“It is so sad that many people travel immediately to the south after they arrive in Auckland”, Roy said. Roy is a Kiwi with Dutch roots and he gave me some great tips about visiting New Zealand. One of them was to visit some spots north of Auckland. So I did. I booked a seat on the Intercity bus from Auckland to Paihia: center of the Bay of Islands region. A true gem.
Staying and playing in Paihia
I found myself a very nice hostel: Haka Lodge Paihia. Really recommendable. Small dorm rooms but with a lot of privacy: bed curtains, your own bed light and wall outlet of charging your phone. This hostel is on the second floor and has a great view over the Southern Pacific
Paihia is a small town with lots of activities. Best cappuccino is at Third Wheel Vending. Because of this fungus that is killing the Kauri trees, unfortunately some tracks were closed. And my booked tour to the Waipoua Forest was cancelled because I was the only one. But still I had a great time in Bay of Islands.
I visited the island Russel. Russel is a lovely Victorian island before the coast of Paihia. Nice beaches and some shops and bars. I witnessed part of a Maori wedding, did some hiking, found a nice cafe and took the ferry back to Paihia. Of course Russel has much more to offer. It all depends on what you are interested in. More about Russel you find here.
Hiking and hitchhiking Bay of Islands
For hiking I can recommend the nice walk from Waitangi Treaty Grounds to Haruru Falls walk. It is a 5km walk, not hard and really beautiful. Some part leads you through Mangrove forest.
After arriving at the Maruru Falls I challenged myself for the first time with hitchhiking. As was expected, it was not hard to find someone who could bring me back to Paihia. A lovely young mother and her child. She never took any hitchhikers but I seemed pretty decent. So she said. Must be my age. She probably thought: “Let’s not leave this old woman standing there”.
I had some nice strolls around Paihia town and found a ride from Bay of Islands to Auckland when talking to some guys at the hostel. You will read more about that experience in my next blog.