Auckland and the Bay of Islands

After arriving in Auckland, we walked to the Wynyard Quarter for dinner. The Wynyard Quarter is part of the harbour, near the central business district, and has multiple restaurants and bars overlooking the sea.

The following day we took a ferry to Waiheke Island. The island is home to over twenty vineyards, but as tempting as it was to visit them all, we only visited the two closest the port, and had a wine tasting at each. The wine tastings were good value, particularly given the prices at which some of the wines were being sold.

Grapes

Returning to the mainland, we walked up Mt. Eden, one of several small mountains dotted around the area. They do not form a mountain range, though, as they are actually old volcanoes. It is evident from the amount of grass covering them that they have not erupted for a very long time. At the summit of Mt. Eden we walked around the crater, and took in the views of the city below.

Mt. Eden

We drove north from Auckland to Paihia, on the Bay of Islands. On the way, we visited Kiwi North�where we saw two kiwi birds. They were in an artificial nocturnal habitat, and were very amusing creatures. They were both larger and faster than I had expected.

We also stopped off at Kawiti Caves. The caves are home to thousands of glow worms. The worms are actually the larval form of a species of fungus gnat. The larvea cling to the ceiling of caves, and trail down sticky threads to trap insects to eat. They glow to lure insects into these sticky traps. In the dark of the cave, they look like a starry sky.

The Bay of Islands is aptly named, as the Bay contains over 140 subtropical islands. Pahia itself is only a small settlement, but the weather was good, so it was fairly bustling with people going to the beach.

Islands

More islands

Whilst in Pahia, we visited the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The grounds are the location of the initial signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840, between the British Crown and the M?ori chiefs of the North Island of New Zealand. As well as learning about some of the history, we also watched a M?ori cultural performance.

Haka

That evening, we took a ferry across the bay to Russell, which was the first permanent European settlement on New Zealand. In the 19th century it used to be known as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific", for its lawlessness, but it is now a pleasant seaside resort.

Tomorrow we start our journey back south, bound for Rotorua.