Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bay of Islands

Yesterday we went for an overnight trip to check out the Bay of Islands, which is a couple hours north of where we are living. It is a really pretty area, but I think the Lonely Planet description is accurate:
Undeniably pretty, the Bay of Islands ranks as one of NZ’s top tourist drawcards. The footage that made you want to come to NZ in the first place no doubt featured lingering shots of lazy, sun-filled days on a yacht floating atop these turquoise waters punctuated by around 150 undeveloped islands. The reality is that NZ has many beautiful spots and this bay, while wonderful, could be a teensy bit overhyped.
Bay of Islands
The main attraction to the area is exploring the islands on some type of boat trip, but since we were there with Dexter we just stayed on land (also saved some money...the touristy boat trips aren't really cheap). Yesterday we got off to a late start because we had to pack up the van and also arrange somebody to mow our lawn. Unfortunately our rental place leaves us with the responsibility to mow the lawn, but we have no lawnmower. Instead of buying one for 2 months we figured we would just hire the guy the mows our neighbours lawn. We also had to stop in Whangarei for a couple errands - first we got materials so that we could put screens over the windows of our van. Last camping trip we were stifling hot but when we opened the windows we were attacked by mosquito! We also finally purchased a power voltage converter, for our one item that can not take duel voltage (soldering iron). It cost a pretty penny...really should have bought this in Canada, but in our rush we didn't know that we needed it! 

We got up to the Bay of Islands area in the afternoon, and debated if it was worthwhile to take the ferry over to Russell. It's also possible to drive there, but since it's such a big detour the most common way is to take a short ferry ride. We ended up deciding that there was nothing in particular that we wanted to do in Russell, so we just spent a few hours wandering around Paihia instead. Dexter had to stay on leash, but we explored some rocky areas near the water and walked along the shore.

Panoramic picture of Bay of Islands from Paihia
Scott taking the panorama picture :)
A gull that Dexter wanted to chase

Weird creatures in a crack on a rock - don't know what they are!
The sad thing about the Northland region of New Zealand (and only this region we hope...) is that because of the wildlife protection dogs are banned from a lot of areas. This means that most of the nice walks and hikes we can't even bring Dexter on a leash! It sucks...I understand that the kiwis are endangered and need protection, but if we had him on a leash and under control it should be fine! But no :( So we have had to miss out on a lot of the nice wilderness walks because we don't want to leave Dexter in the car for that long. Oh well...hopefully it is better in other parts of NZ!

This bench is the only place I'm allowed to go :(
After a quick stop at Haruru Falls (since Dexter once again had to stay in the car) we checked into the campground (Holiday Park) that we were staying at. It was not very busy, so we had our choice of spots and picked one way on the end next to the river. It was very private, so we had a bit of space to play with Dexter a bit since he didn't get as much running around yet that day.

Haruru Falls - before the giant tour of people arrived
Our camp site!
Dexter loves camping!
Then it was time to put our handiness skills to the test and attach our screens to the windows. We had bought some silicone rubber stuff that worked pretty well, and only slightly made a mess. I'm actually pretty impressed at how well it turned out! Looks decent, kept the bugs out and didn't fall off on our drive home today! Yay us!

Scott carefully glues in the screen
It looks pretty good!

We cooked up some dinner (in the kitchen, this isn't open fire style camping :) ) and set up our bed and Dexter's bed in the front seat. This worked well because a) he hogs the bed when he sleeps with us, b) we have an air mattress and I'm would worry about him puncturing it and c) in such a small enclosed space it's probably better if he has his own space, since we can't just kick him off the bed easily :) Dexter seemed fine with this too, he had his cushion and blanket and seemed quite cozy!

Our camper!
Our bed
Dexter's bed
Ready to sleep! (Dexter is happier than he looks...)
Sleepy puppy
This morning we packed up and went to the sky diving place for Scott to jump out of a plane, ahhhh!!!! More info in a separate post :)

After the excitement of sky diving we got our culture on, and visited a historical site in Kerikeri - Mission House and Stone Store. It was pretty late in the day so we just looked around a bit (the tours were all over). Also walked up the hill to Kororipo Pa. We also finally figured out that the word "Pa" means settlement in Maori - we had seen the word all over but didn't know what it meant. Then we grabbed some food in Kerikeri and headed home!

Me (and some ladies that decided to walk into the picture [and stand around gabbing - scott]) at Stone Store
Walk up to Kororipo Pa
View of Stone Store and Mission House from Kororipo Pa
These are neat trees that have no bark. Wonder what they are...
I made a wish! It's a secret :)
Fun trip! Warm weather too...I managed to sunburn my nose, even though we didn't spend any time "hanging out" in the sun really. Gotta get a hat or something to prevent this in the future (I have a beach hat, but it looks so silly that I only wear it at the beach, haha). We missed a few things so we will have to come back to the Bay of Islands again sometime. 

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