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Day 3: Bay of Islands and Uretiti

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Friday, 02 April, 2010:

Sleep was interesting last night.  I slept great for a few hours, but then all of a sudden I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep for the life of me.  So what does a rational person do?  I went outside!  It was cold, but I bundled up in my sleeping bag and stayed warm.  I was able to sprawl out on the ground, and I slept really well until about 5 am when I felt a few raindrops.  I decided then to go back inside.

Puriri Bay campsite

The first campsite I stayed at. Located on the Whangaruru North Head, the campsite is the first DOC campsite I found that was busy enough to (usually) require advanced booking.

Dogs Kill Kiwi

The Kiwi is almost a mythical bird--it's the national icon of New Zealand, and yet it's nearly impossible to catch a glimpse of one. They only come out at night, and even then, it's rare.

I went for a short walk around the campsite in the morning.  Went through a small field, but I left when I found out it was a private farm.  I got in my car and headed up the windy road to Russell.  There wasn’t much to the town, but I did see some historic landing site and a nice beach.

Rocky Bay

I really wanted to swim out to that rock and climb up it, but didn't because the water was cold.

Flowers of the Mast

Flowers in front of the flagstaff on Flagstaff Hill in Russell. The flagstaff has historical significance in the early relations between the Maori and the British colonials. Originally erected as a sign of peace, it was chopped down a few times when the Maori became unhappy with the relationship.

Once you got to Russell, you either have to drive the 1.5 hours of windy road back to the main highway or take a ferry over to Paihia.  So, I caught the car ferry from Okiato for $10.  It’s funny, because the town of Okiato doesn’t really exist except for the ferry.  I was driving, and all of a sudden the road ended at the water, and you drove up on the ferry–no warning.

Car Ferry

The car ferry between Okiato and Opua in the Bay of Islands. Both are minor towns outside of the two major towns in the area (Russell and Paihia). Either way, it was the first time I've ever taken a car on a ferry. You just drove to the end of the road and right up onto the ferry.

The Old Boat and Chain

View from the car ferry.

From there I worked my way back down Highway 1 towards Auckland, planning to stop at the Uretiti Beach campsite.  I took it slow, stopping a few places, including at the Wangerei Falls in Wangerei.  Families were picnicing and people were swimming, so I hung around for a bit, eating lunch, reading, and taking pictures of the falls.

Wangerei Falls

The waterfall just outside of Wangerei up in Northland.

Under the Bridge

Bridge allowing access to the pool at the bottom of the Wangerei Falls

I got to Uretiti, another campsite with a gate.  It was crowded, but I managed to find a spot really close to the beach.  I read on the beach for a little while until it got dark and then got to sleep.

Long Beachline

Uretiti Beach

Shell

On the beach

Full Set: North Island Trip

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Day 2: Northland

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Thursday, 01 April, 2010:

That was the worst sleep of my life.  The room was extremely hot and stuffy.  People were walking in and out continuously until about 3 am.  But mostly my mind was racing, nervous.  I kept going over all these strange scenarios.  (“Ok, if I move the covers this way, my friends will talk to me again.”)  My mind does that when I get stressed, and it bugs me to no end.  Around 4 am, I finally had the sense to use the bathroom, get a drink, and rinse my face–just enough to reset myself and get great sleep until 9:00.

I grabbed some coffee from a little shop by my hostel and read The Lost World for a while.  I tried calling my credit card company to find out why my card was being declined.  After lots of hassle, I found that because I paid “too much” (so I would have full use for my trip), they put my card on hold and “it may take a few days for the payment to go through.”  Just wonderful.

Rolling Hills

I could just see Lord of the Rings everywhere I looked.

I got my car at noon, a Nissan Sunny.  No CD player (which I was told there would be), so I’m glad I didn’t go out of my way to burn some CDs.

Adjusting to driving this time was easy, since I already drove so much in the South Island.  So easy, in fact, that I’m a bit worried how I might do when I get back to the States and the right side of the car (and the left side of the road).

I took Route 1 into Northland, up towards the Bay of Islands.  I took some backroads to avoid a toll.  (A New Zealand toll means $2, and you pay by phone or Internet at your own convenience.  Still, I took the backroads for the scenery as much as anything.)  I ended up stopping in a small town to buy a cassette adapter for my iPod since my FM transmitter that I bought sucks.  (I’m going to return it.)  I also picked up some food for the week (PB&J, bread, avocados, tomatoes, tuna, baked beans, and canned spaghetti.)  Yay cold food!

Branch

The branches around here hung out pretty far, but were still strong. It could easily hold my weight, and made a pretty comfortable seat.

Stopped on a beach, my first real “Yes, I’m in nature!” moment.  It really helped free me from the stress I had earlier.  Talked to Kat and Lena (not at the same time) while I walked barefoot in the sand.

Feet

This was the first beach I've been to in a while that had real sand (instead of pebbles), and it was some of the finest sand I've ever felt.

I passed up the campground I was going to stay at for one urther north, thinking I could make it there before sunset; I couldn’t.  I ended up on a very windy backroad in the rain and dark.  It wasn’t terrible, but certainly not my first choice either.

Tree Lined Road

The trees along the side of the road were beautiful.

I ended up at Puriri Bay on the Whangaruru North Head.  I pulled up and noticed a small security stand and a locked gate.  This was way different from any of the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites we stayed in the South.  Down south, you pulled up, put some money in a box on the honor system, and picked a spot.  This one locked the gate over night (so I was lucky they were still open) and assigned you a specific lot.  I got a nice lot on the beach, so I could hear the waves crash over night and see them in the morning.

Beach Lines

The entire beach was lined with these water marks. I've seen them before, but I still don't understand how these mini-deltas are formed.

I settled down, ate my cold spaghetti (not bad, but not at all filling), cleaned up, and went to sleep.

Full Set: North Island Trip