After a 12 hour flight I arrived in Hong Kong in a bit of a daze – the time difference had completely thrown me off. I wandered through the sprawling terminal buildings before realising that all I wanted was a coffee and a sit down – I was so scared about falling asleep and missing my connecting flight!
17 hours later I arrived in Auckland still in a bit of disbelief that I was on the other side of the world completely on my own. I got the sky bus into the CBD before lugging my rucksack up the very steep Charlotte Street up towards my hotel, the Auckland City Hotel – I was exhausted!! My one hour power nap turned into a three hour snooze (oops) but I soon headed out, admired the Sky Tower at night, grabbed some pizza and had an early night before the big day tomorrow!
The next morning at 5am I woke up (part jet lagged I think..) and began getting myself ready for boarding the Kiwi Experience bus down on Queen Street at 7am. I met a British couple outside Base backpackers who told me about the amazing trip they’ve been on whilst we waited for the bus – it was weird meeting people whose trips were coming to an end whilst mine was just beginning. We all boarded the bus, met our driver, Fly, and started driving up north – the scenery was so beautiful and, although cloudy at the start, the sky soon cleared up and the sun came out.
At our first stop of the day we made a pit stop at a cute little bakery for coffee and pastries before hitting the road again. By this point I’d got chatting to quite a few people on the bus so was feeling more confident that I wasn’t going to travel the whole country as Billy-no-mates…! It was so interesting hearing about what stages different people where at on their travels and getting tips about my trip to come. Our next stop of the day was at Whangarei an old shipping town which had an interesting waterfall to stop off an admire – I imagine this will be the first of many on this trip!
After a quick wander, it was back on board the bus and we made our way to our final stop of the day, Paihia on the Bay of Islands, where would be staying for the next couple of days. Named the Bay of Islands by Captain Cook in 1769 for its 144 islands, this archipelago was previously discovered in the 10th century by the Polynesian explorer, Kupe, who named it Aoteraroa
We were dropped off at our hostel for the night, the Pipi patch. The rooms were allocated at random and when I made my way to my dorm I realised I was in a room with just guys – great. I chose my top bunk and dumped my stuff before go meeting some of the girls that I’d got friendly with on the bus.
We decided to take a little wander through the town which boasts one small Main Street crammed full of souvenir stalls, ice cream parlours and surf shops. It was a really cute town with a real beachy feel to it.
We popped into a cool little spot called Els cafe and grabbed lunch of delicious quesadillas which we ate out on the beach all chatting and getting to know each other.
Full, we decided to walk off our lunch and take a stroll down one of the town’s many walking routes. We popped up towards one of the viewing points which gave us a lovely view out over the bay before heading down to the water’s edge and heading towards the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This site is of real importance to the Maori people and is the spot where the local tribes men signed the treaty with British back in 1814. Being backpackers on a budget we decided against the $25 entrance fee and instead just admired the location from the outside…
The walk actually took us quite a while so when we arrived back at hostel we wanted nothing more than to sit outside in the warm and wait for the bar to open (obvs). We all had a BBQ together which was lovely. It was ladies night in the hostel that night (much to the disappointment of some of the guys in our group) so we thoroughly took advantage of the $5 glasses of wine before crawling back to our room and enjoying our first of many night on squeaky bunk beds! Tomorrow we would be heading to Cape Reinga- New Zealand’s most northern point. I’ll write about that separately as it definitely deserves its own post.
Having spent the day admiring Cape Reinga, when we arrived back in Paihia me and some of the girls I’ve made friends with popped to the supermarket to buy stuff to make dinner back at the hostel. We just made pasta which was a bit of an experience – the hostel kitchen was so busy and a bit manic. We ate outside which was lovely until a praying mantis landed on my pasta. The girls all claim it was a grasshopper but I’m not so sure.. That evening we all just chilled in the girls room before I headed back to the my room for a night in the lads dorm (!)
The next morning we woke up around about 9ish and started packing up for checking out of the hostel. My padlock on my bag had somehow reset itself so I had to get maintenance to come and cut the lock – travelling is going well three days in!
Having checked out a few of us wandered up towards the ferry port and boarded a bus across Russell, one of the many islands in the bay. We wandered up the cute sea front strip and became instantly jealous of all the amazing houses. We popped into the Wharf Restaurant and grabbed coffee and the most amazing lemon meringue pie which I split with Hannah, a Swedish girl I met in the hostel – it was delicious!
The island of Russell houses New Zealand’s oldest pub so we decided it would be rude not to go and have a drink there. It wasn’t until we were sitting on the pub’s terrace with our pints of cider that we realised we were in the wrong pub… The sign that said ‘Duke of Marlborough since 1976’ certainly gave it away – oops!
We finished our drinks, headed down to the actual historic pub before getting back on the ferry and heading back to the mainland.
We had an hour or so back at the Hostel before the Kiwi Bus picked us up. I’ve already been locked out my debit card so I spent that time on the phone to bank. As I said, three days back in and things are going really well…! Ha.
That afternoon we headed back to Auckland and checked into our hostel, Nomads, right in the city centre. The girls and I checked into a room of 6 – no more guys room for me! Our plan was to grab some drinks at the hostel before heading out into town after making dinner which we ate out on the roof terrace. After a few bottles of wine on our dorm floor however we decided to stay put and crawled into bed around 2am feeling very merry!
The next morning we had to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus heading southbound towards Hot Water Beach. It was an absolutely beautiful morning so we sat out on the hostels roof terrace with our coffees – how civilised!
We soon packed up our room and headed to Queen Street where the bus was picking us up – this time around the bus was full so it was nice to get to know some of the other travellers. Our driver Murray also seemed like a good laugh.
Hot Water Beach here we come!