Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 3, 4, & 5ish: The Northland: Whangarei and Paihia


So today's blog will cover me and Ashley's Northland adventures, coming to a dramatic and suspenseful halt on the eve of our adventurous day tomorrow.  Oh and just for your information, we are not only traversing the globe 11000 kilometers away from the US, but we are also in the future.  Our today is your tomorrow.  Keep that in mind.

We left the city.

Personally, I had been looking forward to this time for years.  The majestic sheep-filled grasslands of New Zealand have wandered in my dreams ever since I saw the Lord of the Rings.  And now Ashley and I were driving through them...  It was particularly amazing how GREEN the grass actually was, from a distance the hills look like well manicured lawns.  Up-close, however, the hills looked almost as if they were covered in grassy ripples about 1-2 feet apart. Weird, but cool. I really regret not bringing my car adaptor for my Ipod...  our brief meanderings through the hills were unfortunately not filled with light-hearted music from the Shire (the music was playing in my heart though).

As expected, the hills were filled with sheep.  And cows.  I've seen plenty of both through my driving experience within California and Washington, but I get the impression that the sheep in New Zealand are pretty lazy.  It surprised me how many of the sheep were sitting down.  It was hard to keep from laughing because sheep are pretty funny looking as it is.  But seeing seated sheep is much more entertaining.  

When planning our first week in New Zealand, I thought it would be kinda cool to leave a night or two open so we could adjust our schedule as necessary and maybe even spend a night on the beach in our tent. Unfortunately, it rains a lot in New Zealand. I left a night open between our hotel/hostel reservations in Auckland and Paihia, so I figured we would stop somewhere in between. 

We landed in the Whangarei* cafe/information center around 3pm and finished watching a Harry Potter movie from the night before.  NOTE: their cappuccinos are typically very wet and have chocolate powder on top.  Whangarei is about 45 min south of Pahia and is the biggest city in the Northland, so we figured it would be a good place to stay for the night before heading to Paihia the next day. After losing Ashley's purse, which contained both of our passports and all her credit cards and drivers license, we eventually found a place to stay at a holiday park on the north end of Whangarei. We looked at two different places**, and when we asked about the pricing for their tent campsites both receptionists looked at us like we were crazy (given, it was after dark and raining).  

*(In New Zealand the "Wh" is pronounced like a "ph".  phonetically: "fung gar ("g" in good) eh (like in canada)) 
** I should also note that as you drive north on Motorway 1, backpackers lodging and holiday parks are extremely common.  It's hard to go more than 20 minutes without finding a place to park your campa (campervan) or grab a bunk-bed.  

After setting up our new tent and getting relatively situated, we got in our swimsuits and excitedly headed for the hot tub which turned out to be a balmy 80 degrees F.  Other than the cold hot tub, the place was very accommodating and the hosts were extremely nice. 

The night was quite rainy, but we stayed very dry and comfortable in our new Marmot Limelight 2 (thanks to the Thayers!!).

God was very gracious in our stupidity, and we found Ashley's purse back at the information center un-touched.  We realized later that it was such a blessing for us to have lost her purse because otherwise we wouldn't have stayed where we did and went to this amazing church!  We were 2 of the 35-or-so people in the small church, and we were welcomed like family.  We stayed for tea and cookies after the service and ended up staying and chatting for almost 4 hours with the pastor and his family (the Jellicks) and another church family (the Bradleys) who were both incredibly friendly and giving.  We enjoyed a lunch of baked goods from the pastor's bakery while talking and laughing about our cultural differences.  The Jellicks were awesome enough to invite us to stay with them on our way back down to Auckland, so we'll be staying there tomorrow night.  

[[[ So instead of dreading writing the rest of this blog like I would a research paper the night before it's due, I'm going to be significantly more brief.]]]

We eventually made it up to the youth hostel in Paihia and it is very nice. 

The Bay of Islands reminds me of Stillwater cove in Pebble Beach and the San Juan Islands mixed with a little Hawaii.  Pretty awesome. We walked around the main streets last night and had dinner at this cool pizzeria, and played Carcassone at the dinner table (an addictive habit).  

Today we woke up and worked on the blog for awhile, and then went for a sweet hike on the beach.
"Isn't it weird to think about how each of those is a little animal that has a life.... And lives here ALL the time?!"


Tomorrow will be cool, we're going to the northernmost tip of NZ.

Ok I'm done.  Oh yeah, one more thing... The food is SO expensive here.  What the heck?


  1. dude at least you don't have to tip for food, right?

    i'm loving this blog, keep it up!


  2. You both are fantastic and for some reason every time I read your entries, I tear up...I am so proud of you both! And, quite jealous of your adventures. Beautiful pictures, beautiful souls, both of you. I am so happy to be reading. Aaaand I miss you of course. Aaaand I am so happy to have a great sister...aaaaand brother :). LOVE YOU!!!! xoxo