Onwards and Upwards – to the Bay of Islands

We woke on Monday morning to the sound of the sea. And to our view of the sea. We lay in bed and watched the sun rise across Otamure Beach. Our bedroom/luton window gave us a grandstand view. It is a wonderful location, and we’ll have to go back sometime when we have more time to do nothing. After breakfast we went for a walk along the beach and around the headland to the next beach – the one of the photo used by DOC to show the camp. Later we chatted with our neighbours and the morning passed. We were moving on, but reluctantly. The sun was shining, but there was a keen westerly wind blowing across the bay. We enjoyed lunch sheltering on our steps looking out across the beach. Finally we hitched up the car and headed off – back along the bendy road to SH1, and north again.

We stopped at Kawakawa, home to the most famous toilets in the country – created by an artist named Hundertwasser. They are a working work of art, and wonderful – especially inside.

From the outside they look a bit inconspicuous and incongruous in the main street of a Northland town. Let me put it like this, a small Martian Embassy would look no weirder. We drove on, passing turnoffs to Russell and Paihia. At last we were in the Bay of Islands, even if there was no bay in sight, let alone islands. We stopped at a parkover place just past Kerikeri. There had been no answer on the phone, and there was nobody around, so we moved on. We headed back towards Paihia and BOI RV Park, an informal park for self-contained motorhomes. It was cheap, with a cheaper rate for NZMCA members. No toilets or showers or kitchen or laundry facilities. Which was great, it’s annoying having to pay for stuff we don’t need. Power, water, a level place to park, a clothes line, off the road, somewhere secure – these are nice things to have. The place is in a bit of a gully in the bush, a couple of kms short of Paihia. The dish found the satellite, and somehow we had mobile phone reception, so we had what we needed. We arrived on dusk, and were soon set up and cosy.

We awoke on Tuesday to a nice morning and a temperature of 12 degrees, a good place to start. It felt a bit like spring, and spring cleaning was the order of the day. Wyn got the washing machine going and got the sheets through. It seemed a good chance to wash my old jeans as well so it became a shorts and sandals day – yahoo! The car was looking very sad after being towed on wet roads, so that got a good wash. Then Suzi got a good wash as well. Inside the car got cleaned for good measure – nothing escaped. The afternoon was half gone by the time we headed off to collect our mail in Kerikeri. We parked up there and had a walk around and found the Postshop. They only had half our mail which was a bit of a worry but we didn’t worry. We spotted a New World supermarket, so headed there for a few supplies. I couldn’t believe my eyes – they had Sanitarium Bran Bix. They were the first shop in the entire North Island that I’d seen my breakfast cereal in. The woman at the checkout was friendly and helpful, a lovely change from the standard “how has your day been?” stuff. Up the road we stopped for petrol at the BP, and a keen kid appeared to pump the fuel – it was an actual service station! We were getting to like Kerikeri already. Since we still hadn’t seen any bay or islands we continued past our RV Park the couple of kms to Paihia for a quick orientation and view. Satisfied that there are lots of bays and some islands we headed back home on dusk. My daughter was flying up from Dunedin the next morning for a visit in the school holidays, by herself for the first time. It was good to have a talk to her to check on arrangements; we were sure she’d be fine but fathers like to worry a bit.

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