Caption: Seagul dances.
Bay of Islands, well they dont call the name for no reason. After our departure from Cape Reinga, our final stop for the day with additional 2 hours drive is Bay of Islands, another well known tourist site and of course for the local as well. My friends and even my dad have been there and when you google top attraction in New Zealand, it wont slip top list. If you love dolphin and boats, get on board GreatSights they will show you around. Or something a bit more active, team up with fishing boats, pay some money and you will have a great catch, with guide provided, baits and a caption.
Of course we were lucky enough to travel in summer, the water is relatively not freezing and the sun stays bright until 8pm (day light saving). We followed our travel books (Lonely Planet and Bugs) to MouseTrap hostel and booked ourselves in this cozy, rustic yet full of character twin bed rooms for 2 nights in the town of Paihia where the manager/owner lives just next door. Two-level hostel with dorm and private rooms, wooden floor, spacious outdoor seating area and even a BBQ machine, while upstairs balcony let you catch the sun and glimpse of the beach, the MouseTrap is indeed very cute.
There’s about 144 little islands in the bay area for all who love to be near the near, like the smell of the ocean and sea salt on their hair, catch their dinner or just enjoy the slow beach life, this is the place. Paihia is of course tourist friendly town, in fact the area is not populated by many residents, mostly senior citizens haha but it has that laid back countryside feel. Across Paihia is town of Russel, smaller and too touristy for us. The bay also has an important historic meaning to the entire country, it’s where the Treaty of Waitangi taken place and guess what we were there just a few days before the Waitangi Day, could have ‘caught’ the Prime Minister and officials.
Our mission is simple have beach picnic, I put my head into finishing reading a book while my boyfriend enjoying the cold water, dipping in and out and just be lazy. We were in no mood to fish or bother with the dolphin, minimal is our thing after long day drive and living in the city for a long time, this is our urban escape. The day is simple, head to the beach and just be there.
As night fall, we hit the local restaurant for some food, have local produce, walk back to hang with travelers in the hostel and go to bed, next day the same. Although we admit we could be more active but it’s charming enough to be lazy around here and Russel, the town is just lame.
Certainly anyone who do not wish to be lazy, there’s plenty of things to do, just ask the hostel manager, he will get 10.00NZD off almost all of the advertised stuff on his notice board. One might need to wake up early for the day out activities though. Check out some info website to choose your activities.
Dining out here is pretty simple, restaurants are lined up along the beach front just pick and choose. We prefer the Swiss Cafe & Grill for some freshly cooked New Zealand green lips mussels, served with light coconut cream sauce, local wine from the winery in the area or the Vinnie fish&chips takeaway shop along the shops.
Caption: Bowl of New Zealand green lips mussels.
Caption: You do need to buy tomatoes ketchup or aoili sauce.
Or feeling like you can make use of the hostel kitchen, there’s a countdown supermarket at the beginning of Piahia township entrance from motorway, a kilo of mussels cost around 3.50NZD, all you will then need are garlic, onions, parsley, lemon, and a bottle of your favourite white wine, mine is Oysters Bay, cook it up and drink all the wine.
Caption: Captured by iphone4 (from all and below)
Whatever you do, dont eat at the place called MAKO, I thought it was good, well at least looked interestingly enough, but the fish&chips were not fresh, so much batter, chips were also tasteless and pricy. The staff is rude and filled with gangster lookalike guests, we left after a few bites. Paihia was lovely, perhaps a bit touristy but the beach and the bay won us over, by day it’s packed with the sun ray, seaside atmos that all of us lying on the sand cant resist and by night the sea is quiet yet still warmth in the air and filled with laughters from those who visit and stay-on the place. Some tourists fell in love and decide to work at MouseTrap in trade off with their free accommodation and able to set sail everyday. Jealous!
- Northland New Zealand drive, places I’ve been: Cape Reinga (Te wahi tutakitaki)
- Kate Sylvester – thời trang New Zealand
- Off season, off the heat & stay cool
- Lazy kimchi soup
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