Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day Eight - Lambs, Dolphins, Kiwis Oh MY

Saturday morning we were in the car by 7 am and started our 3.5 hour drive from Auckland toward the northern point of the island called Paihia, New Zealand. 
 Our hotel was right next to the Sky Tower which is 1076 feet tall.  You can go to the top of the tower and bungee jump off if you wanted.  It was a pretty magnificent structure!
Birch feeling better about driving on day two in New Zealand after a good night's rest.

All along side the road were these huge Toi Toi plants.
Miles and miles of rolling hills with TONS of cattle and sheep
 After about 3 hours of driving in the rolling green hills we finally saw the ocean.  I'm sure the whole time we were close to water but the highway took us away from the ocean-side.  When we got into Paihia on the Bay of Islands we easily found our Bed and Breakfast (large yellow house on the hillside). 
The Allegra House was all that it boosted of online, though we didn't spend much time there.  After getting settled in our room the home owner suggested that we might enjoy walking on the ferry to see the island of Russell.
 We payed our $6 fare and loaded onto this cute little ferry boat for a 20 minute ferry ride to Russell.
 About half way through our ferry ride we started seeing dolphins and even penguins pop up around our ferry boat.  It was SO cool!!!  Just to think that others were paying $95 for a boat ride to see the dolphins and we paid $6!  We saw around a dozen of them jumping in and out of the water.
 Russell Bay was MAGNIFICENT!!!  The water color was amazing and the bright colored boats just set off everything.
 After buying some granola bars and drinks for lunch we hiked to Flagstaff Hill which overlooks Russell Bay.  The flagstaff on the hill played a significant role in early relations between the local Māori of the Ngāpuhi iwi and early British colonials.  It was a beautiful short hike!
 Pahutuka tree also known as New Zealand's Christmas tree

 Lovely Hibiscus flowers of all colors
So I look like I'm doing the chicken dance but we are both supposed to be doing a Maori dance since we made it to the top of Flagstaff Hill which was special to the Maori people.

 About this time we are both starting to feel the sadness of our trip coming to a close.  We LOVE our kids and we love spending time together without our kids!  Coming home means busy schedules, cooking, cleaning, PTA, barely seeing each other during the week, homework, etc...  We were savoring each moment of just US.
 Living it up for our last meal
 Both were just delicious!!  Birch LOVED his coconut cilantro Thai fish!

Off to bed for an EARLY morning!

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