Day Three: Bay of Islands and beyond

Set an alarm for 6.30am so we could all meet for breakfast at 7am. Some of the family had been awake since 4am from jet lag so they went to the gym. Others slept for over 12 hours! We had a full breakfast again and Jip and I shared a fruit salad for dessert. All nine of us piled into the HiAce van and made our way up the highway towards the bay of islands. Our first stop was for coffee about an hour into the trip. Jip and I had been sitting in the back of the van and our knees were rubbing against the seats in front so we did a shuffle and ended up towards the front. Whilst waiting for coffee, we climbed a hill behind the coffee trailer and it gave us a great view of the rolling green hills and the bay. Only problem was it was muddy and our shoes were brown by the end of the walk!!

Back in the car, we traveled on to the town of Whangarei and we went to our first supermarket called PakNSave. It’s like a Costco that doesn’t require a membership. We bought some snacks as well as rolls with cheese and ham for lunch at the next stop. The scenery around the north of the island reminded me of Port Douglas with palm trees and mild climate crossed between the Dandenong ranges with the winding roads and fernery. We have seen a mix between sheep and cows in paddocks. I expected more sheep!

We stopped for lunch in the town of KeriKeri and it was very picturesque. There was a little stone cottage that has been a general store for the area continuously since 1838 as well as a missionary. The sun was shining and was warm but when the wind kicked in, it became very unpleasant.

The township of Kaitaia was our fuel stop before heading to the coast. Petrol was $2.20 and diesel $1.59. Thankfully the HiAce van is diesel! There were many twists and turns along the way and we encountered a few single lane bridges before coming to a guy on a quad bike. Little did we know, around the next bend was his herd of cows in the middle of the road!! After traveling all day, we finally made it to Cape Reinga just before sunset. It was bitterly cold in the wind but was worth the walk down to the lighthouse. The landscape was so beautiful and the views of the surrounding beaches I have never seen before - large green, luscious hills with cliff faces down to the white caps of the waves.

We all stood on top of the nearest hill (that almost killed me climbing it) and watched the sun set where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. On the way back, it was starting to get dark but we had just enough light to detour to the Te Paki sand dunes. Massive sand dunes that start the 90 mile beach. Unfortunately we couldn’t touch the sand dunes as there was a creek running along it but it was worth the 3km drive! Our accomodation tonight is in Kaitaia at a B&B. On arrival we couldn’t see much as it was really dark but the owner was friendly. He recommended a restaurant up the road and because on the way in, we didn’t see many eateries besides McDonald’s, we decided to check it out. The menu consisted of steak, snapper and curry. It was pretty average.

I walked back to the accommodation with Eva and Wytske as we were tired and have another early morning start ahead of us.