Paihia on the Bay of Islands

Trip Start Oct 04, 2006
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Trip End Mar 06, 2007


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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We are here for four days.

We actually spent one night  in Auckland between Whitianga and Paihia.  It was non-eventful and we will be spending three more days after Paihia and before we travel to Singapore.  Also, we went to Waitomo on route to Auckland for a visit to some glow-wormm caves.  This is a set of caves with, wait for it, glow-worms.  They are worms that hang from the ceiling of the caves and glow to attract insects to eat.  They also hang down sticky strands to get the insects to stick to, then pull the strands up, eat, and set down another strand.  With artificial light, the strands can be seen and they are amazing.  The thousands of glowing worms are light green and it looks like star constellations when looking up.  It is also amazing.

I went on a walking tour followed by a short boat ride in the caves and it was interesting.  Lisa did a black-water inner tube through her caves in a wet suit, helmet and with a light on the helmet (www.caveworld.co.nz).  I was going to do this, however, I had a chicken pie and got a mild case of food poisoning.  Great.  I should stick to cow or non-animal.  Lisa had fun, but she thought that it was a bit over-priced ($85).  My 35 minute tour was $26 and there were a lot of noisy kids with me.

This town is a tourist town and full of a lot of beach area and access to lots of water sports and a lot of other islands, since it is the Bay of Islands area.  We took a ferry across the bay to Russel and went on a nice, simple hike up to a lookout and down and around some sandy and rocky beaches.

The next day, Friday, we went on a full day bus tour to Cape Reinga and 90-Mile Beach.  The most amazing thing about this tour was that we got to see where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet!  It was incredible.  There was a line of waves leading out to sea where waves from each sea/ocean were smashing into the other!  I couldn't believe it, although I eventually did believe it.  This is also the most northern point of NZ that can be reached via a vehicle.  A point a few kilometers east is 2km further north.

We stopped at a huge sand dune, got some slippery boogie boards and slid down the steep side towards a small river.  I made it across the river and managed to jump up before hitting our bus.  It was lots of fun.  You can steer with your toes and also slow down, but after the first time, I went full tilt.  I enjoyed this considerably.

The bus then drove for about 80km along the 90-Mile Beach being careful about the tides and rogue waves.  It was fun.  The bus driver found some live Tua Tua (basically mussels) in the shells and Lisa ate one!  She will do anything.  It was interesting watching the Tua Tua.  When they are picked up and placed back down, they partially ooze out of their shell and sort of dig into the water.  This tips them over and they start digging more to get buried in the sand.  Nice, and Lisa ate one of these poor souls.

On Saturday, we went on a 5 hour hike for about 17km, up to a ridge, across it and down to the coast line.  We then followed the coast back to Paihia.  It was great, but a bit tiring.  The forest near the coast was dense and beautiful.  This may be our last hike for at least a few days or until we get to Thailand.  Our legs are a little sore today, so our set of Thai massages should be very helpful.

On Tuesday, New Zealander's are celebrating Waitaingi Day.  This commemorates the signing of the Maori and British peace treaty, signed on February 6, 1840.  This just happend to take place in Waitaingi which is the next to Paihi.  It is about 2km from here, so we walked there after our hike and saw an exhibit.  It showed the history between the Maori and the British that led up to the treaty, as well as the situations after the treay.  It was interesting.
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