Hello all, I am back! I know I left you guys on a little bit of a cliffhanger before. I was pretty sad and miserable. For the last eight days I have had myself a little bit of a holiday up in the very north of the country, the Bay of Islands. I’ve been staying in Paihia and traveling around the north from there. I’ve been up to so much cool stuff and I wanted to make one big post with lots of photos to tell you all about it. I’m very much coming to terms with solo traveling. I still don’t love it, and get pretty homesick occasionally, but I’m doing so much better than before. I’ve even stayed in *gasp* a hostel this whole time! Paihia is a pretty small beach town so it’s not too overwhelming, which is good for me. I’ve chatted with the various roommates I’ve had on this trip and done a lot of being on my own. I think I’ve gotten quite good at it! I’m going to break down what I’ve done into categories and hopefully make you all jealous of everything I’m doing!
I’ve done a ton of hiking here. I walk somewhere around 6-8miles each day and I’m loving it. I’ve avoided the sun pretty well during this time so luckily I’m not too pink. Looking back now, it seems that most of the hikes I’ve done have been to see waterfalls, but they’ve each been really good. I always find that I’m in a better mood after hiking for a while, so I think that’s a contributing factor to my increased happiness and calmness. You can’t really hike much in a big city. This country is truly amazing in the amount of outdoor things to do. There are so many parks and wilderness areas that everywhere you turn there’s green forests waiting to be explored!
So given the name I’m sure you can all figure out that the Bay of Islands has a lot of beaches and islands. I got to do a really cool boat tour that toured around the islands, sailed through a massive hole in a rock, saw dolphins, and stopped off at an island where, surprise surprise, I hiked. It was really nice to be out on the water although we did only see one dolphin right at the end, which means we didn’t get a refund and it wasn’t even a great sighting of that one dolphin. I really wanted to see whales or killer whales as that is a life goal of mine, but oh well. I did spend a lot of time around beaches but because of the intense sun here, I avoided laying out in the sand or relaxing in the sun. Self preservation I guess.
Cape Regina/90 Mile Beach:
If you look at a map, Cape Regina is the very farthest North you can go in the country. It’s a great little park with a cool lighthouse and stunning views. I did a day trip up there that included wandering through a forest with massive old trees, sand boarding down dunes, visiting the lighthouse, and driving on 90 Mile Beach. 90 Mile Beach isn’t actually 90 miles and while being a beach, it is also a state highway. Driving down in on a massive tour bus was a pretty cool experience! As for the sand boarding, I’m not an adrenaline junkie so after doing the enormously steep climb up the sand dune, and sliding back down, I decided it maybe wasn’t for me. This was a really cool day trip and way to see the far North though!
Historic Bay of Islands:
I didn’t know this before coming, but it turns out this area of the north is the birthplace of westernized/colonized New Zealand. It’s where the original Europeans landed and contains the site of the first capital of the country. I won’t bore everyone with a history lesson, but I found it fascinating! Right near Paihia is the Waitangi Treaty grounds, where the British and the Maori chiefs signed a treaty linking New Zealand and the crown. It’s an excellent sight full of cool information that I would suggest checking out. If only a certain C. Columbus took a page out of Captain Cook’s book for how to arrive and treat the locals.
For two days up here I did rent a car. Because of the time I’ve spent in England and Bermuda, driving on the left wasn’t all that foreign an idea to me and I found it pretty easy, you just have to concentrate a lot! I covered 230miles around my first day and 170 the second. The roads here are the twistiest and steepest I think I’ll ever drive, but also the most beautiful. It really feels like I’m driving through Hobbiton one day, the Virgin Islands the next, and rainy England after that. You do definitely experience the windward and leeward side of mountains here. It would be raining really hard for two minutes and then be absolutely dry for an hour and rain again after. There’s not much public transport up here, so renting a car was really the only way to see everything. Yes I did pull over safely to take all the pictures.
I think that just about covers everything I’ve done. It’s been really nice to settle and relax in one location after moving around a lot in the first five days here. I still miss my family at home but I am having fun and getting better at being alone. I’ve got an au pair orientation on Thursday and Friday and then I’m off to my host family and I start work. You can expect another post after I’ve settled in there. For the mean time, don’t let the giant orange cheeto running the US get you down! No one really cares about it over here, and it’s been quite refreshing to be out of the American news cycle loop. As always, check my VSCO, http://vsco.co/cstravels/images/1, and Facebook for more pictures!