Historic Kerikeri and beach fun, Bay of Islands – 2nd week of Travels, New Zealand
For our first ‘holiday’ travels in New Zealand (I use the word holiday as it’s Easter Break), as opposed to the whole year just travelling in New Zealand 🙂 we decided to go to Bay of Islands in the Northland region. It is one a very popular tourist destinations here, famous for it’s 150 islands, turquoise waters, historical significance – Wangari Treaty Grounds and home to the first European settlement – and also known for it’s great scuba diving sites, kayaking and other water sports. Temperatures were supposed to be in the mid twenties and sunny….We were really excited!
Kids had finished their first week of school in Auckland, we left right after Ashique finished work on Thursday, faced lot of expected holiday traffic and instead of taking 4 hours to Kerikeri, where we were staying the next four days, it took us nearly 6 hours (including a long delicious dinner at Pizza Barn, Waipu). We enjoyed the drive (once we left Auckland traffic) and especially when we go a but further north. We saw our first sheep in New Zealand after 10 days of being here and loved seeing the tropical vegetation and patches of rainforest trees. We saw birds of prey we didn’t recognize. Desperataly need to get our Bird and Tree ID for New Zealand so we can start naming some of t
We chose to stay in Kerikeri, not based on anything but finding Kauri Park Motel run by a lovely couple Justine and Carl. The Motel had great reviews and decent rates, also was close to Paihia where the harbour is located for heading out for any cruise around Bay of Islands. Short drive to all the points of attractions in the area and walking distance to several local attractions, the Motel is quite lovely with back gardens, a nice pool, spacious rooms and a jacuzzi in our bathroom too!
Next day we headed to town to do some historic sightseeing before indulging in beach activities. We visited Kerikeri Mission Station built in 1819, completed in 1822 where we had a tour of Kemp House oldest building in New Zealand and first substantial European home. We visited the Stone Store, oldest surviving stone building in the country and still open for business today. We learned about the amazing Maori Chief Hongi Hika, and the rich history of the past 200 years. It was all truly fascinating! It helped that there were acres of land outside with lovely gardens to occupy the kids, there was a treasure hunt organized for them in the grounds so they were well and happy.
Access to the Stone Store’s ground floor shop is free, and it’s $10 for entry to the Museum, kids go free. This also includes a guided tour of Kemp House.
The grounds outside were lovely and there was also a Restaurant on the grounds where we enjoyed delicious steamed green lipped mussels and Clam Chowder for lunch. Food so far has been really good wherever we had gone.
After the ‘sightseeing’ we went to Rainbow Falls and had loads of fun in this lovely spot located in the town of Kerikeri, just by Kerikeri river. You can get here quite easily – a nice short walk through this wooded area and then you can either get awesome view of the beautiful rainbow falls from the top or walk down to the water and swim near the falls. We did the latter – the kids did atleast – Ashique and I found the water too cold and were just happy to laze around and watch the kids clambering over the rocks, going into the freezing waters and having fun. Shahaar made it nearly to the back of the falls but not all the way at the back. Shama was disappointed she didn’t get to do the same.
The last thing we did this day was the beach 🙂 Located 30 km north of Kerikeri, Matauri Bay was just stunning! I couldn’t think of a better way to end our day then swimming the crystal clear waters of this beautiful beach. One of the best diving spots in New Zealand is located here, but I need to wait to do my refresher’s course before I do diving again. I haven’t done it in 10 years now! The Rainbow Warrior was given a final resting place near Matauri Bay, at the Cavalli Islands. Since then it has become a living reef, full of marine reed and attracts recreational divers.
We found very few people around by the time we got here early evening. There were no developed structures like hotels or restaurants anywhere in site, it was all just white sane beach and turquoise waters, it was sheer bliss 🙂
Thus ended our first day at Bay of Islands! Off on a dolphin sighting/island cruise tomorrow to the ‘Hole in the Rock’. And look forward to experiencing the famed Farmer’s Market at Kerikeri in the morning as well 🙂