Yes, that is exactly what this country is: Stupid Beautiful. Around every corner is another dazzling waterfall or a photogenic cow. It’s getting ridiculous.
Today we woke up early to try our hands at visiting the Bay of Islands, something the rain had forbidden us to do a few days back. Our first delight was being greeted by Wiggles and Cat (as he is called by Nick and Angie) at our door when first exiting, followed by Cat giving Doug some quality morning love. Lynn got her fair share from Wiggles. Angie treated us to a huge spread for breakfast before we took off in Babs for our hour drive north to Paihia where we would catch our ferry to Urupukapuka Island.
The drive was uneventful, just full of stunning green hills and clusters of tea trees. No big deal. We quickly found parking in Paihia and purchased ferry tickets for the 10 a.m. departure and killed time by walking through a small craft fair before boarding.
The trip over to Urupukapuka was nice and calm which was perfect because Lynn didn’t take a Dramamine. Along the way we were treated to a drive-by of the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship parked in the bay along with some of the other islands that give this bay its name. After 30 minutes we were dropped in Otehei Bay where our boat’s company operates a small cafe. Urupukapuka is the largest island in the Bay of Islands and hosts a small farm, basic camping accommodations, and many coves of sandy beaches.
Now that we were here the plan was to do the 7 km, 5 hr archaeological hike which takes you all over the island, but we had a small problem in that we didn’t bring any food and knew that neither of us would last that length of time without sustenance. To remedy this, we planned to complete the southern loop, return to the cafe for some lunch, then finish the rest of the island before our 4:45 p.m. ferry back to Paihia. To start, we walked alongside a sheep paddock where we learned that sheep are just terrified of us. Rather than be next to us as we approached (though safely on the other side of a fence), they jumped back as far as they could in the pen while giving us their best wary eyes. “OK, OK, we won’t torture you,” we said and we continued up our first of many, many vibrant but steep green hills. Up and up we went until we had a birds eye view of Otehei Bay’s turquoise water and surrounding landscape. Stupid beautiful is right.
We continued our loop, pausing every so often to take yet another picture of a quaint sandy beach or nearby cliffs or a field of green. Every direction we looked we would reaffirm that you really can’t take a bad picture here. An hour or so later, our loop was complete so we returned to the cafe where we enjoyed some lunch. It’s unfortunate that during this time period a series of clouds rolled in that would continue the remainder of the day, but that didn’t get us down. We spent the next 3 hours huffing and puffing up hills and slowly treading down inclines all the while taking in the stunning views. Every once in a while we would encounter what we are affectionately calling machine gun birds darting in and out of the trees. We have called them such because they are so small but flap their wings so fast and so loudly resulting in machine gun like noises. I know, it’s not rocket science. We stopped at one beach on the northeast coastline where Doug was brave enough to go swimming but quickly commented that “that was easily the coldest water we have swam in.” I mentioned that this was an archaeological hike, right? Well, it was suppose to be. Apparently we took our own route because we only saw 2 signs the entire hike, one of which described the original tribe that inhabited the area and one about how they grew kumaras. These signs were labeled 13 and 14 respectively, so we definitely must have missed something.
Upon completion of our grand Urupukapuka Island tour we had an hour before the ferry came to get us so we pulled up some bean bag chairs outside the cafe and sipped on some beer and cider, all while admiring the view of Otehei Bay. When it was time to leave, we hopped back in our ferry for a quick ride back to Paihia. We grabbed Babs and drove back to our Airbnb where Angie treated us to roast chicken and vegetables alongside a salad. Delicious. If you are ever in Whangarei, you must stay here!
Daily Walking Mileage: 11.5
- Thanks to local radio, we have learned that Kiwis pronounce asphalt as ash-felt and rather than saying sandals, they say jandals. It’s a bit ridiculous.
- There are many orchards in the area (specifically here avocados, or “avos” as they are advertised, are popular) and we have noticed that they use large skinny trees/shrubs or clusters of bamboo as barriers around the orchards.
- James Cook was the first European to the Bay of Islands and gave the area its current name.