The Road North
04.01.2014 - 06.01.2014 21 °C
Auckland - Paihia (232 km/144m)
Annoyingly, Jucy (our car rental company) did not have anything available for collection from their city centre offices, so it meant we had to make our way back out to the airport to collect it.
We had opted for the car they called El Cheapo which is basically their cheapest car, not because it is small, but because they are normally over 5 years old with more than 200,000kms on the clock, but needs must! It would have been great to have hired a campervan for the whole time, but they were SO expensive, so we had to settle for our Nora instead!
After a mountain of paperwork, we were on the road heading north to Northland and an area called the Bay of Islands were we were planning on spending two nights.
We stopped for lunch after about 3 hours in Whangarai - we ate in the car park - the glamour! The drive went through some incredible scenery from rugged coastline and pristine beaches to rolling hill and forest covered mountains.
We made it to Paihia about 16:00, checking into Peppertree Lodge Backpackers which seemed nice enough and was only a 2 minute walk to the beach. I was shattered due to driving most of the way and not getting any sleep the night before so while I had a quick nap, Nick hit the beach for a tan-top-up in the surprisingly warm evening sunshine.
Once I woke up, I found Nick sprawled on the beach and after a quick TI stop (or i-SITE) we went for a beer at a really nice bar on the jetty in the last of the days sunshine.
After a brilliant nights sleep (hurrah!), we had a bit of a lay-in (until 10:00), knowing we were not in a rush to get anywhere. We had decided at the TI the previous day that all of the tour / cruise options to actually get out into the Bay of Islands were just too expensive (the cheapest being NZ$99 / £50 each!) - the weather had also clouded over too, so we were quite glad we hadn’t booked anything!
We did however jump on the ferry over to Russell on the opposite site of the bay. It was really pretty and much smaller than Paihia and had a really nice atmosphere to it.
We had already read that there was some mini hikes to some lookout points so in only our flip-flops we did the very steep 20 minute climb to the top of Flagstaff Hill to be rewarded with some amazing views over the bay!
Strangely the weather seemed to be completely different on this side and we were in bright sunshine again - being unprepared Nick’s nose went pink!! We walked down a different way, passing an elderly couple (80 and 73!) who were taking their daily hike up the hill and putting us to shame, before taking a detour down to Waithia Bay. This would have been a tiny deserted sandy beach, however we had not realised it was high tide! A quick scramble over the rocks though and we at least got to stand on it! Haha!
Walking back along the bush walk to Russell beach we stopped for a much needed cold drink and sat on a bench watching people jump off the pier. It was now time to leave this small sleepy town and head back to Paihia.
We arrived back just in time to see a free show in the park and the sand castle competition.
Both were really good and a great way to end our day before heading back to make dinner and do more research.