My bus was leaving for Auckland at 2, but I still had the morning to explore Paihia.  I decided to do a boat cruise on the bay of islands – we’d go up to the hole in the rock (an aptly named island with a hole through it), and also keep an eye out for dolphins.

I left the hostel a bit early, to spend some time relaxing by the water before the boat left.

The islands were beautiful, and it was cool to actually go through the hole in the rock.

But as soon as we caught sight of the dolphins, that was all we cared about about! We even got to see a couple pilot whales (but it was impossible to get a photo of them as you never knew when or where they were going to come up for air).



And we did stop on one of the islands for 30 minutes or so, and it was just lovely.

And then it was time to return to Auckland.  My hostel was a little outside of the city center, so I made my way there, got some food, and enjoyed a nice quiet night.


Today I went north to the Bay of Islands! I decided to go with a hop-on-hop-off bus, so I was mostly with the same people all weekend, which was lovely.  We were headed to Paihia, but had a little stop on the way to hug a massive kauri tree.

I was going to be in Paihia for 2 nights, but my next two days were pretty well booked, so I decided to use my afternoon to go to Russell.  Russell is just across the bay from Paihia, and was the original capital city of Auckland.  The capital moved down to Auckland (and later Wellington) because Russell had the unfortunate nickname of Hell Hole of the Pacific due to the many sailor’s ruckus behaviour.  Now it is quite a lovely place to be though, and features NZ’s oldest church.

At this point I wandered through the very small town of Paihia, and eventually relaxed in the hostel and called it a night. Tomorrow would be a very long day.