Out Of The City
After an evening in Auckland and meeting the new group of travellers from last night‘s meal, it was time to head out of the city and make our way up the Bay of Islands area located at the north of the North Island in New Zealand.
If you wanted to drive it in one go, it would probably take you about 3.5 hours up Highway 1 but where’s the fun in that? There’s a few places to explore up and down this highway and we’ll be taking a look at them in this blog. All aboard the travellers bus!
Parry Kauri Park
A gentle 45 minute drive up Highway 1 gets you to a local reserve called “Parry Kauri Park”, whose purpose is to preserve the native New Zealand Kauri trees. These are some of the tallest in the world and as you arrive, you will be taken aback by the size of them. Most notable is “The McKinney Kauri” which greets you from the car park with a circumference of 7.62m, height to the first limb of 11.89m and estimated total volume of 43.1 cubic metres! The age of this giant is around 800 years according to the plaque that is nearby – a baby really considering these trees can live up to a couple of thousand years!
Sadly though, the volunteers were telling us that these trees are under threat of extinction due to a fungus that can spread very easily from people walking around. The spores of the fungus itself can remain dormant for 150 years so every care needs to be taken to stop them entering the root system of the tree. Even one spore and it’s game over but the symptoms won’t be seen for 25 years. More information about this from the Department of Conservation website.
So if you’re going to visit, please follow the instructions and clean your hiking boots at the stations before you walk around this park. Once you’ve done that, then you can admire the plethora of flora and trees in the forest like we did 🙂
There are multiple boardwalks you can walk around to immerse yourself in the forest and take it all in. Some vary from a 5 minute loop to up to an hour if you wanted to do the whole lot. Once you come out of the forest and back in to open land, make sure you clean your boots at the station again and if you have time, check out the Warkworth & District Museum. Sadly it was closed when we got there but there’s plenty of information about the history of how this place came to be and the European settlement. For more information, have a look at their website.
Brynderwyns Scenic Lookout
If you’re not in a rush to get up north there are many places you can stop off at to enjoy a scenic lookout, particularly if the weather is nice. Brynderwyns Scenic Lookout is about 45 minutes further up Highway 1 from Parry Kauri Park and you can get yourself a refreshment from the “Busy Bean Cafe” should you so wish but you may have to wait in line behind the chickens first (check the photo below)! The views over the Brynderwyn Hills and the Whangerai Harbour are very pleasing to the eye.
Kiwi North: Whangarei Museum, Kiwi House & Heritage Park
A further 40 minutes drive up Highway 1 and just a few kilometres west of Whangerai is a kiwi reserve called Kiwi North. It’s also a museum and heritage park looking after a few animals and birds. For those who don’t know, kiwis are flightless birds native to New Zealand and care is taken to preserve their numbers here. Females carry one of the biggest eggs in relation to their body in the bird world with with the eggs taking up around a third of the female’s body!
As part of the guided tour I was on, we went to the Kiwi House and were introduced to a rescued kiwi called Sparky. Sadly, the poor fellow only had one leg as he lost it in a trap but thankfully it’s now illegal to hunt them (from what the keeper was telling us). Kiwis tap the ground with their beak and “feel” for worms and food but they are nocturnal creatures so do most of their foraging at night.
Phew, what a day of travelling we had and after the final hour of driving up Highway 1, we made it to Paihia ready for our Bay of Islands Boat Trip. We went with a company called “Rock The Boat” and it was great fun with no shortage of entertainment and games to play. We also had an awesome night time kayak which I’ll tell you about shortly. What’s cool is you get to stay overnight on the water in the boat house but the sleeping quarters may be a little cramped so be prepared for that!
A New World At Night
After the sun went down, we had our night kayak tour which was quite surreal as we couldn’t really see all that much other than the lights from the boat house. As we moved further away from the boat house, our eyes adjusted and things became a little bit more clear. Things like the blanket of stars and the Milky Way above us.
Beneath us though, under the water, another mini-universe of light was happening every time we put our oars beneath the surface and paddled. Little green sparks of light appeared around the oars in the water and this is due to bioluminescent phytoplankton. What the heck is that lol?
Put simply, tiny fish that light up when they start “doing things” such as moving. It’s caused by a chemical reaction in their bodies and it creates a rather spectacular effect. You can run your hands through the water too and they will move around it, lighting up your hand in the process. It’s really amazing! Sadly, smartphone cameras aren’t good enough for pictures of this effect but you can read up a little bit more about it here.
Fun Moment Of The Day
Well, it was all fun but I’ll highlight this little game that the boat crew organised before the sun went down. They attached a wooden duck on to a 5 metre long bit of rope and tailed it behind the boat we were on. Then we took it in turns to try and shoot the duck with a paintball gun, we were allowed two shots and we needed to introduce ourselves before locking and loading. So I stepped up to the mark, “Hi, I’m Nicky and I’m not very good at paintballing”. First shot, missed by a fraction… second shot… POW, right in that wooden duck’s FACE! I qualified for the final showdown along with 3 other marksmen/markswomen.
For the final, we only had one shot to try to hit that smug duck in the beak again. I went first. Deep breath. FIRE! It was a whisker away, less than a metre for sure. The next contender might as well have just shot vertically upwards as she was nowhere near, then Kat from our group came very close too. The final contender was close but not close enough. It would be down to the judges on this one. The moment of truth… aaaand… they gave it to Kat but I have my doubts about their measuring system. I mean, it was no hawk eye let’s put it that way 😛 Well done Kat!
Wow, what a day that was, I hope you enjoyed this road trip up to the north of the North Island and a little glimpse of the Bay of Islands here.
Until the next time, take it easy
PHC Top 3 – A Chance To Win From A Growing Prize Pool
Well, whilst I’m here, I might as well take the chance to tell you about a new contest that I’ve been a part of with the Power House Creatives called @phctop3. All you need to do is tell us what your top 3 favourites for a chance to win from a growing prize pool – more info here.