I had the pleasure of travelling to the northern most tip of North Island, New Zealand, in my recent trip to Auckland to visit my friend Aaron. I spent 3 days at Bay of Islands. It was winter and the tourist crowds were non-existent which gave us lots of space in the coach, the ferry, the walkways and the beach. Highlights of the holiday were the trek to the lighthouse at the Cape Reinga, the sand tobogganing down the sand dunes at the 90 Mile Beach, the scenic Russell Mini Tour and the Ferry Cruise to the Bay. Below are some pictures I'd like to share.
This overview map shows the location of Cape Reinga and the 90 Mile Beach where I visited on Day 2. The day started with a light drizzle. I felt like this outdoor event will be a washout especially with strong winds making my umbrella unusable. Thankfully at both locations the drizzle stopped for us to came out of the coach and trekked to the lighthouse as well as sand board down the dune. I felt young doing them. Holding my iPad steady in the wind to take photos and videos is no joke but I'm glad to have captured several memorable pictures.
This is the route our Dune Rider driver Paul took from Paihia (where we stayed for 2 nights at the Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge on Marsden Road, facing the Bay) to Cape Reinga. The width of the narrowest strip is just 8 kilometres.
This picture was taken on the afternoon of Day 1 on our ferry ride from Paihia to Russell, a scenic little town 10 minutes away. Russell had a very notorious history as landing point for European sailors who used it for gambling and prostituting. Today it is a quaint seaside resort where people owns retirement and holiday homes.
I couldn't help exhibiting myself upon reaching the highest spot overlooking the lighthouse. The feeling was too exhilarating to conceal. Behind me are the Tasman Sea joining to the Pacific Ocean on the right. It was extremely windy and the climb up the grassy slope was exhausting. After this picture was taken came the more challenging task of walking cautiously down without falling and hurting myself, which I didn't.
Like an explorer reaching the South Pole I have to pose next to the lighthouse to prove I was there. The iPad was faithfully taking all the holiday pictures and I must confess severely abused through rough handling. If you noticed, the top right corner of the picture was blackened and the reason was in our excitement we didn't realise the lens opening on the iPad case had moved to partially cover it. This affected many of the pictures taken.
I got a fellow tour member to take this picture before I started my sand boarding. The next 20 minutes was a test of my physical health. Climbing up the dune, at some stage angled quite steeply and against strong side winds blowing fine sand into my face, is not an experience I relish. I managed to get to where the others started to sand board down. We were all bare-footed and with our pants rolled up. Lying flat on the foam board, our legs parted and toes dug into the sand, we steered down the slope. Where needed to slow down we dig the toes into the sand, otherwise we just free zoom down to the cheers of those who stayed away from this adventure. I sand boarded twice and deemed it an achievement. Fortunately my heart didn't gave way.
Relaxing on the catamaran on our way out into the Bay of Islands. The ride wasn't as smooth as this picture depict, many a moment I almost puked when the boat pitched quite badly in rough seas. The pilot apologised that due to bad weather condition we won't get to see the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett. She said if we don't mind the risks of losing our breakfast she would take us there. Fortunately none of us on board asked. We also didn't get to spot any dolphins, whales or orcas. The operator gave us complimentary vouchers to try our luck the next time we come to Paihia.
The highlight of the Bay cruise was landing at Urupukapuka Island to take in the scenic view of the Bay. It also gave us an opportunity to see sheep up close and step on their dungs. Fortunately they don't smell as bad and prior to re-boarding the boat we had to clean our shoes on brushes provided.
On top of the Urupukapuka Recreation Reserve Lookout. This panorama picture was captured using an app that auto-stitch several frames. Very nifty. Click picture to see the enlarged view.
Another panorama of the Cable Bay from the lookout point. The dampening skies fail to diminish the majesty of the beauty before us. Click picture for enlargement.
I can't help bringing out my youthful spirit with this John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever pose. This was at the ferry on the Urupukapuka Island before we leave for Paihia.
Finally this is the hotel we stayed. Ooops, by 'we' I mean my travelling partner, TCS, and I. We came to Auckland to visit a very dear friend and decided to enjoy the Bay at the same time. It was a good holiday. But we didn't have good impressions of the airline we used.