Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Zealand: Bay of Islands


We drove north from Auckland to Paihia on the Bay of Islands on Thursday, planning for a restful Thursday evening, to be followed by a "dolphin discovery" boat tour on Friday morning at 9 AM. Unfortunately, this is what the view looked like from the balcony of our hostel at 8 AM Friday morning:

Jake, the manager of 'The Mousetrap' called 'em up and determined the tours were cancelled for the day, and rescheduled us for Saturday. There was nothing for it but to eat some meat pies and read a book in the comfort of the lounge. By early afternoon, the weather cleared enough for a 'bush walk' to the lookout at the top of the mountain behind Paihia:

This was followed by a 'bar walk' beginning with a tasty fish panini sandwich at Mako Bar, washed down with a few Lion Reds. Right across the street from The Mousetrap (our hostel) is a row of restaurants and bars--in fact, the row of restaurants and bars in Paihia. Peppercorn, the Pipi Patch (uh, that's a kind of shellfish), the Beachhouse, the Sandlot and Salty's all in a row. On the weekends, all these places have live music, but the only action on Thursday was karaoke at Salty's, so we indulged, in between a pizza and some more beers.

In the morning, the weather was much improved, though it was pretty choppy on the water, and little chance of getting to actually swim with the dolphins; in fact, there seemed little chance of actually sighting any dolphins. The tour consisted of three basic parts: visiting the lagoons and beaches of numerous of the Bay's 144 islands (while hoping for a dolphin sighting); an Urupukapuka Island walkabout, where we climbed to a lookout atop a small cay; and a visit to Hole in the Rock, a sea arch located just off Cape Brett (look for the Cape Brett lighthouse), in the deep blue Pacific waters.

The boat was on its way back to port when Your Ship's Biology Guy sighted a small pod of bottlenosed dolphins and we made for it. I was only able to snap a few shots of fins and tails, but it was enough that they didn't have to give us a voucher for a free trip--no moneyback guarantee here, mate.

I made a little slideshow of the trip and uploaded it to YouTube, but I've also put thumbnails of a few of the best photos below--remember to click on them to see the full size image:

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