Monday 3 March 2008 - Tuesday 4 March 2008 21 °C
We’d left geo thermal active ‘Rotovegas’ bright and early (9:30am) to head northward. No clue how far we’d get but we knew we wanted to get to Bay of Islands district at some point. We did get through Auckland and started thinking about maybe staying in Orewa or maybe Waiwera. Rolling through those towns and it still being early in the afternoon, the prospect of Leigh, a place that was highly recommended to us and in the guide books as well seemed a good choice. However, with the low overcast and rain that had been falling all day suggested that the full beauty of this spot wouldn’t be enjoyed, so we pressed on further. Whangarei (pronounced ‘Fan-garee’, notice that they didn’t follow their own rules regarding ‘ng’?) was next up on the map and proved to be a great place. We stopped at the travelers’ info office and spoke with a lovely young lady named Alin who gave us some great suggestions for where to stay. We ended up in this homestay (B&B) at the top of a hill overlooking the yachts in the town’s harbour. The proprietor Ann recommended a great restaurant at the harbour overlooking all the boats, so we walked along the waterfront, in through the front door of this eatery and was greeted by this lovely young lady named Alin… the same one that helped us earlier at the information center. What were the odds?
Whangarei has a natural port that many of the world cruising set stay in during the hurricane season. Boats are generally 50’+ and you can easily pick out the liveaboards.
In the morning, the skies were even more rain laden than the previous day. The Bay of Islands was only 70km further north, so the guide book had suggested that a scenic drive out to Whangarei Heads would be of interest. Indeed, Alison and I could see that coves and bays would be very picturesque… in the sunshine, but we could hardly see more than a few 100 feet through the rain. Oh well, the weather’s the weather and we’ve made a note that we’ll do this loop on the southbound trip to Auckland to catch our flight (or maybe we’ll need to make another trip back to ZLand).
Our next stop was Whangarei Falls, which the Lonely Planet lists as the most photographed falls in all of New Zealand. We’d slipped on our jumpers and wellingtons and grabbed out brollies and tramped the track around the falls. No worries, good on ya, mate. And we’re not yankin’ your chain. (Translation: We put on sweaters and boots, took the umbrellas and walked around the circular footpath at the falls. Totally enjoyable. No shit.) We’re starting to get the hang of their Kiwi lingo… we think (hope).
Ok… the guide book also suggested another most photoed spot that we needed to see. These were the pride of the town of Kawakawa. They were of their public loo (lew/lou/lue/loow???). Yes, we are talking about their toilets. They pride themselves mightily. Now they were designed by a fellow named Hundertwasser who was a noted world artist and eco architect. Actually, they were worth the visit that we needed to pay them. First opportunity that Alison and I have had to actually and legally p… on art, although we quite liked what he had created.
Next, with the rain still falling, we rolled into Paihia in the Bay of Islands. This is the region that most visitors coming to Zland expect to see since it is the most photographed region in New Zealand. Are you finally getting the theme? Stopping at the info center by the water indicated that the rain was expected to continue until Thursday and since today is Tuesday, we squeezed back into our Getz and continued yet further north to Doubtless Bay so that we could do the 90 Mile Beach adventure tomorrow.
See, we’ll be sitting in this big wheeled vehicle with 8 other new to be made friends and travel up the west coast beach to Cape Reinga. The distance isn’t actually 90 miles, but more like 90km. The name giver must have been an early advocate of the metric system, just didn’t know his conversions or units very well. And from what we’ve been told, they’ll drive up the beach on what’s called ‘State Highway 1F’ although it’s only sand and dunes all the way. No rental cars allowed. Could you just picture getting our Getz stuck in the sand and then having it float out to sea on the next high tide? That ought to be good story, trying to explain why the NZ coast guard is searching for their car.
Tonight, we tramped (gotta love their choice of words) over to the Mangonui Fish Shop for their fish and chips. See, they’re world famous and most photographed too.