Sunday, 15 November 2015

Bay of Islands - Urupukapuka Island and Orca Whales

So we woke up expecting the weather to be shitty, it was cloudy but no sign of rain just yet. Today we had booked a tour on a boat around a few islands in the Bay of Islands which then dropped us off on a completely private island to enjoy walks around it all day and then get picked up in the evening. It sounded awesome and the reason we had gone with it rather than the other tours that were offered is because it was a full day trip rather than just a 2hour trip like most of them, and we'd gotten it for over $20 lower than what the other trips were worth - score!

We got down to the ferry port and were deliciously told that the bad weather had skipped a day and so it was going to be fine and sunny from 10am all day...woo! So we chatted to a couple of people who were on our bus yesterday while we waited to board the boat and then we were off. They took us to some caves, around some of the islands, showed us some local native bird life along some of the black volcanic sea rocks and then someone radioed in from another boat that, nope we couldn't see dolphins today, but we could see Orca Whales (Killer Whales)!!! Apparently whenever these Orca whales very seldomly enter the Bay the boats aren't allowed to then go and view dolphins as they lead the killer whales to them and then, poor dolphins...they became dinner :-(

So we took a speedy trip around to the island they were swimming off and because there were already 3 boats around them we couldn't get closer than around 200 metres from them but we were told it was a pod of 3, one was a baby. They swam past in front of us and we could see their fins. They didn't jump much but it was pretty awesome to see them out in the wild.

Then our last stop was Urupukapuka Island, where the boat dropped us at 10am and we were given a map of tons of coastal and bush walks on the island...I think we must of walked the entire island and over 15km that day!! The Bay they dropped us at was like something out of Lord of the rings, a curved Bay with a steep rolling green hill and one lone massive tree in the middle. Once you climbed over there was just lush forrest, rolling green hills, and stunning views of crystal blue bays lining the coast. The highest peaks gave views over the Bay of Islands and the cliff walks gave viws of sheer drops, volcanic coastlines and sea caves. It was possibly one of the most stunning walks we've both ever been on and that's saying something! We must of been walking for 3 hours before we reached the halfway view point. At this view point we happened, by sheer luck, to just look out over Indico Bay and see another pod of killer whales, this time jumping from the was amazing!

We then met some people from another boat on a quick stopover (the only people we'd seen so far) who directed us to Paradise Bay, which was down some very steep forest track, where we stopped and had our packed lunches. One a beautiful beach that overlooked more stunning bays on other islands. And we watched a poor lass trying to navigate a small boat back to a bigger boat in a teeny skirt, a boat full of all old people, mainly men perving at her bending down trying to start the motor, almost capsizing. Poor lass. We then took a less steep way back to the viewpoint and set off on another track which led us to another part of the island where there was Urupukapuka Bay, a stunning deserted Bay...filled with plenty of grazing sheep! Only in New Zealand can you share a beach with sheep!

The walk led us on past more stunning bays and coves for another 3 hours before we headed back to where our boat would pick us up and take us back to Paihia. It had been a glorious day and one of the prettiest islands I've ever explored and it was amazing exploring it with no one else around, a truely Robinson Crusoe type experience.

On the boat out of the Bay, we saw plenty of stingray in the crystal clear sea water, which the driver told us were all hiding from the two groups of Orca still in the Bay, as were the Dolphins apparently. They all take to shallow waters or small caves so the Orca can't find them until they leave the Bay. Apparently we were very lucky to see them as Orca hadn't been spotted in the Bay for quite a while!

That evening we were starving and exhausted so we had a very backpacker meal (spaghetti and tuna on toast with an egf on top) and then socialised with some of the people from our bus until it was a decent enough time to go to bed. We were leaving on the bus back to Auckland at 2pm the next day along with some new people from another Stray bus which we met the next day before we left. And everyone was all headed down to Raglan on Tuesday so there would be a massive bus load of us!

The next day was a wash out, rain all day so we all checked out and just hung around in the hostel until the bus back to Auckland which only took us 3hours.

That evening we stayed with some French guys Pierrick had made friends with before, who had a house in Ponsonby so we wouldn't have to pay for accommodation. Then it was up at the crack of dawn again on Tuesday to head down to Raglan with the new supermassive Stray group!

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