Pahia Ė an absolute jewel as yet undiscovered by the tourist hoards. We love it! Pahia is a quite small beach town situated in the Bay of Islands (home to over 100 islands). Two mail streets, each about 3 blocks long. One large block has a rabbit warren of alleys and byways behind the streetside stores holding more stores, cafes, butcher shop, laundry, etc. We have definitely saved the best for last. There are two tours here that I had wanted to go on a couple of years ago, but we were unable to get up here then, so I'm bound and determined to do them this time. I immediately book the Cape Reinga day bus tour and the Hole in the Rock boat tour.
Friday, we decide to drive over to Kerikeri for a look around, stopping off first at the Waianga Historic Trust for a look-see. This is where the original Declaration of Independence and the Waianga Treaty were signed. The grounds are glorious, as are so many of the parks and grounds here. We head for the War Canoes. Good Lord!!! They are huge! I never imagined. They hold 150 men each and it takes 100 men to carry one. No nails. Beautiful carvings on the sides and both ends. Next is the Governors House. This is where the actual documents were signed. The original house is really quite small, only 4 rooms for a family of 2 adults and 4 children. Additions were made later and some of the walls have actually been pulled away showing the actual construction. A few of the original furnishing remain, but mostly it is filled with various period pieces. Next is the Maori Meeting Place. A single room almost as large as the original governors house. Totems line the walls and stand in the center. It is very much a place of reflection and after removing our shoes and sitting on a bench the lights slowly lower and a recording begins explaining the meaning of many of the features of the various totems. I've noticed that the top part of most of them is a face with a large, open mouth with the tongue hanging out. Later I asked and was told that in earlier times this was a challenge, but today it indicates a greeting. Well, we've spent four hours here which means thereís no time for Kerikeri today. As we leave we notice there is a golf course on the Trust grounds so we decide to drive up there. Wow! What a course. Half of the holes are along the coast. After talking to the pro for a while, we head for the clubhouse for a drink. People are friendly and an older Maori gentleman asks to join us. Heís quite a character and invites Matt to join him and some friends for a game.
Saturday is the bus tour and I can't wait. We're picked up in front of the house at 7:20 am and aren't due to return until 6:30 pm. We've booked both tours through Fullers, and while our driver is knowledgeable I wouldn't want to be on another one of his tours. Our mid morning stop is at 10:00 and it seems as if all the Fuller drivers race to see who'll get there first. Consequently, we fly by many of the sites heís pointing out. We arrive at Ninety Mile Beach, which is really only 64 miles long, and the bus heads off the road and onto the beach. Itís weird. Vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach; itís even been designated as a highway. People on the beach have the right-of-way. We spend the next 40 miles traveling on the beach. Cool! As we head back for the highway we go through an area of huge and semi-huge sand dunes. The bus stops, we get out, the driver produces some sand boards (like surf boards, only shorter) and some of the group climb the dunes, lie belly down on the boards and surf the dunes. Lunch is a wonderful Bar-b-q of lamb and chicken. We've met the nicest couple, from Australia, and have been chatting with them quite a bit. Itís a small group, so people are easily meeting one another. Finally, the destination Ė Cape Reinga. This is at the top of the north island and where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. What an incredible site. Totally awesome. The Maori believe the spirits come here and jump off into the afterlife so it is a spiritual site to them. You can actually see the white of the waves coming from 2 different directions and crashing against each other in the bluest of blue water from the high cliffs where we are. The wind is blowing, but itís not a cold wind. (I'll have pictures of it online when I get the site up.) I could stand here all day, but too soon it is time to head home. Our final stop was at a tourist stop called The Orange Grove where we were treated to samples of fresh pure Mandarin juice Ė delicious Ė and mandarin sections. We bought some juice, climbed back on board and 30 minutes later we were dropped off at home.
Monday we wake to more wonderful sunshine, and we're taking the Hole in the Rock cruise this afternoon. Meanwhile, as we have each morning, we wander down to the next block where there is this terrific little bakery for a fresh turnover. Matt gets the apple, and I ask for the boysenberry, which is really cherry. *g Then we walk down to one of the outdoor cafes and order coffee (Matt) and hot chocolate (me) and sit in the sunshine and eat our turnovers. What a life. At 1:15 we board the boat, a double cat, and head out. The Hole in the Rock is just that Ė a huge hole/tunnel that the water has worn in the rock. If the sea is calm enough we can go right through the rock. Next to it is a cave that should become another hole in about 150,000 years. Itís a fabulous day to be on the water. The sun is shining, the skies are blue (dotted with the ever-present clouds), thereís a slight breeze, and the sea isn't too choppy. Alas, as we arrive at the Hole the captain says itís just not calm enough to go through the rock (drat), but we can back the boat most of the way into the cave, which was kind of cool. On the way back we start talking to another couple from California and decide to have dinner together at Bistro40. Home, shower, change and off we go. After a terrific dinner we said good-bye to new friends and decided to talk a stroll along the beach. Thursday, the 28th is fast approaching and I really don't want to leave.
Matt plays gold Tuesday morning (he said the course was the most beautiful he'd ever played AND he played his best game ever breaking 80 finally with a 78 even though he put one ball into the water) and in the afternoon we go to Kerikeri for some sightseeing and shopping. We stopped at the Orange Grove on the way home for more juice.
We've decided to leave Wednesday afternoon so we'll have plenty of time to get to the airport Thursday. Also, we hope to be able to meet up with Ben for our final dinner here. We clean the house and take off, arriving on the outskirts of Auckland around 5:00 pm. We check into our motel and Matt turns on the TV to listen to the news. I pick up the TV Guide Ė and almost drop dead of a heart attack. Oh my God. This just can't be. No way. Today is Wednesday, the 28th of November Ė but I was sure Thursday was the 28th. We were supposed to fly out at 2:00 this afternoon. No, thatís just impossible. Grabbing my calendar and our trip folder I just want to cry. Mattís looking at me as if I were growing another head or something. Whatís wrong? Whatís wrong, he asks. Oh sheesh!
ÖÖ.to be continued *vbg