I'm so excited I'm finally up north! I have left Wellington for a little while and am taking summer holiday. I flew to Auckland on Wednesday and went up the Skytower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere to see Auckland from up high. I then met a friend for a quick drink before having an early night and getting up at 7 for the Stray bus up north. Stray is and andventure bus company which helps backpackers get around and is very good.
However, this particular leg of the journey, Auckland to Paihia, wasn't great. We stopped at a couple of places on the way, including a giant tree, a waterfall and some really cool toilets, but the main reason for paying extra for the stray bus was that we got a free trip in a glass bottomed boat to a marine nature reserve. However due to weather we couldn't do the boat trip which we all understood but there was no back-up plan. We went straight to Paihia and it was so disappointing that our driver didn't find us something else to do, especially as she told us the boat had been out of action all week due to the weather, they would have had plenty of time to find an alternative activity. We even heard her talking to her friends about meeting up and it was almost like she was rushing to get us there so she could see our friends. But oh well, I made some friends on the bus and we all went to the beach and then a BBQ that night. One of the girls I met in our dorm is from Cheam, a part of London where my cousin lives which is weird. The more we talked the more we realised she was at University with on if my best friends from St. Bernards, and they had lived together in first year. How crazy is that??
Today was much better, we had a different driver and got picked up at 7 for a full day of activities. We went to a gum plantation which is when they dug up the sap from fossilised trees (a bit like amber) and used it for paints and varnish, it was a huge industry up north. From there we went to Cape Reinga, the most northern tip of New Zealand. It is where the Maori people believe dead peoples souls depart the world and start there journey to the spirit world. It is also where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific ocean meet. We then went to a beach for lunch and a bit of sunbathing, I got burned but and as we were on the Pacific side it was nice and warm. We then went to some sand dunes for some sand surfing. After an exhausting climb to the top of a steep high sand dune (which is hard to climb cos the sand collapses beneath your feet) you get a boogie board and go head first on your stomach down the Dunes. It was fun, the sort of thing travel insurance doesn't cover, but I am far to lazy and just did not want to do that climb again, I was happy doing it once. After that we drove down 90 mile beach, instead of the highway, which is really 68 miles. I have no idea why its called 90 mile beach, I mean it should be called 68 mile beach, that's just false advertising! We had a quick swim, time in the Tasman sea which was a lot colder. Then back home via the Fish and Chip shop.
Throughout the day we say tonnes of police men. They were everywhere due to that fact that Northland has the perfect weather for growing certain illegal plants. There was even a police helicopter that we saw with a bucket of spray hanging below it praying chemicals to kill these plants which was pretty funny.
All in all it was a much better day than the previous on and it felt it was really good value for money, we did and saw a lot, our driver was very informative and we had loads of fun. The only downside was that I didn't put enough sun screen on, as New Zealand has no ozone I now look like a lobster and am just preying that my aftersun lotion stops me peeling and allows me to tan! Tomorrow we are getting the ferry to Russle, the first capital of NZ, and then I'll have to figure out what to do about boat trips/ dolphin swimming etc. I'm glad I cam up hear, I really needed a week of work and am loving it up north!