Tree hugging, gurt big beaches, dodgy coaches, new friends, sand, sun and…parasailing!

Re-winding to 23 April now, and on my second week in New Zealand, the Easter weekend was over, and the rellies were back to their normal routine, i.e. work. I needed to have some fun, and so I spontaneously booked a trip with Stray. This trip was called Murphy. That however is completely irrelevant, as it gives nothing away or does it tell you anything on the wee adventure that I went on. This, this is where my writing fills you in…

I headed back to Auckland on the Wednesday, via a very full coach, courtesy of InterCity and caught up with some of my fellow travellers from Bunac. My new found friend Hannah was coming with me on Murphy, so we had a quick catch up, she filled me in on what the group had been up since I’d been spending time down on the family land in Te Kauwhata, then I hit the hay. We had a very early start the next morning… to be downstairs on Queen St. for 7.30am. What made this even more joyous (there isn’t a font that goes by the name ‘Sarcasm’, so hopefully you found a sense of that in there), we were obviously staying in the backpackers, so the early start was guaranteed to be after a shockingly shitty nights sleep.

Thursday morning, 7.20am to be precise, and we were checked out of the hostel, and sitting on the street like the hobo’s we had become. The deserted streets I should add. It was early in the morning, and there really aren’t as many early commuters as you’d have thought. Forty minutes later (great start, the driver was delayed) the tour guide / driver came walking up the street to greet us, and tell us we had to pick up all our bags and carry them to the bus. Yes, okay, so he was late, BUT – he was easy on the eye, so I was very quickly thinking what a beautiful Thursday morning it was (yes, fickle).

There were 3 other gals on the bus, and that was it, we were the five adventurers soon on our way to the Northland part of New Zealand!! Roooooaaaad trip!

Departing Auckland, it was nice to set off and explore the new scenery, of the non city variety. Mr Hottie McDrive also had a great taste in music; no Coldplay in ear shot. First stop en-route was Parry Kauri Forest Park, where we participated in some tree hugging. I could do with some of that now to be honest. The reason for this operation was due to these trees being some of the world’s mightiest, the native Kauri: McKinney and Simpson. For some information on these guys, click here. Once our souls had been enriched with the power of tree love, we continued on our way.

Next stop, Goat Island, a scenic reserve. A tiny one at that, just 2.5 acres. A hotspot for divers. Apparently. Caught up with some seagulls here. No goats tho.

On with the drive, a good hour or two, and then we stop at Whangarei – the northernmost city in NZ. The regional capital even, of the Northland Region. And daaaang, did the sun make an appearance. We were here for 20 minutes and my freckles were-a-bursting! It was gorgeous. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get to our final destination if the weather was gunna be like this!

A wee bit later, and we’re here: Paihia, Bay of Islands!

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We check in, to our hostel (mmhmm, hostel) and Hannah and I head straight to the beach. Bearing in mind it’s now closer to 4pm, and it’s Autumn, so it don’t last long. The sun’ll be heading down, and we’ve another early start tomorrow – 7am! So we decide to chill in the room, where we meet another roommate, Tom. Fellow Englishman. Fellow Stray Traveller. Fellow potty mind. Then 7pm, and the heavy eyelids are alerted open, when we’re informed the beast of a BBQ is open. Steak, sausage, salad and COLESLAW, along with a crisp cold pint (all for the sweet as cost of $10) is inhaled, then belched out. An early night takes hold.

Day trip day: 7am start. No comment.

A nice air conditioned empty full size coach, we’re on board and about to begin our day long (was a long’un I tell ee) adventure to the top of New Zealand.  First stop was the Manginangina Kauri Walk. Now, read that word again, but cover the last five letters, just for fun mind. Manginangina.

All aboard and en route through Kaitaia to the West Coast and Ninety Mile Beach (which is actually 64 miles long). We drove on the sand and through the surf until we reachd Tepaki Stream, where we actually realised that underneath the bus had been damaged and we were lucky to have made it! No concern there then aye…#gulp. Also whilst here, some of New Zealand’s biggest sand dunes. What with my 90 year old back, I didn’t opt for the surfing, but enjoyed watching, and listening to the screeches of my fellow travellers enjoying just that.

Back on the coach, and next stop: Cape Reinga. With stunning weather, beautiful blue sky, and the proof that there is no o-zone layer round these parts of the world with the skin feeling the warmth of the sun – instantly! Shame to be on a coach all day when the weather is like this, so we made the most of this 45 minute stop, and lapped up the warmth, as well as the views.

I’ve been to this part of the country when I’ve been to this part of the world in the past, and yet, not just because this was the warmest visit, the meeting of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean still takes my breathe away. It’s just SO cool! A strip of wave going through the middle of the water, and the different colours, it’s just, well to me, pretty darn awesome!

Begrudgingly we then had to hop back on the bus, and continue our journey, obviously heading back South. We all breathed a sigh of relief that the coach was actually still running, what with the near explosion incident on the beach earlier today. NB. Wasn’t near explosion, I exaggerated just slightly. A smidge.

Next stop, Mangonui. The home of New Zealand’s best fish and chips shop. According to all NZers. However, the fish, I agree, well freakin’ tasty. The chips however, pull the other one. These were probably the worst chip shop chips I’ve ever treated my tastebuds too. AND, they wanted to charge you for vinegar. SAY WHAAAT! Luckily, Tom had given us a heads up on this the evening before, so having the right amount of funds in my hand for the meal, I declined on the offer of sauces and other such like. Charge for vinegar…whatever next. If that happened back in the UK, there would be a right uproar, I tell ya that for nothing!

Day 3 – a boat trip around the Bay of Island. A wet boat trip at that. Yesterday’s weather was just too kind. Today however, cheeky fecker. It was grey and moist for the duration of that ruddy boat road. The rain now the most annoying matter of the day mind you, oh no. Tourists. The Captain shouts out “DOLPHINS” and well bugger me, I nearly got murdered by elbows! Sheesus. Talk about mentalists. I think I caught sight of one or two, other than that it was just screechy noises, ooos and aaahs, then pointy fingers right in my eye socket and elbows in my ribs. Joyous, as you can tell. Besides checking out all the islands, another key point to see during this trip, was the Hole in the Rock. Not just see it, but sail through it, I KNOW! It’s the little things. Anyway, it was nice to see all the island, but Hannah and I were both happy to be back on dry land. Fellow passengers free.

A quick hours chill, and later that afternoon…duh duh duuuuuuuuuuh. A Parasail!! HELL YES! 1,200 feet up in the air, for a full 12 minutes, and Hannah and I got to enjoy a moist and ting of grey view of Paihia. It was really chilled. We both described it as being sat on a park bench, just up in the air. You don’t even feel like you’re moving, literally, just floating. Was fab!! Check out the pics. Why not aye.

All in all, a good few days away. The Sunday, day of returning to the city ways of Auckland, was fab, Hannah and myself, along with some new friends, just chilled on the beach after check out, stocked up on L&P, ate food and just took it all in. Then, before we knew it, back on the vehicle heading south. Thanks for having me Northland, you were top notch! xxx


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