From Chalet Chevron@Parnell, Auckland
The Bay of Islands holiday started slow on June 4. The morning drive to Paihia was uneventful. We stopped by Parry Kauri Park to see the second largest surviving tree in the world, the Kauri tree. At Paihia we learned about the history of New Zealand from the historic Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840 between the Maoris and the British government and the culture of the Maori people who was, prior to arrival of the Europeans, the majority, but is now a minority race in its country. The Maoris themselves were not indigenous to New Zealand for they had came from Polynesia.
The June 5 trip to the northern most point of North Island, Cape Reinga, capped the tour. Although the day begun gloomily, and continued to remain so with non stop drizzle, except for the breaks we prayed for and was answered, we have never enjoyed ourselves this much. The adventure brought back memories of our school days. CS was go-go when the coach arrived Cape Reinga parking ground. We are to walk a distance to the Cape, where visitors are wowed by the merging waves of the Tasman Sea on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right. It was absolutely windy and more than once I was nearly blown off my feet. Carrying my iPad to take pictures and videos I struggled between shooting and standing in the wind.
Where the walkway began a natural pathway up an incline challenged us and CS beckoned to me to take it. I accepted the challenge and followed. Now I have to deal with a third element, walking steadily up and down the slope. I remembered my knees are weak. Fortunately the soil and grass weren't slippery in spite of their wetness. We got to the iconic lighthouse at the Cape and spent several minutes savoring the sights. We praised and thank God for stopping the drizzle just as we arrived and amazingly soon after the coach left for our next destination it drizzled again!
As if being physical at the Cape wasn't enough for two kids aged 64 the next activity at the Ninety Mile Beach was one I had to think hard to participate or not. The drizzle had again subsided for us to get off the coach. The activity was sand tobogganing down a sand dune using a surf board. Honestly I've never done that in my life. I asked should I embarked on this stressful exercise? Firstly I have to climb up a steep sand dune with the surf board in hand against strong winds blowing fine sand across my way. Secondly I have to learn how to balance and steer the board as it speed down the dune. I decided I am not too old to miss this opportunity and throw caution to the winds. I prayed to God for protection from injuries.
As I came down the first slide I felt energized and seeing CS move up again I followed although I was heaving and panting. My second slide was from a lower level but an achievement nonetheless. As I reentered the coach, my pants sandy and feet dirty, I beamed victoriously that I did now what I should have done 45 years ago.
The final day of the tour is to Cape Brett to view the Hole in the Rock but has to be aborted due to choppy waters there. We also didn't managed to spot any dolphins, orcas or whales. I wasn't disappointed as I've seen lots of the pictures on the Internet. Compared to Halong Bay cruise, this was rough. I mean rough by my standard that I had to stay quiet when the catamaran was rolling and pitching to avoid throwing up. Thankfully we didn't have a real breakfast, just muffin and coffee, so my stomach had nothing to give.
The highlight of the cruise was at Urupukapuka Island, the largest in the Bay where we spent an hour climbing up to the the Lookout and viewing the Bay and surrounding sights. The path was littered with sheep dung which dirtied our shoes that we have to clean up before we re-board the ship.
We returned to Auckland and to our Chalet Chevron hotel at 8pm and after freshening up re-visited our good friend Aaron and his family who served us dinner. We had so much to talk that we are forced to tear ourselves away after 11.30 so that Aaron can rest. We thank God for the marvelous ways the many events had turned up.