Following on from yesterday we took the 18:50 flight from Perth which has a flight time of just under 6 hours. Perth is in turn 5 hours behind Auckland time meaning that we landed in Auckland just before 6:00 am local time and effectively lost a night’s sleep. That means today we are mostly feeling …tired!
We decided to drive straight to the Bay of Islands rather than drive into Auckland as it enabled us to ‘create’ an extra day’s holiday as, had we gone straight into Auckland we probably would have had to wait in any event for a room whereas the drive up to Paihia meant we would probably arrive in the afternoon. Be cautious about doing this as you will likely come out of the airport into rush hour in Auckland so have your wits about you.
In actually fact we ended up driving around 350km up the entire Twin Coast Discovery Highway and visiting a number of the smaller towns and many of the stunning beaches along the way.
It actually only took us about three-quarter of an hour to clear Auckland, however the traffic going the other way did not seem to be so lucky as an accident meant that there was a tailback of around 10km going into the city. Despite their being on just over four million people in New Zealand, just like the rest of the world it seems that rush hour is rush hour wherever you are in the world.
We started off with Waipu in the sat nav for no other reason than our lonely planet guide says that Imodium missed a trick when they launched in NZ and could have branded themselves after the giggle-worthy town (I wonder whether there is scope for twin towning with “Maipu” in Thailand?). However, the twin coast discovery trail weaves on and off the highway and we decided to just follow that which turned out to be an excellent idea.
So we visited Waiwera, Snells Beach and Mangawhai before we arrived in Waipu (we also stopped off in some other unknown places at one point just to catch a 10 minute nap as the jet lag kicked in). As you can see from the photographs each location was spectacular in its own way and although we had some heavy rain along the way there was enough sunshine that we were able to capture the feel of each place.
After Waipu we headed to Whangarei, the biggest town in the region with around 42,000 inhabitants where we stopped off briefly to visit the Whangarei Falls. Not as impressive as anything in Austria but still worth a visit.
After taking in the sights of Ngungure, Tutukaka and Whananaki we headed inland and straight for Paihia which we reached just before 4 in the afternoon.
I can recommend the coastal drive although the road was probably one of the longest consistently twisty roads I have ever driven which would be fairly exhausting in any context irrespective but is doubly challenging with a serious dose of sleep deprivation! If you’re hiring a car I would advise a normal saloon, a big 4×4 may look nice but actually hauling it around the bends is seriously challenging.
In Paihia we are staying in a mock Austrian Chalet run by an Austrian woman who has been here for 30 years. We did not know that at the time of booking but it seems a little ironic.