We woke up bright and early to our alarms a 7:30 a.m. since were needing to catch a 10 a.m. ferry to visit one of the islands in the Bay of Islands. After some early morning grumbling, Lynn started to make breakfast and get lunch items ready for the trip. It wasn’t until Doug had finished his breakfast that we realized that it was downpouring outside. Well, it looks like that activity would have to wait. So we did what do best: went back to bed.
Around lunchtime we figured we should do something with our day so we started by eating the lunch that Doug had finished preparing that morning and debated what to do. Our best option was to visit something called Shipwreck Bay, but it was recommended to do that at low tide. We had learned our lesson from our last shipwreck experience and put in the effort to determine that the tide would not be until 5:45 p.m. So, we had some time to kill before then. Luckily, due to Lynn’s numerous guides and maps, we had a few different options, the best being a visit to the Wairere Boulders which upon completing would put us in the vicinity of Shipwreck Bay at the appropriate time.
We hopped in the car and started our 1.5 hour drive to the Wairere Boulders. Along the way, Lynn spotted both chocolate brown sheep and a delightfully colored bird with a red head and lime green back that looked like it belonged more in Dr. Seuss Australia than here. Doug focused on being the good driver he is as Google brought us along a 10 km stretch of a narrow, gravel road (He even adopted the Balinese way of driving by honking around every bend in hopes preventing a head-on collision) followed by the most windy, banked road either of us had ever been on making us on the verge of car sickness (Which by the way is a part of State Highway 1). Thankfully the Wairere Boulders followed shortly after.
After parking the car we were greeted by one of the owners who gave us an extensive overview of the formation of the Wairere Boulders (He also was surprised to see Americans). The rocks we were about to visit are basalt and some of the only eroded basalt rocks in the world. They are 2.6-2.8 million years old and remnants of the basalt layer that was once 90 m above the valley floor. We entered, starting upon the guided trail and were immediately greeted by massive rocks. Yeah, I’d say they were pretty unique. Most were positioned over the creek but a few were precariously being held up by other rocks which we had to duck in and out of to follow the trail. The trail followed the creek up-river then back down-river providing signage on the various trees and facts about the Kauri trees that were once populous here. We took the long tour by walking the extra 20 minutes uphill to the platform that overlooks the valley. It wasn’t such a bad view!
By 3 we had wrapped up our tour of the Boulders, so we were once again in Babs to visit Shipwreck Bay. Back through the most windy road (thankfully avoiding the gravel one), up and down beautiful bright green pastured hills, around joyful looking horses and cow, before arriving in the small town of Ahipara, home of Shipwreck Bay.
Shipwreck Bay’s beach, by the way, is just beautiful. It’s long, nestled against the bright green hills, and contains perfectly clear aqua water. If it wasn’t so brisk out we’d be in that water. Instead we settled for exploring the remains of shipwrecks. Google had provided us with directions which took our car on another gravel road which was luckily much, much shorter than the last before dropping us off on a sandy beach. Sorry rental car. Everyone else was doing it, so you just have to place nice.
We parked it on the sand and starting walking towards the only thing we could tell was not native to the landscape, a 6 ft piece of rusty something. On closer inspection, we still had no idea what it was but mussels had made it their new home which added some interesting features. There was also a fat seagull nearby that appeared to be keeping watch. Looking up and down the beach, no other shipwreck items were apparent so we started walking east to a cluster of lava rock, enjoying some tidal pools on the way. We didn’t see any more remnants so we headed west to more lava rock on a cliff’s edge that a lot of SUVs had taken to driving on thinking there would be more that way. We walked a good 15 minutes over somewhat painful rocks before turning around, figuring those cars were just headed to good surf breaks (the surfboards may have given them away).
Oh well. We saw one piece of wreck and possibly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world so we weren’t at a loss. Starting to get hungry again, we hopped back in Babs for a trip back to Cable Bay where we may have had some more ice cream before eating leftovers for dessert.
Daily Walking Mileage: 5.5
- The bird Lynn saw was an Eastern Rosella (thank you, internet). It looks somewhat like a parrot, but is apparently a parakeet native to southeastern Australia.
- “Basalt does not erode,” at least that’s what the science community thought before being introduced to these rocks. It is believed that the basalt in this region eroded due to rain accumulating acid from the Kauri trees as it made its way through the rainforest canopy.
- The cows and horses here have noticeably shiner coats than we have seen elsewhere. We don’t know if it’s the plentiful green grass they are enjoying or the fact that they are not covered in mud like other places we have been.
- We totally saw a giant hawk snatch a 6 in bird with its talons off the road 10 ft in front of us. It was awesome and terrifying at the same time! We are sorry we cannot share a picture of this with you.