Queen's Birthday Weekend

Trip Start Aug 13, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, May 31, 2008

This weekend was another long weekend, thanks to the Queen's birthday being a public holiday, so it was time for another getaway, this time to Bay of Islands, which is north of Auckland. We both left work a couple of hours early and headed to the airport to catch a flight up to Auckland, which only takes 1hr.

From the airport we caught a courtesy bus to Jet Park Hotel where our hire car had been left, as we arrived outside the office hours. After, walking round the car park in the dark for a few minutes we finally located our car and headed off northwards to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands.

3hrs or so later we arrived at our hotel, Paihia Pacific Resort Hotel. As we arrived just outside reception hours, they had left an envelope sellotaped to the door. This seems to be commonplace in NZ as we had the same thing when we went to do the Tongariro Crossing.

On Saturday after a lie in as we were quite tired from the drive up, we drove into Paihia centre for some breakfast. We couldn't quite believe how fantastic the weather was. We sat outside eating our food, and when you think that 31st May over here is the equivalent of 30th November in the UK, you certainly wouldn't be dining al fresco back home. The skies were blue, the sun was blazing, the temperature was 22 deg and we didn't have a care in the world. This was true bank holiday weather and behaviour, not a DIY tool in sight.

After a visit to the i-site to get some ideas for the day, we decided to drive to Waitangi. We've actually been to Waitangi before, and last time we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6th February in 1840. However, this time we decided to miss out the Treaty Grounds and went on a walk from Waitangi to Haruru Falls, which means 'big noise' - a name which was very apt. This is a 5km walk each way but fairly easy. Unfortunately I kept stopping to take photos so it took us a bit longer than it should have done.

After returning from our walk we grabbed a bit of lunch and then caught the ferry to Russell, which used to be known as Kororareka, which is a little town across the water from Paihia, and takes 20 mins to get there. From the ferry landing, we walked up to the top of Flagstaff Hill. Russell used to be the capital of New Zealand but after the signing of the Treaty, the Governor at the time, William Hobson, fell out with both Maori and local settlers and moved his capital progressively further south.

Around the same time the Confederation of Tribes flag that flew at the top of Flagstaff hill was replaced by the Union Jack and this didn't go down too well with the Maori of the area. Between July 1844 and March 1845 the flagstaff was cut down 4 times, however the current flagpole has been there since 1857.

The walk takes about 20 mins each way, and the views from the top are well worth the steep climb. There is also a sundial with a pretty mosaic pattern on the base. We wandered slowly back down the hill, stopping to look at some funky orange flowers, then caught the ferry back to Paihia.

In the evening it was the Super 14 rugby final, between Crusaders and Waratahs, so we walked from our hotel into the town centre and had a meal at 35 South, a funky bar/restaurant with a huge aquarium in the middle.

After a good feed and some cocktails we went back to the hotel to watch the 2nd half of the rugby, as we had the luxury of sky sports in the room, and then it was off to bed ready for the tour we had booked for the next day.
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