25 February 2011

Bay of Islands & Auckland

At the Haruru Falls
Our last two stops in New Zealand could hardly have been more different. The Bay of Islands, close to the northern tip of the North Island, was relaxed and scenic - a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the country's largest city.

Haruru Falls from our campsite
The Bay of Islands was also Barney's last stop before we returned him to his Jucy campervan clan (which we're both still quite emotional about!) We stayed in a gorgeous campsite in Paihia overlooking the Haruru Falls which, we were told, had been completely submerged in water from a cyclone three weeks previously.

Bottle-nosed dolphins swimming by the boat
Of course, the main attraction of the Bay of Islands is exactly that - the islands (144 of them, to be exact) - so, from the numerous different ways of getting out onto the water to see them, we decided on the most energy efficient option and took a cruise.

After passing several of the beautiful little islands, we were fortunate enough to come across a school of bottle-nosed dolphins who were happy to swim and play alongside the boat. Within minutes, they were performing in front of several boats.

From there, we went to Piercy Island, more often called The Hole in the Rock, before stopping off at Urupukapuka Island for lunch.

The Hole in the Rock
When we returned to Paihia, we saw that all the cafes and bars were showing news programmes and learned of the earthquake in Christchurch. Having been there only six weeks ago, and the fact that people around us were trying to phone friends and relatives to see if they were alive, certainly impacted on us.

Friendly graffiti
Our last night in the campervan was spent just outside Auckland in Long Bay Regional Park - a gorgeous place next to a huge flat stretch of sand only half an hour from the city centre. When we woke up the following morning, we felt a strange mix of relief and sadness. Barney had been our comfortable home-on-wheels for nearly seven weeks, but we were looking forward to being able to get dressed standing up and sleeping on a real bed!

Auckland skyline
After an emotional parting of ways, we wandered aimlessly around the city, taking in the sites before deciding to chill out in the hostel. Other travellers we had spoken to had been pretty negative about Auckland, and I can kind of see where they were coming from - there's not a great deal on offer for backpackers. However, we enjoyed our two days here, particularly having plug points in our room, a kitchen to cook in (as opposed to one gas stove!) and some good wine to get us in the mood for our next stop: the Cook Islands!



  1. I feel sad that Barney has gone too! He served you well. Looking forward to hearing about the Cook Islands. xx

  2. Glad that Bay of Islands was so good!

    We flew into NZ via the Cook Islands in 2004 - be interested to hear how you get on going the other way!

  3. Hi Guys,
    I'm going to New Zealand with my hubby in April and also looking to hire a Jucy campa... I have been a bit nervous but reading your blog has just made me uber excited again! Would love it if you could/would drop me a line (beth_charlotte@gmx.com) to let me know the names of some of the good campsites you stayed at - north and/or south island 'cos we're also doing a tour (although more mini than yours - 7 weeks, wow, and I thought 3 was long!)
    Beth :)


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