The Top Bit: Paihea, Cape Reinga and the Bay of Islands

12 12 2011

Item’s I have learned today:

  • Kiwi bus drivers seem to really enjoy spewing out all kinds of crap and hoping that their passengers will believe them.  Jarrod (my first bus driver) decided to share that there had been a major scientific break through on the way up to the bay of islands.  He informed all of us that they had successfully mated sheep with giraffes producing a new species called “sheraffes.” (aka llama’s).  I of course did not fall for at all ahem… cough cough, and DEFINITELY did not gasp when we drove past a llama farm shortly afterwords…. (sigh)

It was up nice and early to catch a 7am bus the day after the Rugby World Cup final in Auckland   I was amazed at how many drunken people were still stumbling around at 7am the following morning… they obviously looked in PRIME form having not actually gone to bed yet.  Amanda and I gathered our belongings and were off.

Auckland - On the way up North

Auckland - On the way up North

Our first destination was Paihea – home of the Waitangi Treaty House and grounds and the Bay of Islands (which consists of over 144 different islands).

According to the New Zealand travel guide – New Zealand was discovered 1000 years ago by the great Polynesian Navigator Kupe who actually landed in this Northern bit and named the country  “Aotearoa.”

Abel Tasman charted the area in 1642 but believed it to be part of Australia, and James Cook came along and gave the bay of islands its present name in 1769.

After checking into our hostel we booked a dolphin seeker boat cruise to “world famous” Hole in the Rock (I have found that  happens a lot here…  everything is “world famous”… although prior to arriving in NZ, I had never actually heard of any of these so called famous things).

The Hole in the Rock

The Hole in the Rock

Paihea is a beautiful little area right on the water. We spent the day relaxing and soaking in the sun.

Orca Whales!

Orca Whales!

The next day was our Dolphin Seeker Tour.  Surprisingly, I have never actually seen a dolphin in the wild before, so I was excited.  I also wanted a chance to see a few more of the 144 islands that I was amongst (some literally looked like they were 5 feet by 5 feet).  As luck would have it, instead of seeing dolphins we saw Orca Whales.  The running joke was that that was why it was called the dolphin “seeker” rather than finder. (ahem.. I didn’t say the joke was actually funny). I wasn’t disappointed though as I really loved seeing the whales.  Apparently when they are out and about, the dolphins go into hiding as the orca’s like to eat them… comforting eh?  The coolest part about it was seeing a mother and a baby orca (unfortunately no pictures were captured).

Whale's and Island's in the distance

Whales and Islands in the distance

We hoped off on one of the islands and wandered around for a little bit. I jumped a fence and chased a few sheep around as I felt the need to be up close and personal.  They’re definitely NOT the best smelling creatures in the world. Did you know that sheep in New Zealand out number people 10 to 1?? So after driving past bizillions, I really wanted to be amongst them. Shut up.. leave me alone.

Sheep :)

Sheep 🙂

On the way back we took the ferry to Russell.  Russell was original once the capital of New Zealand and was known as the “hell hole of the pacific.”   Sailors camped out there back in the day.. meaning that  more taverns and brothels existed back then than any other businesses.  It was known as a lawless and bawdy port but has since been transformed to a quaint historic village.  After a brief detour to Russell (to see the oldest licensed hotel in New Zealand) it was back to Paihea for the evening.

Chilling in Russell

Chilling in Russell

Cape Reinga

This was by far my favorite part of the trip.  Cape Reinga is one of the most spiritual parts of the country for the Maori people. It is where they believe their spirits travel after they pass away and make their journey to their traditional homeland of Haiwaiki.  According to their mythology, their spirits transend the land and pass into the other world through an 800 year old sacred Pohutukawa tree.  As it is so spiritual to them, they ask that you do not consume any food or beverages while there.  I thought it was amazing and was especially thrilled that I could actually see the tree that is so spiritual/sacred to them.

Amanda and I at Cape Reinga

Amanda and I at Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga  is also the northern most tip of the country, it is where the Pacific Ocean and the Abel Tasman see intersect.  I wasn’t expecting to actually be able to tell where the two connected, but you could specifically see the change in the waves/current/color of the two crashing together.

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

Intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea

Intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea

The next stop on the trip was to Te Paki stream to do some sand boarding. For those of you who don’t know what sand boarding it is:  it’s like boogie boarding but instead of with a wave it is down a HUGE freaking sand dune.  Can you tell what an adventurous spirit I have??  I did make myself do it once though, and if I wasn’t so physically out of shape and exhausted by the climb up the dang dune I probably would have done it more.  It was actually pretty  fun.  The only thing that unnerved me was the fact that you had relatively no control of the board as you are going down the hill.  Well that and the fact that a GIANT bee decided to make best friends with me and my hair (yup it decided to make my hair its nest when I struggling up the dune in the first place.  Nothing like sound of giant angry bee buzzing in your freaking ear when your stumbling up sand!)  It then proceeded to NOT leave  me alone at the top (I’m terrified of bees….)  In retrospect though it was probably a good thing, because it forced me to sand board down to escape it! Gotta love how the universe works sometimes 🙂

ANYWAY. After sand boarding we made our drive down 90 mile beach.  Now 90 mile beach is the only state highway in the world that is actually a beach and our bus was properly equipped to drive on it. The ironic thing was that the bus was EXTREMELY bouncy on the roads, jerking pretty much around every corner we took, but on the beach it was an incredibly smooth ride.  90 mile beach isn’t actually 90 miles long, it’s more along the lines of 55 miles. Apparently when travelled on horseback it took about 3 days to do, and horses generally travelled about 30 miles a day.  What whomever named it  negelected to take into consideration was the fact that we travelling on SAND.. which oh.. I don’t know, might possibly slow them down.

Shellfish Action

We stopped for a bit to search for shell fish (which we supposedly going to cook at the hostel in Paihea but Dice – our driver – seemed to forget all about when we got back into town), take a few pics (of apparently the “real version of the hole in the rock” according to Dice, the other one we saw on the dolphin tour was a fake.. drivers here also tend to have a very dry sense of humor, a fact that I kind of like).

After a stop at a “world famous” fish and chip joint it was back on the road to Paihea.  All in all in it was a fantastic day.

The following morning we boarded the bus bright and early to head back to Auckland and begin the next part of the trip.. our way down the North Island.



One response

12 12 2011

Perhaps those orcas traveled in front of you from here in the great Puget Sound!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: