One thing I´m loving about our travels (apart from weird keyboards where the buttons don´t do what you want them to – especially tricky in Japan) is the amount of stars we can see. Though mainly they´re different to ours, Orion has made an appearance (upside down), and if it´s cloudy, you can get yourself to Waitomo and sail in a little boat through a cave with millions of glowworms hanging from the ceiling to get the same effect – absolutely magical.
From Waitomo and the glowworms we headed north, through Auckland and out the other side as far as we could be bothered to drive in one day, ending up in an unpronounceably named town called Whangerei. We had planned on staying in a gorgeous little hostel out of town that offered horse riding, but when we eventually found it, it was like a creaky hotel from an episode of Scooby Doo, complete with odd caretaker and crazy lady who was living in the hut in the garden, so we left smartly and found ourselves a much nicer place in town run by a lovely couple (though we didn´t see the wife who probably wisely left her husband to deal with all the backpackers) and a multilingual golden retriever called Sage who was in charge of cuddles. It also had a bath (equals heaven) but some selfish bugger locked themselves in it pretty much all evening so I am still dreaming of a steamy bath with lots of nice smellies.
The next day we carried on north to the Bay of Islands, and to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where NZ as we know it was born out of a treaty between the Brits and lots of Maori chiefs. Fantastic place with a real sense of history, both Maori and European, side by side.
We spent a few days loitering around, and went on a great day long boat trip where we managed to see lots more orca close up – this time a mother teaching her juvenile to hunt sting rays, very successfully as it turned out, though not for the sting ray.
We did meet a few rays with better luck at lunchtime when we stopped on one of the many islands and went paddling – when there are orca about the rays seek shelter in the shallow sandy bays where the orca can´t go. They seemed pretty happy to come to within about a metre of us, and I´m going to leave it there before the inappropriate Steve Irwin jokes start bubbling to the surface.
So, add in lots of common and bottlenose dolphins as well, oh and a friend from the UK (hello Tan) and his girlfriend who were, by complete coincidence, on the same boat trip as us and you´ve got a great day out.
Tan´s girlfriend Rachel must get a special mention for lending me her ghds before we all went out that night to drink ourselves silly. I´ve had to cope without them for the last three months and was pretty giddy with the excitement of having lovely straight hair again. She´s a keeper that one.
So, barring a very drunken night in Auckland with some Irish guys, that´s been our NZ trip. It´s only really now that I´m so glad we´ve got this blog and the brief diary I´m keeping, otherwise we´d just not be able to remember it all.
I have loved our time in NZ more that I ever thought I could. It´s a place with real heart, the most laid back, friendly and welcoming people I´ve ever met, and some of the most glorious scenery. Awesome. We´ll be back.
P.S. It´s Fang-er-eye. Clearly.