John & Anne Wiley

2017/02/12

Bay Of Islands

One name came up with everyone Anne talked to about NZ before and during our trip: Bay Of Islands. That’s actually why we rented a car and drove the hour and some from Auckland to Whangarei, where I got to fly GA. So after a tasty breakfast at the Dickens Inn, the extra hour drive to Paihia helped her feel better about not having flown GA yet. It is, as predicted, beautiful.

9567 Paihia

9567 Paihia

For anyone who likes boating or water sports of any kind, it’s The place to be. We enjoyed an especially romantic moonrise dinner at a place called Alongside, on a short pier out over the water.

210734 Moonrise

210734 Moonrise

With the great weather compared with most of our trip so far, of course we wanted to fly GA over the Bay! So the next day we made the short drive inland to Kerikeri, and went to the B.O.I. airport there. After much driving around and talking to everyone we could find, we finally got Swan Air on the phone only to discover that GA would be impossible during our time there. So after checking out the town we went back to Paihia, and hiked around the area.

9625 Waterfront Trail

9625 Waterfront Trail

We found a quiet spot where this tree was struggling to hold onto a crumbing bluff over the beach.

9665 Desperate Grip

9665 Desperate Grip

I’m no botanist, but those red flowers look like the “Bottlebrush” tree we park our car under at the SB Airport. There are many of them along Paihia Beach.

9638 Gentle Paihia Beach

9638 Gentle Paihia Beach

We explored several long stretches of beach, each offering different views along the coast…

9572 Coast View

9572 Coast View

…out to the assorted tiny fantasy islands…

9578 Fantasy Island

9578 Fantasy Island

…and beyond them out across the Bay.

9612 Islands to Bay

9612 Islands to Bay

Oh how we longed to fly GA low and slow over this area! Both of us used to enjoy water sports, but that interest has waned over the years and all but vanished since we started flying GA. So rather than invest hours and dollars on the water, after the second night we drove back toward Auckland and paused atop a hill for this look back across the Bay.

9675 Almost Aerial

9675 Almost Aerial

This was the closest to that yearned-for aerial perspective we were able to get. Along the highway we passed through an enchanted marsh that had us wondering if it was some sort of mangrove swamp.

104828 Mangrove Swamp?

104828 Mangrove Swamp?

We didn’t try to find out, instead keeping up a steady pace to get through Auckland before rush hour on our way to another place highly recommended to us: Tauranga. Along that drive was this beautiful river (I guess the Ohinemuri), where we took a brief stop to soak in the sights and sounds.

9736 River Roadside

9736 River Roadside

The river “energy” was familiar to all we’ve known, yet the palm ferns and other unfamiliar plants made it all the more magical. After this refreshing pause from the long drive, we arrived at a Tauranga beach hotel before dark.

194414 Beach & Tree

194414 Beach & Tree

After so much driving, it was simply glorious to be rooted again! I sighed deeply typing that just now, recalling how welcome this spot was to weary travelers.

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