Bay of Islands
A large part of my personality is honesty, so I need to be honest when I say I was a little bit underwhelmed by the Bay of Islands in New Zealand… so many people told me ‘you have to go there’, ‘it’s amazing, you will love it’ and maybe that was the start of the problem. I really just felt that I didn’t get to see enough of the islands, even though I went out for a whole day on two different boats. This isn’t a negative post, I did have a really good time, but it just wasn’t as amazing as I expected. I also think it is because I am a big lover of Scottish Islands and to me, the islands that I saw didn’t really compare and I can’t really figure out why. On a Scottish Island, particularly off the west coast, you get white sandy beaches, clear blue sea and there is just something really special, maybe because not all of Scotland or the UK is like this but New Zealand IS like this.
But moving on to the positive part- after a massive day of sitting on buses or waiting on buses I arrived in Paihia from Coromandel. My hostel was lovely because it had single beds and great outdoor space. The first day I took a walk to the Haruru Falls, gosh it was a boring and long walk, all through forest and you couldn’t even see a river for most of it. There were two things of interest however, a Mangrove Forest which is a forest that thrives in areas that are swap like and often under water, so the roots of the trees rather than going down into the ground, push up to above the water level. I’ve never seen anything like that before. The second point of interest was watching nesting Cormorant birds with their young (notice how I haven’t mentioned the falls).
The next day I’d booked to go on a Dolphin Sail Adventure with Explore NZ, now I had booked this weeks a go and had done lots of exciting things in between so I couldn’t really remember what I’d signed up for but I merrily went on my way to where I was meeting the boat. The day started with a dolphin cruise and the possibility of swimming with them IF they weren’t feeding or with young, both of which happened with the pods we saw so no swimming. But WOW seeing these wild, graceful mammals in their natural habitat was amazing. I have always thought that as much as I like animals I am not exactly and animal lover, but seeing these animals in the wild, WOW! They jumped and dived, swam under our boat and it was just super. The island scenery was lovely but you couldn’t take your eyes off these creatures. Sadly my camera ran out of batter after seeing the first pod. I am so grateful to a really lovely girl that I met, that she shared her photos with me.
After a tea stop- yes a tea stop on a boat, New Zealand is awesome, I jumped aboard a small yellow dingy to start my second adventure of the day- Sail. I thought this meant a boat trip maybe to the famous ‘hole in the rock’ or some other Bay of Islands attraction, oh no, we were actually sailing a world famous and second place round the world sailing boat called Lion New Zealand. I was impressed. I liked having a nose around the hull, seeing where people would have slept, gone to the toilet and cooked their meals. We had a picnic lunch and a lovely swim in the cove that the boat was anchored in. The crew- me and our fellow passengers plus two actual paid crew, hit the open sea. We got to grind the sails requiring a lot of arm muscle and speed to pull the sail up or down but also deal with the wind conditions. We each got a chance to steer the boat but also relax and enjoy the company and the view.
During my time in New Zeland I had met one other Scottish person travelling, on the Dolphin Sail Adventure I met 3! It was nice to sit and talk to people who understand what you are saying 100% of the time, even when you use slang or very Scottish words. In the UK this has never bothered me, but since being away and it doesn’t happen very often it was nice. It was a really nice day and I enjoyed coming back to the hostel and sharing my photos and stories with a lovely family that I had met. The young boy and girl, were so enthusiastic about their world trip (at 7 and 5, lucky ducks) with their parents and hearing about what I’d been doing it was lovely.
On my last full day in the Bay of Islands, I took a bus trip to Cape Reinga, a place I’d been told about by another traveler Marianne, where the two seas surrounding New Zealand join- Tasman and Pacific Ocean. To get to this wonderful place we drove along 90 mile beach, it was super and such a cool thing to do, we sand boarded down a massive sand dune and I made friends with some really nice girls, who sadly we have lost touch, no email addresses, facebook or phone numbers, but I guess that is part of the fun of travelling, spontaneous friendships that only survive the activity and that’s enough.
Cape Reinga was beautiful and I really liked being in the most northern part of New Zealand when I had been to the most southern part in Invercargill. The joining of the seas was really impressive too because there is a definite line, not a straight line, but you can see two sets of waves crashing together from different angles and the seas are different colours. It was really special and something I am really glad I’ve seen.
Julie’s photo 🙂
One of mine before my camera died
In a bus on a beach!
The view looking down to Cape Reinga