BootsnAll Travel Network


We arrived in Auckland and it is the most disappointing place we have been to. Katie wasn’t disappointed because she had been before and knew what to expect but all the tourist bumf makes it sound really wonderful and in fact it is a rather run down and grubby place. The shops aren’t very good and the hostel we stayed in wasn’t very nice. So it was a good thing we were only there for one night on our way to spend to Xmas at Paihia. We are however back there for 4 nights before we fly to Chile. The hostel advertised a free dinner but it turned out to be tuna and sweetcorn pasta (ugh!) so we went to a Japanese place and had a very good meal instead, which was quite reasonable. Amazingly, we discovered afterwards that it had been voted the best hostel in NZ. It is called Nomad’s Fat Camel and we had decided that it was definitely the worst hostel we had stayed at in NZ! It is very cheap but it is rather run down, and dirty, there are no decent cooking facilities, there is a shortage of toilets and showers and it is not in a very nice situation. I guess it is a question of what you are looking for really. If you want somewhere really cheap in pole position for consuming vast amounts of alcohol then it is probably heaven. But we thought it was nearer to purgatory.
We got the bus the next day to Paihia and it is a really nice place. Our hostel is very near to the beach and there are lovely views across the Bay of Islands. We found a Woolworth’s and stocked up on Christmas goodies (chocs, mince pies, cheese, salmon etc) the plan being to eat on the beach. There are all sorts of water based activities available here including kayaking, sailing and various other types of boating. Lots of boat trips on offer as well to various islands and to swim with dolphins.
On Christmas Eve we went to Waitangi which is only about 15 minutes walk from here. It is where the Maoris and the Brits signed the Treaty in 1840 which is supposed to be the founding of NZ. You can go round Treaty House where a Scottish guy called James Busby lived who played a major role in the drawing up and signing of the Treaty. He was also the first person to start a vineyard in NZ having grown grapes in Oz before coming here. The house has a wonderful position surrounded by lawns on a cliff top so we spent a bit of time there. We had intended to take a walk to some nearby waterfalls but the path was closed so we went back to the hostel and spent the afternoon on the beach. I think if I lived near a nice beach I could waste a huge amount of time sitting watching the boats etc. After dinner we went to a carol singing session on a green near the beach. I was determined to sing some carols at some point and finally got my wish. Unfortunately, there were other acts on the stage as well including a rapper called Isaac who did a bit of a Christmas message thing which was awful.
Christmas Day was nice and sunny initially and we sat on the beach and opened our stockings – a hiking sock each filled with odds and bobs. I gave Katie some new socks to replace some that are full of holes, a new T-shirt (ditto) and a Spanish-English dictionary (for when we get to Chile) and a badge that says “I love tomato sauce”. I had various useful things in mine including some mud soap from Rotorua, some blueberry jam, a 2008 diary and best of all a titanium spoon and fork! Then we decided to have a swim before it rained. Even got Katie into the water (she is a bit of a wimp!) and it was reasonably warm. We had a bit of a walk along the beach and then we had our Christmas lunch sitting on the sand. We had a bottle of wine, smoked salmon, brie, nuts, salad, chocs etc before it started to rain. Then it rained really hard for the rest of the day so we did the Xmas usual thing – had a game of Scrabble! Later in the evening it stopped raining and we walked along the beach to a bar where they had a huge aquarium with fish, lobsters and some very ugly eels.
It was good to escape from the hostel where everyone seemed intent on watching an 8 hour marathon of “Family Guy” (an American cartoon if you have mercifully escaped it so far). It is mildly amusing for a half an hour or so but 8 hours!
Boxing Day was bright and sunny with a good breeze, ideal for our day on the tall ship, R. Tucker Thompson. We caught the ferry across to Russell (about 20 mins) and boarded the ship at about 10am. We helped to put the sails up and we fairly whizzed along as the wind was so strong. We sailed past Waitangi and out into the bay before stopping at a sheltered bay on an island for lunch. We went ashore in an inflatable dinghy and the water was so beautiful and clear I had to have a swim. It was very refreshing! We stayed on shore for about an hour and the crew did a BBQ on board for us for when we got back to the ship. Once on board however people were swinging into the sea from a rope on the yard arm so we had to have a go. It was great, flying through the air and letting go and falling into the sea. But we got quite cold in the wind so had to get dressed. After lunch of chicken, salad, couscous and bread we sailed back to Russell. Katie and I put on harnesses and went right out to the front of the boat on the bowsprit which was quite exciting as we were going very fast. Back at Russell we had a nice of cup of tea (very English!) and got the ferry back to Paihia.
Today we are heading further north, to a place calld Kaitiai for a few days. It is close to 90 mile beach which we will be visiting tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good time at Christmas.

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One Response to “Christmas”

  1. Ian & Sue White Says:

    Hi Ann & Katie
    Happy Christmas and New Year!
    Thanks for all the great blogs – we’re having a good time on your amazing trip sitting at the pc!
    Looking forward to the next instalment.
    Lots of Love
    Ian, Sue, Alex, Lucy, Anni & Sal x

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