the boat and they stayed with us for quite a while.
They then took us to a small bay near one of the islands, anchored and we went snorkeling while they cooked a BBQ lunch. After a short stay on the island, we raised the sail on the boat and sailed back to Paihia and Russel to end the day. We lucked out on the weather with a beautiful sunny day, in the midst of a few rainy days.
The next day we decided to drive to Cape Reinga. It was raining when we woke up, but we thought that if we were driving 3 hours north on an island that the weather would change at some point. Not so, the rain and the wind shield wipers stayed constant through the 3 hour trip!
Cape Reinga is the very north western tip of New Zealand and Reinga means Underworld in Maori. The Maori believe that the Cape is where the spirits of the dead leap from to enter the underworld. It is also the point where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. One a clear day, unlike the one we had, you can see the blue from the ocean and the green from the sea mixing. On the way to the Cape, there is 90 Mile Beach which is actually only 55 miles long! If you time it right, 3 hours after high tide, you can drive along the beach and there are a lot of tour buses and other people using it as a highway. The car rental companies will not cover you for insurance if you are on Ninety Mile Beach as there have been numerous incidents of cars getting stuck in the Te Paki Quicksand Streams where it takes about 2 months to completely engulf your car. Needless to say, we didn’t attempt it in the Dion!
This seems like an odd thing to blog about but there was a really cool bathroom in the town of KawaKawa.  It was designed by a very famous Austrian named Frederick Hundertwasser.  There is lots of interesting information about him and his Austrian architecture on the internet.  He made New Zealand his second home and helped the town designed these world famous toilets before he died.  The end result has a grass roof, ceramic tiles, bottle glass windows, mosaic tiling, copper handwork, cobblestone flooring, individual sculptures and a living tree all intergrated into the design.  There are no straight lines in the design and his work has been compared to Antoni Gaudi.  KawaKawa sees visitors from all over the world stop to see and use these interesting toilets.
We also stopped in Tutukaka to visit our friend Steve and the weather fined up enough to have a quick swim in the Bay with him and his son. Next stop is the South Island!
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