We all need a weekend away every now and again, and I'm no exception, so I took a Friday off work and organised a 3 day trip up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands to get away from the city life in Auckland for a while.
Anyone who is in Auckland, whether backpackers or residents, just has to make the trip up to Paihia and seriously don't spend too little time up there, it's a fantastic place which is so relaxing and I really wish I could have stayed longer.
The weekend started off nice and easily with our group of four heading to the Jucy rentals office to pick up our car for the 3 day trip up north. The staff made the rental process very painless and quick and we were soon heading out in our Suzuki Swift; it was a small car but incredibly nice to drive, spotlessly clean and just big enough for the four of us to sit comfortably and fit our bags in the boot.
We set off nice and early so that we could take it easy on the drive up and still arrive in plenty of time to check in to The Bay Adventurer and head out on the boat trip we'd organised for the afternoon.
Because we'd travelled up as two couples we chose to stay in one of the apartments at the Bay Adventurer and that was a great choice for us. We had a one bedroom apartment with a bathroom, basic cooking facilities in a small kitchenette and a second double bed in the large lounge room which had a TV (perfect for me, because there was no way I was going to miss American Idol... sad I know!). We were all very pleasantly surprised by the apartment and with the balcony which overlooked the swimming pool and hot tub.
After a short rest we headed to the Explore NZ office and got our tickets for the awesome Discover The Bay Cruise, dolphins, fish, beautiful scenery, the Hole in The Rock and a friendly and funny crew... A fantastic way to spend the afternoon.
That night I took my fella to my favourite eaterie in Paihia which is located on Kings Road just down from our hostel. THE Best burgers in my opinion! Make sure you try them out at The Beach House Cafe / Bar.
We slept well that night after all that sea air and had to get up at stupid o'clock the next morning to make sure we were on time for our Dune Rider trip up to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand. This was another Explore NZ trip and possibly the best all round day trip I've ever been on. We all learnt a lot that day about New Zealand History, saw incredible views from the bus windows, had fun sandboarding down huge sand dunes as well as feeling good about ourselves by offsetting our carbon footprints a bit by planting a tree at Cape Reinga.
Our final day in Paihia and we decided to head to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where my Kiwi fella had a very proud and patriotic moment at this important place in New Zealands History. After enjoying the sunshine, the views, the history and a very tasty coffee at the cafe we slowly headed back towards Auckland. We'd intended to stop at the Whangerei Bird Recovery Centre, which is Nomads New Zealands preferred charity, but unfortunately the sanctuary part was closed that day so we headed instead to Puhoi to possibly my favourite shop in the world - The Art of Cheese!
It was an awesome weekend away and I urge everyone to spend some time in Paihia and Northland. The Bay of Islands are stunning and no trip to Paihia is complete without a boat trip out in the Bay so get in touch with Explore NZ to see what trips they offer at the time of year you choose to visit!