Monday, 1 October 2012

Seeing the North Island

We left Rotoura with the steam belting out of its gardens and headed for Auckland this morning. It was a long journey mostly through rolling farm lands and more sheep.  It’s official there more sheep than people here in NZ- ten times more in fact.
On the way we stopped at Waitomo to see the Glowworm caves.  It wa san interesting experience going way down into these limestone caverns and walking through a lot of stalactites and some stalagmites to get to the river. Then we took a boat in the pitch darkness sailing for about 10 minutes through the glowworms.  You can’t take any pictures here so you’ll have to make do with a picture of the cave we came out.
Then it was back on the road to Auckland, where we stayed overnight.  Next morning we set off for the Bay of Islands.  On the way we stopped at a Kauri park to see a kauri tree, the oldest of NZ’s trees by hundreds of years.  The one in this picture is around 800 years old but it is just a baby compared to some.  One kauri tree was used by the first settlers to build one of  their original homes.
Early afternoon saw us arriving at Paihai, one of the biggest towns in the Bay of Islands. By big I mean about the size of Dunoon.  The whole area is dependent, for the most part, on tourism and it has a lot to show off -beautiful scenery, loads of wee islands and dolphins.  

We set off on an afternoon of sightseeing which is actually easier to do from the water. We spent 3 hours sailing -around the bay first and then out in to the Pacific Ocean. It was a bit rough at times but well worth it.  We were lucky enough to see a pod of bottle-nose dolphins and spend about half an hour with them.  Some folk on our boat actually went swimming with them. 
Then we sailed out to the Hole in the Rock.  It’s an amazing sight. Sometimes boats can sail through but unfortunately the currents were too strong this afternoon.

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