Paraparaumu to Auckland, from there to Northland

Paihia, where I am now, is a great place to chill out. Or at least, that’s what I’ve found myself doing. Before that, there was a fair amount of travelling.

From Christchurch, I moved a car to Blenheim, staying there a couple of nights, giving one lad a lift to work (and the foreman a moment of discombobulation, as my presence made the right number of people, but I was clearly too old to have a working visa) and running the parkrun. Journeying up SH1, as it is repaired post 2016 earthquake, is never dull – quicker, safe sections replaced by 30km ‘crikey, if this is how it looks now…’ parts. The road is currently shut between 8.30pm and 7am, so check conditions before moving.

Sandcastles on Paraparaumu beach.
Sandcastles on Paraparaumu beach.

I got to Paraparaumu on the Saturday evening, staying there to revisit an old haunt.

Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo.

On the Sunday, I just had to shift, with the car due back at Auckland airport midday on Monday. Time to stop and look at Lake Taupo, though, with much of the distance done (in that it was only 3 hours or so from there).

Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo.

Time enough, also, to pick up a crack in the windshield, courtesy of a truck. Drat. It turned out to be just a $60NZD charge, which I took (despite having insurance – external, not via the company) as a very cheap SUV rental fee.

Sunset in Pukekawa.
Sunset in Pukekawa.

This view was from Shekinah farm, 45mins South of Auckland airport. It’s in a valley, so the views dropping away from the farm are stunning. The compost toilet put off my tall (2m) Dutch cyclist roommate, but otherwise it’s hard to fault.

5k start at O’Hagan’s, Auckland.
5k start at O’Hagan’s, Auckland.

On the Monday I dropped the car off, leaving my stuff at a hostel in Auckland first so I could run back there after the drop-off. Slightly injured (though not from that 10-mile route through Mangere, which is recommended), I opted to just visit the informal 5k at O’Hagan’s on the waterfront in Auckland. $8 to enter, and that includes a pint of Guinness at the end – so essentially, you get a 5k for -$2. For me, a chance to catch up with fellow parkrun tourists, Steve and Hannah, though Hannah and I had already caught up for a beer or two. She assures me she doesn’t drink.

Me, stirring beer ingredients at Brewer’s World, Whangarei.
Stirring beer ingredients at Brewer’s World, Whangarei.

I left Auckland on Wednesday, hopping on the Intercity bus to Whangerai. I stayed here before last time, and assumed I had booked the same hostel. But no, Bunklodge was immediately, and obviously, new. But great! I stayed 5 nights, helped by having very friendly roommates, who took me along to Brewer’s World, where the charismatic BK, in between customers, showed us how to make some home brew and showed how to live the dream. Wife, three kids, house on 4 acres, 35ft boat, lots of your own beer and a quad bike, in outline.

Whangarei Hatea loop, riverside.
Whangarei Hatea loop, riverside.

Whangerai is a pretty enough town, if you wander away from the central busy bit.

Cars parked everywhere for Waitangi Day, Waitangi beach, Paihia.
Waitangi beach, Paihia.

I have many reasons to travel, and a hankering to see new places, but I am also happy to return to almost everywhere I’ve been before. Standing on top of the list of places to go back to was Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, North of Auckland, and I finally made it there on Monday 5th, heading back to Seabeds, a lovely hostel I stayed in last time. It felt like an accomplishment, this simple thing of returning to somewhere I had a great time, and where I met Emma and Nicki.

Waitangi beach, as busy as it gets.
Waitangi beach, as busy as it gets.

I walked to these falls last time. This time around, I ran there.

Haruru falls, Paihia.
Haruru falls, Paihia.

The day before, the military boat was a large, looming presence in the bay. Today, it is dwarfed by a cruise ship.

Bay of Islands.
Bay of Islands.

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