Day 1: A few days after arriving in Auckland we both decided that we needed to get out of the city and start exploring. We studied a map of New Zealand’s North Island, at the same time scanned through every book and leaflet that we collected since our arrival. We decided quickly that we would head northwards, to the coastal town of Paihia in the Bay of Islands. We booked ourselves a couple of seats on the Manabus. Being a New Zealand equivalent of the UK’s Megabus it was pretty cheap, around £15 each, not so bad considering we booked for early the next morning. The journey took about four and a half hours and we were dropped off right at the doorstep of the Tourist Information office, or iSite as it called over here. We ask the woman inside for the cheapest and closest place to pitch a tent and we are directed 500m down the road to a backpacker hostel called the Pickled Parrot. A night at Pickled Parrot cost us 11 pound each. Slightly higher than what we normally pay for a camping spot but this place looked like a nice one. It had a very cosy and relaxed atmosphere, everything was very clean, WIFI was free and breakfast included every morning as long as the kitchen was cleaned properly the night before. For the rest of the day we use the remaining time to buy food, walk through the small town centre and get to know our fellow travellers at the hostel.
Day 2: Toast, jam, cornflakes and milk were the options for breakfast. It might not sound like the best breakfast in the world, but for us, it was a luxury to sit on a soft sofa and enjoy a cup of instant coffee while the sun flickered through the trees. Not long after, we decided to do a small, day hike that involved walking along beaches, through dense forests, taking a small car ferry over across the bay and finishing in the town of Russel. One of Russel’s biggest attractions is a flagstaff that sit on top of a hill looking over the town. In short, the flag staff was first erected by the British in 1840 to claim their new territory but was then hacked down by the Maori. This was repeated a total of six times until 1913.
Day 3: Full of energy and happy that we had one more day left in Paihia, we decided to walk to the beach and hire a double kayak and explore a few islands. It didn’t start so well. We were against the current and the timing of our strokes was well off, but we keep at it and kept the arguments to a minimum until we made it to an isolated beach on the backside of one of the islands. We were told before we set off that the beach was one for the nudists, but luckily for us, we had it all to ourselves. Day three finished in the best possible way when we had our first restaurant dinner of the trip, kindly sponsored by Frida’s Dad and step Mother, who thought we deserved to treat ourselves to a proper meal. Tack!!
Paihia is a lively, tropical beach town and a great spot to hang for a few days. It’s very touristy, which isn’t always a good thing. But this means that there are plenty of things to do if you don’t mind splashing the cash, from scuba diving, to swimming with dolphins, to paragliding. The Town itself consists of many souvenier shops, a small supermarket, post office, library, restaurants, activity-booking stalls and a golden sandy beach, of course.