We left Christchurch on a beautiful sunny day and flew to Auckland where we picked up a car for our little exploration of the North island and in particular of the Bay of Islands.
Our hotel in Auckland was in the city and a short walk to the Viaduct Basin where the Marina is located along with lots of shops, restaurants and a couple of maritime museums. We weren’t totally up to date with what was happening in the city and were excited to find all the yachts competing in the current Round the World Yacht Race had arrived in Auckland at the weekend. There were displays and film shows, information kiosks and sponsor marquees all over the area and we had a wonderful time wandering around and discovering much more about the Race and the people who compete. As well as that we managed to find a restaurant serving New Zealand Mussels in large bowls with the requisite fries and a chilled glass of wine so we were very content!
We decided to spend a day on Waiheke Island which is a short ferry ride from Auckland and is, in fact, a suburb of the city with a population of 10,000 of which 2000 commute to work daily. For us it was interesting as Magnetic island is much the same in that there is a resident population and people commute. There the similarity ends. Waiheke is much larger with several communities and a number of vineyards as well as accommodation ranging from backpacker to luxury spa hotels.
There are lots of lovely beaches and the main settlement of Oneroa has a number of restaurants and gift shops which we browsed through. We struck gold with our choice of restaurant for lunch, The Oyster Inn, situated in the main street is relatively new and has a wonderfully innovative menu with a range of seafood choices. It is very popular for dinner and their marketing slogan is “Come for Dinner and Stay for Breakfast!” as they offer three rooms on site.
Next day it was time to head north. We chose the coastal route through Whangarei and Oakura Bay to Russell which took much longer than driving to Opua where there is a car ferry across the bay to Russell. It was a long and winding road but we were in no hurry and enjoyed the magnificent countryside and forests.
Yachts in the harbour at Whangarei – it was crowded with boats from all over the world.
Beautiful beaches along the windswept coast but a bit too cool for us to dip into!
We finally reached Russell which took our breath away – a really beautiful little town with hillside houses and lots of restaurants along the foreshore. We had booked into a B&B, Bellrock Lodge, and what a beautiful place to stay. Again we struck gold!
The view from our room. It was peaceful and certainly invigorated the soul.