Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Mia and Mackay gave me an
Easter Bunny before I left
This post has been haunting me all week to the point it is keeping me up tonight. It is not so problematic as daunting - I did my fair share of amazing things and had just a few inspirational epiphanies and I don't know how to go about summarizing them in writing, but here goes.

On Friday morning, Andrew and Mackay dropped me off at across from the old ferry building down at the CBD. Mackay cried, like full on screaming. I had told him bye-bye and gave him a kiss on the check. I would like to think that he was crying for my sake, but at the same moment Andrew had retrieved my purse and small luggage bag and exited the vehicle as well. Mackay apparently thought we were both leaving him the in car for the weekend! Anyways, they went on home to enjoy their Easter weekends with friends and family and a few days on Waiheke.
Dining at Shippys

I jumped onto Naked Bus at 0800- no not what you are thinking- their slogan is "stripping the cost of traveling" and the coverage of clothing is not a consideration as a passenger. It is about 250 kms due North from Auckland to Paihia, and with a few stops and some holiday traffic we arrived in Paihia right as predicted at 1230. I slept and read most the ride up, but did have the chance to catch some beautiful scenery that rivals CO, the West Coast and the Midwest all at once.
Shippys - Old Sugar Boat
The weather was predicted to be bloody miserable all weekend - cold and rainy - but the weather gods were looking out for me and most the Northern Island and we ended up with absolutely perfect, sunny and gorgeous weather almost all weekend (with the exception of some showers over night).
Waitangi Maori Meeting Hall
Inside Treaty house
Kauri Tree

Once in Paihia I walked about 10 minutes outside downtown (which isn't really a "downtown" as a the center of the tourist driven town), to my hostel. Yes - hostel- and it was as cute and lovely as the website and backpackers website I had booked through had boasted. Seabeds was not packed to capacity like most of the  "in town" hostels were, had clean and newly remodeled bathrooms, nice beds, a cute and well organized kitchen and was just perfectly located half a block from the ocean - easily seen from the end of the hostel and balcony.

I stopped by the local Countdown (grocery store chain) to get some provisions for the weekend as it was just luck and a bit scatology that it was open Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Then I walked down the main thoroughfare to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, stopping for lunch at Shippys Fish and Chips - an old sugar boat and to take some pictures of the Pou (like totem poles) on the side of the road. The Waitangi Treaty was the document signed between the Maori (native NZ people) tribes and the British Empire in 1840. The Treaty grounds now host a Maori Meeting house and a few other bits of history and is easily one of the most historically and culturally important pieces of land in the country. I finished on the day with some time reading at the beach, dinner and bed.

Expecting the worse weather, I had booked an all day bus tour going from Paihia to Cape Reigna - the most nothern spot in NZ. The bus picked me up at 0720, then went to the Puketi Kauri Forest which is the host of trees that are kind of like redwoods in the sense that they are often hundreds or thousands of year old. Then we were off to a morning tea stop and then on to Cape Reigna and one the most beautiful parts of the world I have ever been lucky enough to see. Cape Reigna is 290m above sea level looking out to the area of water where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean clash - literally. Maori legend states that this is where departing spirits of this land pass on to their homeland.

The Clash of the Tasman Sea
and Pacific Ocean

We were then on to the sand dunes where we lanched ourselves down a 74m sand dune on a plastic body board at speeds of up to 80k. Then,onto 90-Mile Beach, a register high way on the beach spanning about 90 miles - this area is absolutely, amazing beautiful and I didn't take as many pictures as I could have knowing that there was no way to ever capture that type of natural beauty on a digital camera and instead of trying I would keep my eyes away from the camera view finder and on the horizon. Off to home and bed.
Mangrove Forest
Haruru Falls

Sunday I walked up past the Treaty Grounds to the Haruru Fall/Mangrove Forest 10k hike. Haruru Falls wasn't all the wonderful, but the luscious NZ forest walk and Mangrove Forest made it all worth while. Mangroves are these shoal based trees that thrive even with the high tide rising up them about a meter every day, twice a day. I arrived in the forest just barely after high -tide and the trail was basically at water level. It was so serene, peaceful, and (again) beautiful it was almost eerie. The afternoon was spent reading and sitting at the beach before another 3 hour bus ride home.

Monday was spent at home blissfully doing laundry and tidying, playing with Mackay and Mia, and generally  spending time with the family and enjoying the simple yet joyous parts of life.

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