Bay of Islands
We set off from Oponini on a beautiful sunny day. There is a statue just at the front of the hotel of Opo the dolphin who apparently befriended children in the bay and let them ride on his back. There is a photo of the statue with our little teddy mascot. He is permanently strapped to my rucksack and was crocheted by Andrea – it's female apparently as it has a bow on its head. You'll maybe see a few more of photos with 'teddy' as the holiday progresses.
We drove to Paihia where we would be staying for the night and first went along to the Waitangi Treaty House where we learnt all about the treaty that was signed by both the Maoris and other settlers from all over the world (but especially the UK), designed to help everyone to live in harmony rather than warring with each other.
They have a fantastic boat (can't remember the maori word for it) which is made from a kauri tree and can transport 40 people at a time and when there was a Royal visit Princess Diana was given a ride. It is beautifully carved and made and amazing to thing it is not only old but still serviceable today. There is also a maori community house (or marae) with some beautifully carved walls/posts.
Afterwards we were taken back to Paihia and dropped off at the jetty in order to board a catamaran excursion through the Bay of islands to the hole in the rock. We encountered a pod of dolphins on the way who played around the boat for a while, our view was a bit impaired though by so many people crowding round the sides it was difficult to see. There was so much swell that we weren't able to go through the rock that day. On the way back we were dropped off at a small island for an hour. We were able to walk up to the high point of the island and take some fantastic photographs of the panoramic view and also go for a paddle.
On the way back we were dropped off at Russell (New Zealand's first capitol city) for a short wander around the town, it was too late for any of the tourist attractions to be open but we saw some of the beautiful original wooden houses. We also saw a sign in a shop widow which we though typified the laid back attitude of the New Zealanders. It said 'Opening Hours – Wed to Sat 11am ish to 5pm ish'.
We caught the next ferry back to Paihai watched children jumping into the water off the pier and the boat from Paihia giving tourists rides with the parasailing. We walked along the front to our hotel for the night (part of the Scenic Hotel chain – it was very good – and good to hear we would be staying in a few more of this chain). We walked round the corner to a restaurant called the Peppercorn, for our dinner – it was excellent – a few more of our fellow travellers were already there – seemed odd though that we were last to arrive (and order) yet we were the first to get our meals!
It had been a long day, and very hot and tiring but glorious all the same.