Paihia was a cute town with several shops, restaurants and tourist attractions. Being near the Bay of Islands, most activities took place in or on the water. Originally we had hoped to take a full day tour up North to the cape and 90 mile beach but with only one day total to explore we decided against it. We looked into doing a 4 hour boat trip to the hole in the rock and to see dolphins but at $145 NZD each we decided against that as well! Instead we took the small passenger ferry 10 minutes across the bay to the sleepy town of Russell. Most stores and restaurants were closed for the winter, but we walked through town and took some time to explore the Christ Church, the first church in New Zealand and the old cemetery on the grounds.
It was quite brisk so we popped into the Duke of Marlborough for a coffee and tea to warm up. This was a neat place with lots of history. It is there we learned that Russel was “the hellhole of the pacific” back when it was a busy whaling port full of transient ships and their crew. After heading back on the ferry we explored the town of Paihia a bit and had some Thai food for lunch.
We were a little tired of eating out so we picked up some pasta and sauce and made dinner in the room. The next morning we boarded the bus bright and early with the racecar driver again! We headed back to Auckland and arrived around noon. We made our way back to the airport to pick up our car that we had hired. In New Zealand you hire a car, not rent it. Our red Toyota Yaris would be Jason’s first attempt at driving on the other side of the car and road! He was lucky that this first car turned out to be an automatic. The less to think about, the better. We figured they gave us the brightest color car they had so everyone knew there were TOURISTS APPROACHING!