These are beautiful horseshoe shaped falls. In Maori legend, there is meant to be a water monster living in the lagoon below the falls. You can walk to the falls on the Waitanga track or drive to Haruru township which is 3ks from Paihai. In the 1800's there were over 100 Maori villages along the Hauru river.
Visit Kerikeri. The two oldest buildings that are in New Zealand are here, Kemp House and the Stone Store (built in 1822). St. James church (1878) was built on the same site as New Zealand's first chapel(1824) Kerikeri Mission House(1822) belonged to what was New Zealand's earliest successful European settlement.
We did a tour in a fast boat called 'EXCITOR' to the Hole in the Rock. The Captain was witty, I think everybody would have enjoyed this trip, certainly everybody was laughing. On the way back we stopped at Russell to pick up and drop off people. We had a great time. For more up to date information on this tour, the website is below
If you are planning a trip to the Cape the best tour I have done is with Harrisons, departing from Kaitaia. The price is a lot less than those leaving from Paihia in the Bay of Islands, but you do need your own transport to get to Kaitaia about 1½ hours drive North. There is plenty of off street parking. Drivers/guides are wonderfull.
Wairere (wai=water rere= falling or flying or spreading) are shown in the opening picture, also known as Maungamimi which stands for "mountain urine".
The falls are in the wairakau estuary which is part of Pekapeka (Bat) bay.
Picture 2 shows the island called Okahumoku where, in 1827, over 300 Maori died in a tribal dispute. This is called a Pa site. These days Maori don't visit it for those reasons.
The same applies to Bridal Cake (pic 3) where inter tribal conflicts occurred.
Here are some more shots that I took during the cruise giving you and indication of what the area looks like.
In picture 4 you'll note the native Christmas Tree that has been stripped bare by possums.
Paihia (pronounced pie-heah) is a key town on the Bay of Islands inasmuch as it sits at the eastern base of the bay and is easily accessed by car and tourist coach.
There's plenty of accommodation here at a variety of prices and styles and restaurants to cater for most palates.
It's clearly a town that would like to expand more but is restricted by the contours surrounding it, i.e., it's very hilly. This landscape's shortcomings were clearly on display in 2007 when torrential rain caused an uncountable number of landslides.
Everywhere we drove there was evidence of the fragility of the soil and building blocks around here would have to be very carefully surveyed.
Even when we were there there was minor flooding (pic 3) and many was the road edge that had disappeared in a downward direction on some steep slope.
It wasn't all doom and gloom. On top of a small rise and park which affords the view over the bay I used in the intro shot there were some lovely yellow flowers which were intertwined with a mass of cobwebs.
You can't help but notice this little charmer on the main street. In fact, it's one of New Zealand's best known churches.
"Less than a decade after the first Christian service was held at the Bay of Islands on Xmas Day 1914, Rev. Henry and Mrs Williams arrived on August 3rd, 1823 to establish the missionary settlement at Paihia. On their arrival, Mrs Williams with her three children went to reside in Kerikeri while the Rev. Williams set to work to erect temporary buildings at the new station.
On September 15th, Mrs Williams came to join her husband and her journal states that there was a Church, built of raupo, which was opened for Divine Service on Sunday, September 21st, 1823. This was the first Church ever built in New Zealand.
The Reverend William Williams with his wife joined his brother Henry, arriving at Paihia on March 26th, 1826. This gentleman was a classical scholar of Oxford University and also had a considerable medical knowledge which was of the greatest benefit to the Mission.
In the year 1828, the raupo church was replaced with a lath and plaster structure, which served until 1856 when a wooden church was built. This was used until 1874, when it was dismantled and another wooden church erected, incorporating much of the old timber. In 1925 the 1874 church was dismantled. It made way for the stone Church of St Paul, the fifth to be erected on the site. It was built as a lasting memorial to Henry and William Williams.
The stone came from near Kawakawa and the kauri beams from near Waikare.
The stained glass window was installed on the occasion of the Williams family reunion to commemorate 175 years since CMS missionary brothers Henry and William Williams landed in Paihia. Details and photos can be found in the church.
The first organ to be brought to New Zealand was used in Paihia Church. It arrived between 1824 and 1826. Later moved to Pakaraka it is now in the Wanganui Museum. The present organ is of similar design and vintage.
One of the towns you hear about is Russell. Practically everyone who goes to the Bay of Islands has visited Russell. So, what's the attraction?
Well, if you're staying at Paihia there's a ferry ride to look forward to that brings you into the middle of the bay upon which Russell sits. Though you can drive there it's such a long route that the majority of people either take the ferry or the car ferry out of Opua.
Once there you have come into a pretty, sheltered location with some interesting wooden architecture, something you have to get used to in New Zealand.
There's not a lot of the place, roughly three or four blocks on the flat in front of the house-spotted slopes behind but it certainly has that enchanting feel about it.
The policeman's house, still in use today, was first occupied in 1870 and the huge Moreton Bay Fig shown in pic 1 was planted around the same time. It's actually in front of the policeman's house.
We hadn't actually been on the bay except for going to Russell so we were looking forward to going on the evening cruise.
To "ease" people in to the evening we each had to do a turn with a ridiculous pair of glasses and a sailor's hat. Of course, I wasn't going to get caught in those (pic 4) but, 5 minutes later, there I was chatting away in this stupid outfit!
It opened up the conversations that everyone was dying to have and by the time we reached the waterfall it was fairly boisterous.
The crew also explained sea birds and mangroves on the way before we dined around the area of the waterfall.
At 2.5 hours it was about an hour short for us as we felt there were many conversations that had a long way to go and, worst of all, there was no tea or coffee at the end!
At $75 it offer you a different experience and, I would suggest it's the type of thing you'd want to do once but probably not repeat.
It was like, we've done Pekapeka Bay, it's overcast, might as well go for a drive.
Thus is was that we discovered Million Dollar Drive. What a name; I loved it and I loved the drive. It takes you above Tauranga and Matauri bays and in between gives you ocean and land scenery that makes you want to keep on driving forever.
Sadly, in the VT format it doesn't quite do them justice but, if you blow them up you'll get some idea of how good it was.
If you're looking for it on a map, it's the road that loops east of Kaeo and when you see some of the views you'll find it hard to disagree with the title given to road.
There are signs indicating a tourist drive so just follow those and you'll end up where we did.
When you return from Flagstaff you arrive at the beach (pic 1) but you should be warned your walk any further can be tide dependent.
There's more than enough to keep you busy for the day although a visit to the museum won't detain you long, though Rosemarie was interested in the shark's jaws (pic 2) and they have a scale model of a famous ship plus a huge lobster.
The scene from the back of the beach is just like a postcard (pic 3) and there's any amount of interesting residences, some set behind charming picket fences.
Christ Church is the oldest in New Zealand and thus the cemetery is a wonderful repository of history.
One inescapable fact is that those who live by the water often die by the water. Drownings are a feature of many a tombstone here though the one of Captain Christie of the barque Harriett (pic 4) is a reflection of poor medical conditions at the time. The captain died of complications that set in after he experienced a fall on his vessell. An inflammation around the ribs was the cause of his ultimate demise. The fine example of a box tomb is made of Sydney sandstone.
The six men of the H.M.S. Hazard who perished in the defence of Kororereka (pic 2) are buried in a mass grave, clearly maintained by the committee who look after the area.
The large flower of the protea (pics 3 & 5) provided a contrast of colour.
The church has a book, "Christ Church Cemetery Trail" that is available inside for a nominal fee in the honesty box and that enlightens you on what and where the interesting sites are.
One of the activities you can indulge in (recommended) is to walk up to Flagstaff Hill. This has the combined benefits of (a) giving you some exercise (b) giving you panoramic views and (c) giving you a history lesson. All that and it's free.
There's a couple of routes, the one we took up takes you past some of the real estate of those-who-can-afford and there's certainly some beautiful homes amongst them.
When you arrive at the top it's a great orientation point, both in terms of how the Bay of Islands is situated and how it stands in history.
The first flagstaff was erected in 1840 after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The chequered history of the pole(s) after that is almost a goon style comedy if it weren't so serious.
Eventually, in 1857, the flagstaff issue was resolved and the final one was erected, part of which is still there today, and it was given the title Whakakotahitanga, which means "being at one with the queen".
A little further up the hill is a sundial which represents the apex as well as the time.
On the way back we took the slightly longer route through the bush. Though it was supposed to be closed we took a chance anyway and, as I usually find, there's just a small spot where you encounter a little difficulty and, other than that, there's no problem. This walk brings you out on to the beach and makes for a special entry back to the town. The whole exercise can be completed comfortably within an hour and by then you'll be looking forward to a cuppa at one of the restaurants.
It was only that I overshot the departure point described in the previous tip that I found Oke Bay not, I suspect, that it was lost anyway.
It was such a beautiful beach that I couldn't help but walk down just to have a quick squiz as we say in colloquial Australia.
The steep narrow stairway isn't all that far down before you have to negotiate a few rocks and then you're onto the sand. In my case, the only one on the sand.
The gentle seas, forced into submission by offshore islands, lap the beach and beyond is the impressive finger called Cape Brett that stretches as far as the eye can see.
It truly is a place to recharge your batteries, a place of nature in the raw. I loved it.