NZ: Days 8, 9 and 10
Leaving Rotorua, we arrived at Auckland in the early evening.
Once again we were staying at Base hostel, at the heart of the city. Again, like all Base hostels, it was basic, but did have a pretty decent bar and terrace- although the beer was a lot pricier than most.
The 4 bed dorm itself cost us $30 a night.
In truth, we didn’t do a lot in Auckland, nor had much interest in the city itself. It serves mostly as the start/end to most peoples journey’s so tends to be a mostly admin based stop on the Kiwi E. Instead, we were far more excited about heading up to the tip of New Zealand to Paihia and the Bay of Islands in the morning.
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We joined the bus at 7am the next morning to head up to Paiha. This was the first time that everyone seemed to be in the same boat- or bus to speak- where everyone was fairly new and unfamiliarised with the KiwiE and no friendship groups had yet been established. We found it a little strange at times, coming from Christchurch to the North, where the majority of the bus had already formed close friendship groups.
We stopped off for breakfast at a small farm, where Jay ended up feeding some calves milk and we were shown around the sheep shaving paddocks.
An hour later and we had reached Paihia- a small seaside town, surrounded with tropical forests- very Hawaii-like (not that I’ve been). The town was very neat and a real popular hot-spot with older tourists passing through on luxury boat cruises. There are no commercial corporations here, so smaller independent fish and chip shops added a charm to the place.
We were staying at Pipi Patch, Base Hostel, ($24 per night), which, with a couple of outdoor pools, decent sized rooms, a lively bar and a pretty awesome BBQ was definitely one of the better Base Hostels that we’ve stayed in. It was also only about 50 meters from the beach.
We spent the afternoon meeting and greeting everyone on the beach and, after a few beers, a few of us decided to swim out to one of the offshore islands. It was a hell of a lot further than it looked, but was pretty satisfying when we eventually made it over. Needless to say we regretted not bringing some of the ‘tinnies’ over with us.
Swimming back to the mainland, we than had a quick stroll through the town, picked up some ‘Fish and Chups’ and headed back to the outdoor pools at the hostel. The whole environment was very relaxed and chilled and it was far easier to enjoy ourselves than the hectic chaos in Auckland.
We feasted on the BBQ which the hostel offered up- $6 (I think)- and begun a series of drinking games with the rest of our room and other people on the bus.
We were aware that we had to be up at 9am as we had booked ourselves onto a Kayaking tour, but we were far too occupied in making friends with everyone and enjoying the moment. Also, there were prizes up for grabs at the hostel bar- a free spot on a boat cruise and a free spot on the Bay of Islands tour- we didn’t win either. But for us, this felt like the real start of our Kiwi Experience tour!
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Forcing ourselves up in the morning, Jay and myself were to meet for a half-day Kayaking tour- $45.
Unsurprisingly, we were running pretty late and had to make it to the other side of town in 5 minutes in a walk that took 40- We managed to fortunately get a hitch in some guys car who was heading that way. There were supposed to be two others booked on two, but after waiting around a bit it was evident that Jay and myself were to get a private tour through the waterlogged mangrove forests and up the river with the instructor of River Kayaks company.
Truth be told, it was a pretty good hangover cure, especially when we made it to the waterfalls and drifted through them with the kayaks.
After we soaked ourselves under further waterfalls, we parked up and had a hot chocolate and a few biscuits before making our way back up the river and out to the seafront. It was a pretty good way to spend the first half of the day, but it did drag a little, particularly giving the state we were in and was a little pricey for what was on offer.
After our session had come to an end, we headed back through the town and to the hostel, where we met up with everyone again; Some people had gone out on a boat to spot Dolphins and Orca in the morning- an alternative to the kayaking- but, as we’ve already swam with a 500 strong pod of wild dolphins in Kaikoura, seeing a pod of 20 from a boat wasn’t of primary interest. Once again, we feasted on the fantastic hostel BBQ and started up the drinking games, adopting a slightly less gung-ho approach this time; We were aware that we had to be up early as we were all off on the Bay of Islands tour early in the morning!
Base Hostel, Auckland: $30 NZ/ £15 p/n **
Base Hostel, Paihia: $24 NZ/ £12 p/n ****
Base Hostel BBQ: $6 NZ / £3 ****
Island Kayaks, Half Day: $45 **