Friday, 13 November 2015

Stray Adventures: The Northlands - arrival in Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands

So the last few days in Auckland we didn't really do much, just bought things we would need for our travels like a water filter, I've got myself a suitcase so I don't have to lug my backpack around. We changed hostels for two nights as oura was fully booked, it was a hellhole but it was cheap and did for two nights.

So Friday the 13th, a shit day for Paris and the world, but it was the beginning of our travels so it was a good day for us. As I mentioned we are travelling with Stray Bus and so we got picked up at 7.40am and met the group of people we would probably see alot of over the next week as we would normally all be doing the same route up to a certain point. Our driver was the spitting image of Scott, the manager of the Corrigin Hotel where we both worked in Australia in Perth. So that was a bit weird, but he was super cool and at age 42 had travelled to 92 different countries and lived in quite a few of them (South America for 11 years even). He was now living the dream, travelling his home country everyday, meeting lots of backpackers and getting paid for it!

We were headed up to Paihia (pronounced Pie-here-ya) which in Mouri means 'goods here' (BTW we all pronounce this word wrong, as the R in any word is a D so Mou-dee). Our driver told us all this so its actually very informative, and they learn Mouri (Mou-dee remember) as a 2nd language at school in New Zealand. Also if you see a WH in a word its pronounced as an F. So Whangerai, a place we stopped at on the way is Fangerai. There are so many Mouri place names in New Zealand that you kinda need to know this overwise you won't get anywhere! On the way to Paihia (pai-here-ya) we stopped off to see one of the largest Kauri (Koh-dee) trees in New Zealand. They are very ancient trees that are now protected but there are very little as us Europeans chopped them all down. They are also very sacred to the Mouri people. The trees are self heeling, so they strip their bark and 'bleed' to get rid of fungi etc. They live for thousands of years, this one had been around 3000 years. In fact, this tree has inspired two very big Hollywood movies, one is where the Canadian director who currently lives in New Zealand heard about a Mouri tradition where a tree takes the spirits of people when they die, the other is one of these trees sap which it bleeds, trapped a mosquito thousands of years ago and fossilised it and they managed to cut it and analyse it and it came from prehistoric times...guessed which movies yet? Yep, Avatar and Jurassic Park!

So after this we got on our way, and we arrived at our hostel at 2pm. The good thing about Stray is you are guaranteed accommodation the bad thing is its Base Hostel which has expensive WiFi and is very party-hostel, but the one in Paihia is actually not bad. It has the smallest swimming pool in the world I think lol.

We checked in and then a big group of us from the bus all decided to do the Coastal Walk our driver had told us about. It's a stunning walk along the rockpooles beach and over some small cliffs with stunning views of the bay. The reason Paihia is so famous is because it was one of New Zealand's first cities and ports after the Europeans landed, it was once the Capital (even though it's tiny). The treaty between the Sovereign and the Mouri's was signed here. There is also a small town across the bay called Russell. This town was once regarded as the 'hell hole of the Pacific. Basically where all the sailors and pirates came to trade, drink and find woman in brothels. The first pub in New Zealand was founded here and there is alot of history in this area.

So we got to know alot of people from our bus on this walk. There were a few English, Germans, Israeli, Canadian, Dutch. We met my German Doppleganger called Undina who is the same height as me, same hair, same everything basically lol it was so strange! And then we decided to head back to eat. Most people went for the $12 BBQ but we had to start saving money and doing things the cheap backpacker way and cook our own food, take our own packed lunches etc. So we just cooked sausage in tomatoes with pasta...classic lol. We had bought a pack of like 15 sausages for $6 before we left so we would be eating sausages for a while! We then socialised for a bit but we were all very tired and had an early morning the next day for our tour to Cape Reinga the next day so decided to call it a night. Plus the AWFUL cough I'd had in Singapore was back! Bleurgh, I'm beginning to wonder if its Whooping Cough again, as it has exactly the same characteristics. :-( sad face.

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