Easter 2016 in the Bay of Islands
Tramping, swimming, yoga, cultural activities and ferry/launch rides in the Bay of Islands were enjoyed by 16 TTC members for six sunny, hot days over Easter. We flew to Kerikeri, hired two vehicles and made our base at a holiday park in Paihia. Tricia Walbridge and Janet Menamin were our extremely competent tour and tramping organisers. Tramps varied in both length and scenery but a constant was the sea and swimming. Ferries were a novel form of transportation, the small Opua/Russell car and passenger ferry taking just a few minutes and the larger water taxi to Urupukapuka island taking 35 minutes.
On day one we accomplished an approximately 14 km coastal walk from our base in Paihia to Opua, Okiato and ended in Russell. The Paihia-Opua walk follows the shoreline through trees, along board walks and mangrove trees and affords expansive views over the bay. At Opua we paid the $1 each to cross to Okiato, (or Old Russell), New Zealandís first capital, albeit for only one year 1840-1841. The track traverses wetland flats, undulating areas of mature native bush and a boardwalk at the waterís edge. We enjoyed relaxing, swimming and exploring Russell before catching the ferry to Paihia.
Urupukapuka Island where we spent day two, was one of the many trip highlights. The island is criss-crossed with walking tracks, has magnificent coastal cliff views and steep slopes that plunge to delightful secluded bays. The main vegetation is manuka/kanuka and extensive kikuyu grasslands. Pohutakawas fringe the coast. The island has Maori pa sites and is declared pest free, a result of the Project Island Song. A restoration project is currently underway. The Wairakau Stream Track was another wonderful tramp. The terrain is undulating, involves walking through forest, fording a river and follows the south-western arm of the Whangaroa Harbour. As it isnít a loop track we were prepared to retrace our steps but after a couple of hours we got to the end and found a water taxi in the process of disembarking two passengers. For a discounted price of $10 each the driver offered to take us back to near our starting point. Two couldnít fit in so they offered to walk out. We re-united at the cute Madhatters Cafe with gingham unbrellas over outside tables in Kaeo, after which many climbed St Paulís volcanic plug. Wonderful vistas revealed Pacific oyster farms and the myriad of little islands and inlets.
Another day all 16 walked to Wangamumu Bay. Some of the group didn't want to do the longer walk towards Cape Brett, opting for a kauri grove walk. The remaining five had a second swim whilst waiting for the tide to go down before slopping around in the sea to find the track which climbs steeply towards the ridgeline. At least thatís what we thought but after much climbing and descending, including viewing the remains of an old whaling station in what is now an idyllic bay, we eventually returned to our car via an impressive kauri grove.
On the final day several hours were spent on the Waitangi grounds. Entry price includes a cultural concert, an excellent guided tour and entry to the new, impressive multi-media museum that had opened one month previously. A few of us swam in the warm sea near where the longest waka in the world is launched. En route to the airport we just had time to visit the Kerikeri Stone House and the unusual horseshoe-shaped Haruru Falls. So ended a marvellous trip with the only downer being a couple of hours delay in the departure of our Kerikeri plane, impacting on the Auckland-Wellington connection.
- Party members
- Barbara Crump (scribe),Helen Quinlan, Barbara and Don Crump, Muriel Christianson,
Tricia Walbridge, Barbara Camfield, Janet Menamin, Joanne Gapes, Adrienne Vermuellen, Ray Markham, Bob Cyffers, Peter Shanahan, Liz Martin, Alan Graham, David Holland, Christine MacKenzie.