After our two days spent hiking around the beautiful Cape Reinga, my friends and I parted ways. They continued on to hike another day, and I took advantage of the fact that our campsite was connected by road to the main highway to hitch a ride to the bay of islands.
My first ride was with an American couple who gave me heaps of advice regarding different hikes around New Zealand. They drove me to where the highway splits off in Awaniu. From there I only waited about 30 seconds before Craig, a Maori medical scientist pulled up in his van advertising blood donating. Craig supervises blood transfusions and helps third world countries upgrade their medical labs so we had heaps to speak about. We also had a really interesting conversation comparing how the various commonwealth countries treat their indigenous population. He drove me to Katikati where he was to do another transfusion. From Katikati about two cars passed me before two Kiwi girls on a vacation from school pulled over and offered to take me the rest of the way to Paihia – the gateway to the bay of islands.
They dropped me at the main information centre where I could buy tickets for a yacht adventure the next day. I soon met up with James who had hitch hiked out of Auckland that day and we set about adventure number 1: find a place to set up the tent. After walking across the town several times looking for an affordable place to set up camp and either finding things too expensive or all booked up, we finally got a life saving tip which pointed us in the direction of a women who allows tourists to set up tents on her lawn for a small fee. Grateful to have a place to sleep we quickly set up camp. I am pretty much a professional at setting up this tent now. My poor tent is however, dotted with dozens of little blood spots after I quickly escaped and mosquito army and rolled the tent up on them the previous morning. Suckers.
The next day we headed out onto the water on the Gunga II which is captained by a man whose mother was born in Winnipeg. East Kildonan to be exact.
Mid way through sailing (I did not get seasick once I must add!) we stopped for a break and a chance to swim, snorkel, kayak, and explore a nearby uninhabited island. I kayaked to the island and almost made it before a wave capsized me. Also on the way back, when trying to balance two people in a once person sea kayak we also tipped over. Both times due to my “keep hair dry” instinct being stronger than my survival instinct, I managed to keep my head dry.
The next morning we packed up and prepared to hitch hike back to Auckland. Our first ride was with Charlie from South Africa who took us to the next town and gave us heaps of tips about hitch hiking. He dropped us at a good spot, and it wasn’t long until Helen and her Maori partner whose accent I could not understand despite all best efforts picked us up. They were heading to Whangarei, but dropped us in Kawakawa so we could see the famous Hundervasser toilets. After seeing Hundervasser’s other work in Vienna, this was sort of novel for me. From Kawakawa, Hannah and three of her six children picked us up. Luckily I got shotgun and could speak with Hannah while James entertained the three very loud youngsters. Hannah took us to Whangarei where she was going to visit her Auntie. From there we probably only waited another two minutes before Deb and Paul from Auckland picked us up and took us all the way back to the city. Success!