Posts Tagged ‘Boat Cruise’
When you add drinking, beach volleyball, a live band, kangaroos, parrots, giant lizards, boats and more drinking together, it all adds up to a university
boat cruise over to Stradbroke Island. A number of Griffith University students have organized a boat cruise for a few hundred or so of their closest friends. For $40 bucks a ticket you get a boat ride over to the island with bar onboard, a live band at the island, a BBQ, free kayaks, and a very competitive volleyball round robin tournament.
It’s an early day with the boat starting to board at 10:15 am, which means by this point, most people have already been drinking for a few hours.
Everyone piles onto the boat after an extensive bag search and the party continues with music blaring from the speakers, cheap drinks, and a serious tournament of flip cup on the lower deck. After about an hour and 15 minutes we arrive at Mclaren’s Landing, the main docking point on the island. The set up here is great – there is a large bar hut, as well as several others – one for the band, one for food and others just for getting out of the sun.
The place is filled with wildlife. Just moments after arriving a number of people start to gather around a small kangaroo who is happy to be fed whatever scraps are lying around. A few moments later a giant lizard, bigger than anything I have seen before pops out from behind the bush undergrowth. It looks like we are going to have a face- off between kangaroo and lizard. They both eye each other nervously. No one is ready to make the first move. The lizard creeps closer but then with one swipe from the kangaroo the match is over and the winner is declared.
Andrew and I were both lucky enough to get on a volleyball team at the last minute – “The No Names” what a fitting title. It’s a strict elimination competition, although the losers do go on to play a few more games against the others. It turns out I am the only girl on the team which is an advantage for me because there has to be one girl on the court at all times so I never have to rotate off. We smash the first team we play, but lose our second game. Somehow another team doesn’t end up showing up for the game (probably due to too many beers at this point in the afternoon) and we end up playing 6 more games against various teams, both as The No Names and the other team we have inherited. It’s great to get back into the game after not playing for so long.
After 5 hours in the sun it’s time to board the ship to head home. Cost of the ticket – $40, price of drinks throughout the day $30, cost to replace lost flip-flops $20, perfect day on the island with friends – priceless.
Day 9 and 10: Paihia, Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga
After leaving Auckland for the second time, we head north for the town of Paihia. We have ourselves booked in for 2 nights, but after seeing all there is to do here, you could easily stay 3 or 4 nights.
Paihia is backpacker heaven, there a dozen backpacker establishments all located next door to one another on Kings road which is just a stone’s throw from the beach. A word to the wise, if you are planning on cooking while you are here, pick up groceries ahead of time, there are a few small grocery stores in town, but it is more expensive than other places.
On our first day, since we have arrived around noon, we decide to do the half day boat cruise around the Bay of Islands. A boat cruise of some sort is a must do in this town, and there are lots to choose from. Be sure to check out who has the best deal going since it can be a bit pricey. After trying some hokey pokey ice cream, the Australian favourite flavor, we head out on the Fullers half day boat cruise. The swells are quite high out on the water today and a few passengers are seasick. Unfortunately for us, since the water is so rough, it means we can’t venture out to the Hole in the Rock, out on the cape, so we buy the postcard instead. We cruise around all the islands, stopping to see a house where Queen Elizabeth stayed when visiting New Zealand several years ago.
On our way back, we come across 2 different pods of dolphins, my first time seeing dolphins out in the open ocean. They follow our boat along for a while and we take a few hundred shots and live video feed. Heading back to mainland, we walk around this small little town for a while. There is basically one small strip and a few side streets that comprise the town, but you could see how it would be a great party place in the summer. We venture out tonight down to Pipi’s bar which is down at the X base backpackers next door. Have a few drinks and meet some folks who are signed up for our bus tour tomorrow to 90 mile beach and Cape Reigna, off to bed early since we need to catch our bus at 7 am!
Our last day – and what a day it is! We catch our bus in the early morning and we are off to the most northern part of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. You can do this drive yourself, however it is long (8 hours driving round trip, no stopping), and you have to be familiar with the tides on 90 mile beach, so I would highly recommend doing a bus tour. Along the way there is 90 mile beach and several others to take in. As it turns out, Spike, who we met in New Plymouth is our bus driver for the day! What a bonus!
First on the list – Manginangina National Park. Here we take a 45 minute walk around a boardwalk to see the biggest trees I have ever laid eyes on. The Maori tribes would use just one of these great big trees to carve giant canoes out of that could hold over 100 people! Next on the adventure – New Zealand’s, “best” bakery – somehow I think Spike is getting hooked up here, but I did have the best donut in the world – a very dougy cinnamon sugar donut, Andrew and I had to resist going back for seconds.
Now the real fun begins, 90 mile beach at low tide is considered a road – meaning you can zip along at 100 km/hr, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a small car. As we drive along the beach, the most amazing thing is that there is no one and nothing else for miles. It is a stunning site to see so much beach and so much uninterrupted coast line. As we drive past, we see a pack of wild horses running along the beach – it’s like a site out of a movie!
Finally we stop just passed a small island which provides some variety to the background in the photos. We fun and frolic on the beach, jumping in the crashing waves and writing our names in the sand. I scoop up a bunch of sand here to add to my world sand collection back home.
90 mile beach is surrounded by massive sand dunes, and what better to do with all that sand then to go sand boarding! Out from under the bus appears sand boards for everyone, and we all race to the top of the hill to be the first to go down. I am the first girl and 3rd person to make it to the top from our bus group, I feel good about this. Sand boarding is like tobogganing but a bit scarier, and messier. Wear sunglasses for this as you will get sand blowing up in your face. It is an amazing rush boarding down the sand dunes, an experience not to be forgotten.
Since we are all covered in sand, a stop at another beach to rinse it off and have some lunch at Tapotupotu Bay. This one is off the beaten track a bit but worth a stop. Huge waves crash onto this small bay, making it a bit too dangerous for boogie boarding, but good enough to wade in and rinse off the sand. A picnic on the beach to take in the sites here is a must.
Half an hour later we pack up and head to our final attraction of the day – Cape Reinga. This place is very important to the Maori people, it is sacred land, and it is asked that you respect this by not eating or drinking on the land. As you head through the underpass and onto the walkway you can really feel the spirituality of this place. Here the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea.
There are signs along the walk that point out the places of reference in Maori culture.
As you make your way down to the lighthouse, you will be surrounded by views of the ocean and sea on both sides. There is a view here like no other in New Zealand. At the lighthouse there is a pole with a number of signs telling the distance to various world cities – Vancouver makes the cut at 11,000 km away. A few more minutes of soaking in the view here and back on the bus to Paihia for tonight.
I can’t believe it is our last night in New Zealand. Even though it was quick, I really think we made the most of the time we had. There is always more to see, but I feel like we had a good run at it. Off to Australia tomorrow!
We arrive! After almost 19 hours in the air, we finally land at the Auckland aiport at 5:15 am on Sunday Sept 6th (we have skipped Sept 5th entirely because we passed the international date line).
We arrive at the apartment/hotel that we have rented for our first two nights, Quest on Nelson St. I would definitely recommend this place – the rooms are mini-aparments complete with a full kitchen, pots and pans, and in suite laundry and for relatively cheap. It was great to have some of the comforts of home on the first few days.
We headed out into the city, looking for a coffee shop that would be open at 7am on a Sunday morning. Esquires coffee has vouchers for free wi-fi which let us send a note home to our family and friends to let them know we had gotten to NZ safely. We walked along Quay st by the water and decided to take the ferry to Waiheke island for the day. I would recommend the Fuller’s Explorer tour – for $48 you get the round trip ferry ticket, a 1.5 hour tour of the island, and an all day bus pass as well.
The tour is a great way to see the island which would be hard to navigate on your own – lots of small windy streets. Views here are spectactular – the island has lots of bays and sandy shoreline. Wine tours are popular here as well. We stopped at Gold Water Estate and sampled a few of their wines – only $3 for a tasting of 4 wines.
After we get back to Auckland, we decide to take advantage of our full kitchen and buy some groceries. Shortly after dinner the time change catches up with us – both of us our lights out by 9 pm.
An early start to the day (since we did hit the hay really early!) at 7:30 am. Decide to start things off at the Sky Tower – this is a must do in Auckland. It is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere – even taller than the Eiffel Tower! However, I really think they should judge where the observation deck is – more of a true measurement of the views you get to see. Either way – the views are great – you definitly want to do this on a clear sunny day.
Next,we jump on the Link bus to the Auckland Museum, about a 10 minute bus ride out of the downtown and only $5 entry fee. (The Explorer Bus tour is over priced for what you get – it is much cheaper to take the city bus and/or walk to places). You want to budget at least 3 hours for the museum as there is a lot to see – first floor is the Maori/New Zealand culture and history. Second floor is all about volcanoes, and then the exhibits on Earth, Land and Sea creatures – as well as a few dinosaurs thrown in for good measure! (my personal favourite). 3rd floor is a memory to WWI and WWII and the New Zealanders that contributed to those efforts. Definitely eat before you head in as there is no food/drink allowed in the museum – we almost didn’t make it through the 3rd floor we were so hungry!
Next we walked from the Museum to Mount Edan – the highest land point in Auckland. It is about a 30 minute walk from the Museum. Great views here as well, a must see in Auckland (and its free so hey why not?). Took a bus back into the city to grab some food for dinner. A word to the budget conscious – food and drink are much more expensive in Auckland than Canada. Ex. Starbucks tea (my drink of choice) in Canada – $1.65 in Auckland – $3.10. Haven’t been able to find coffee or tea anywhere for under $3. We hit up a food court at the mall for a hearty meal under $10pp.
Next – we head out to find free wi-fi – and we hit up the public library, always a good place for free internet.
Tonight – probabaly a low key night again, we might try our luck at the Sky Tower casino to see if we can get any winnings for our trip! Wish us luck!
Stay posted for updates from Roturo and Taupo.