Wednesday, February 7, 2007

We left Auckland on Monday morning and headed north to the Bay of Islands, where Zane Grey came to fish in the 1920’s.  We took a side trip around Whangarei Heads, a very scenic area of beaches.  The road ended at Ocean Beach, which is on the Pacific.  We arrived in Paihia around mid-afternoon and checked into our room.  It is called the Garden Suite for good reason--there is a wonderful garden right outside our windows.  Tuesday was Waitangi Day in New Zealand, an important national holiday celebrating the birth of the country.  A treaty was signed on February 6th, 1840 between the British and the native Maori.  Today there were large crowds celebrating the event at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, just a few minutes drive from Paihia.  We had hoped to see the annual launching of the war canoe, but the weather was too wet and windy for a launch.  We did see the canoe, treaty house and Maori Meeting House.  Right after this, Jay and I found ourselves in the back of a NZ police car.  No, no, we weren’t arrested! As we were leaving the Treaty Grounds, a tour bus hit the rear of our car.  The road was narrow and winding with lots of traffic, and Jay had gotten as far left as he could and was on the grass, but the bus came barreling though, hit the right rear fender and kept going.  Barbara got out and went after the bus, which was pretty funny, as she couldn’t catch a bus if she had two good knees.  She did find the police, and the two young policemen made out an accident report and said they would look for a bus with some red paint on it.  It really wasn’t bad, and we think our credit card company may cover it, so we’re not very concerned, although if they find the hit-and-run bus driver it will probably be less hassle for us.  The police said they will be in touch, so hopefully it will be resolved soon.  We’ll keep you posted.  We then drove to the picturesque town of Kerikeri, where we saw the oldest surviving stone building in New Zealand and the oldest fruit tree in the country.  We returned to Paihia and took a 3 hour cruise of the Bay of Islands.  It was quite windy and rainy and we could not go through the famous “hole in the rock” at Cape Brett, but we did see some dolphins.  We also saw the island where Captain James Cook first anchored in New Zealand in 1769.  We got off the boat in Russell, which was the first European settlement in New Zealand and was once called the “hell-hole of the Pacific.” There is a lot of history in this interesting area.  Wednesday we left Paihia in pouring rain, and as we had driven up the east coast to Paihia, we took the west coast back down toward Auckland.  They had record rainfalls in parts of the Northland and we heard on the radio that bridges were washed out and campers stranded.  We had no such problems, and had a beautiful 18 km drive (even though it was still raining) through the Waipoua Forest along the Tasman Sea.  There we saw a 2,000 year old kauri tree that stands about 52 meters tall.  It is called Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest).  We went through Auckland and on to Hamilton where we will spend the night.  For those curious about driving in NZ, gas is about $3.50 a gallon (U.S.), a little less than we expected. There aren’t many big SUVs on the roads--mostly small cars.  Barbara drove today for the first time.  It takes a while to get used to driving on the left side of the road.

The food has been very good.  Prices for accommodations and meals are quite reasonable.  Tipping is not required except at high end restaurants.  Today we saw a video online of our grandson Henry rolling over.  He is not quite 4 months old.  It’s amazing that we can share his big events while far from home!

Ocean Beach, first view of Pacific

Whangarei Heads

Having lunch at Reva's - Town Basin, Whangarei

Town Basin, Whangarei

Whangarei Falls

View from Garden Suite

Gardens outside our windows

War canoe at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Maori Meeting House at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Inside Maori Meeting House


Leaving Paihia on cruise of bay

Bay of Islands Cruise

Bay of Islands Cruise

Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest)

© Jay Deitch 2020