Happy Campers in Paihia (Day 122)
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
We slept well in Jeff, our Wicked Camper. As we had no food and we certainly didn’t want Tim to develop “Hangry”, we found a café just up the road for breakfast. The lady who served us looked just like Meryl Streep. It was a great place, good food, nice staff and a very weird looking “Rabbit” car outside with large toy rabbits and a big rubber skeleton inside it. Not sure what that was about!
We travelled north, focussed on getting to Bay of Islands (yes, it is on Lonely Planet’s 500 list). The scenery as usual was amazing, lots of beautiful rolling hills covered in Pampas Grass of different hues. We have seen many plants growing naturally here such as Agapanthus (originated from South Africa), Flax, Red Tussock Grass, Tree ferns and Crocosmia, some of which are classed as weed here and we have to spend a pretty penny to buy for our domestic gardens in the UK.
A quick detour to buy food we eventually arrived at 3:30pm (We did stay in the café for quite a long time – lovely sitting, relaxing reading the paper and letting the time float by). I’d found a very reasonably priced camping site within walking distance to Paihia, known as “The Jewel of the Bay of Islands”. The campsite is very laid back, just put cash in an envelope, with Car Registration and date, and then pop it into a gap in the fence.
Our neighbours at the campsite, a young couple Kristy and Dareen from the UK, have already travelled for over a year and shared some of their wonderful experiences with us. They spent a few weeks in Japan and gave us some great tips. It is definitely worthwhile doing a mix of Airbnb / Camping / Hostels as we meet different kinds of people and receive different kinds of tips.
It started to rain so they disappeared into their van and we decided to walk into Paihia. It’s quite touristy; lots of recreational activities here, especially if you are into the water sports. Apparently you can paddle a sea kayak around the 144 islands – that sounds idyllic. Sadly the weather has turned, it’s raining now and tomorrow it is predicted to be quite windy. I don’t think my Kayaking skills will be up to it. The Bay became touristy after an American writer and fisherman Zane Grey wrote in 1926 that the Bay of Islands are an “Angler’s Eldorado” with the world’s biggest striped marlins. Fishermen across the world came running…or sailing.
So what else is Paihia famous for apart from the Bay of Islands? Jane, do you know?
On Horotutu Beach in Paihia, the first report of a game of cricket in New Zealand was mentioned by the Rev. Henry Williams in his diary from December 1832. A couple of years later in 1835, Charles Darwin who was on his epic circumnavigation of the Earth in HMS Beagle called into the Bay of Islands. He also witnessed a game of cricket which was being played by freed Māori slaves and boys from the Missionary.
Now back from our walk relaxing with a nice G & T. Hey, we don’t need to slum it even though we are camping in Jeff the wicked campervan. Early start tomorrow so better get dinner and an early night to bed.