Friday, October 10, 2014

Bay of Islands, then lost again

This morning we took a passenger ferry from Pahia to Russell, a thoroughly charming small town on the Bay of Islands, which like its name says, is just that: a big bay dotted with something like 150 islands, many of them tiny. This is a volcanic phenomenon. Russell is tiny and consists of many white Victorian houses and hotels that run along the waterfront. Then the town spreads gently uphill along the slopes of the hills behind. There are hardly any cars there, and many cute little shops and restaurants. You can see the entire town in a couple of hours.

When we got back to Pahia we made a decision to head south to make up some lost time. So we drove down through Auckland, a long drive, and thought we would head over towards the east coastal area below Auckland. However our map shows only the big roads. I thought we could find our way to the sea if we just kept heading due east using my compass. How wrong I was! This time we got thoroughly lost in a winding suburb, ending up in cul-de-sacs that took us nowhere, and making big circles back towards the city. We stopped numerous times to ask for help, but many of the locals were as baffled as we were about how to get to the sea. To add to the mix, most place names over here are in the Maori language, so they are easy to mix up. So people would say "just go straight down Manawakea to Makenaroa, then turn right til you get to Takanamawa and keep going to Kawaneoa Street....." Ummmmm, yeah, sure!

Eventually we found the sea, but long before that Daniella announced that she was planning to kill me over this little incident! We had a nice dinner and made up and laughed about our two episodes of Lost in NZ, then drove on into the night looking for a campsite. Everyone says not to park on the roadside here because there are so many campsites, and there are, but not where we were. So we pulled into a tiny regional park in an area where we had seen no cars, no houses, no nothing for about 1/2 hour. Here we spent a completely silent night, undisturbed by anyone. When we woke up, we were on the edge of the Firth of Thames, a giant bay and bird sanctuary to hundreds of wading birds and others. It was a stunning place to be.

Location:New Zealand

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