I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Thursday 15 February 2024

The BIG One 2024 - New Zealand - Days 8, 9 and 10

 Thursday 8th February - Paihia


We were up at 6.15am ready to be picked up for a coach trip up to the most northerly point of NZ - Cape Reinga.  The coach was 20 minutes late and when we got on there was a rousing round of applause!  It then dawned on me that before we got on the coach the driver had been talking to the passengers and he must have been planning this!  I gave a big bow and we took our seats at the back of the bus.


We had a very entertaining trip.  Our driver, Willie, was a Māori and an entertainer.  He told us he had been a clown and he kept us amused on our journey.  Silly stories and interesting facts - I don’t think he stopped talking all the way up to the Cape which took us 2.5 hours.  There is a lighthouse on the Cape, so we set off to walk down the hill towards it, but Richard’s knees couldn’t take it.  It was then that I realised that my knee wasn’t hurting at all - success!!  Even on the way up the hill I had no pain.  We did, however, see where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea met.


From the Cape we headed to our lunch stop.  We had pre booked and had ordered fish and chips which were lovely.  The cafe is in a beautiful spot.  It was then onto 90 Mile Beach (which isn’t 90 miles long but 55 miles).  It is an amazing beach as you can probably imagine.  The tide was out so it looked even bigger.  We drove along until Willie found his favourite spot for sand dune boarding, this entailed going to the top of the dune and then flinging yourself down onto a surf board and sliding down!  It looked fun but wasn’t for Richard and I!  Can you imagine that being allowed in the UK?  Richard and I went for a paddle in the ocean - it was so warm.  There was a large group of young people on the tour and they were encouraged to form a human pyramid before getting back onto the coach!  It was a very quiet trip back to Paihia, I think a lot of people fell asleep - I didn’t but I had dropped off on the way up.  It was a very long but fun and interesting day.


As we had had fish and chips for lunch we just had crackers and cheese for dinner.

Friday 9th February - Paihia


We needed to get some wire and electrical connectors this morning to extend the 12v lead for my sleep machine.  The only cigarette lighter socket is in the front of the van and we sleep at the back.  The lady in the office was very helpful and asked her electrician if he could sell us some wire which he did 😃. We also needed a few things for the van.  As we are out for 6 weeks we decided to get 2 single sheets (we only given a bottom sheet and a duvet type of thing with no cover and I didn’t fancy having to wash those every couple of weeks).  We also wanted a hand towel, a bath mat and two side plates - these were all purchased from the op shop (charity shop).


Back at the site Richard extended my sleep machine cable and I did some washing.  There were three washing lines so in the heat (28 degrees) it was all dry in no time.


In the afternoon we went to the Waitangi Treaty Ground and saw where the treaty between the Captain William Hobson and the Māori chiefs was signed in 1840.  We also saw some amazing wakas (canoes) one of which is the world’s largest ceremonial waka.  Everyone was busy studying the canoes when I realised that Richard was busy examining the trailers for the smaller ones!  We were then entertained by a group of Māoris who sang and showed us ceremonial moves of may taiaha (stick fighting). The whole visit was excellent.


Back to the site and dinner on board!

Saturday 10th February - Paihia


As we had made a change to our itinerary due to the sleep machine drama we decided to go on a boat trip round the Bay of Islands.  We got a $100 discount as we been on the Cape Reinga trip with the same company.  Our boat was a speedy catamaran which whizzed us over the tops of the waves.  We stopped at varying islands for a look and chance to take some photos.  We then went through a very narrow passage and out into some rougher water.  The boat was lacking in seating and we had to perch on a shelf (Richard says it was the gunnel but I don’t think it was whichever it was not very comfortable on the rougher sea).  We went out to the Hole in the Rock which we never thought we get through but somehow we did.  The skipper took his time and eventually said we are going through!  The sea had suddenly calmed right down from being two lots of water angrily joining each other and looking very nasty indeed.  It was a bit bumpy but we did it, I’m sure the skipper hyped it all up!  At Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island we have 90 mins on land and we took ourselves off to the cafe as did most people and had a drink, then decided we would have an early dinner overlooking the bay and its islands - it was blissfull!  Back on the boat, we got on early and got seats, then went back to Paihia. It had been a beautiful and wonderful afternoon.


We got back to Kiwi and I actually drove her back to the site!  We had already had dinner so a nice quiet evening.

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