The beautiful town of Russell is situated on the other side of the Bay of Islands. Road access to this little town is poor at best so the easiest way to go there is by ferry. Most people stay in Paihia and visit this town for a day or an afternoon. Interestingly enough, I never quite made it there, but I did see it from a boat :).
There are several tours of the Bay of Islands out there. Some are a few hours on a jet-boat and others are a multi-day affair. I decided to go for the one-day tour offered by Kings. It was an excellent experience. Oh, don?t forget to take your own picnic lunch. Check out more about the trip under my Must-See-Tips
Unless you have a 4WD and even if you do you may want to take a tour up to Cape Reinga via the impressive 90 Miles Beach. During my visit in Dec of 2003, the tour to take for the backpacker was the one offered by Magic Bus. It not only was cheaper, but also filled with like minded people. It is a load of fun! Check out more about my trip under the Off-the-Beaten-Path tips
Our lunch stop was at Dargaville. We then changed to a larger bus at Kaiwaka as we hopped back into a major highway. Driving back into Auckland, we passed several suburbs that were all covered with Christmas decorations.
Northland has some of the most impressive Kauri trees. We learn about this and more at the impressive Waipoua Forest Visitor Center. Driving through this forest was amazing as you drive past giant Kauri trees. The intense deforestation that took place here is still felt though. There are several graphic pics on the visitor center that attest to this fact.
We then continued on to see the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the tallest Kauri tree in NZ and the world. As previously described, the Kauri tree has been used by both Maori and Europeans for its highly priced timber. Centuries ago, NZ was covered by Kauri forests all over the place. Today, few of these forests remain.
My time in Paihia came to an end today as I hopped aboard an Intercity Bus back to Auckland. Rather then taking the direct quick route, I took the slower Westcapade bus that follows the attractive West Coast of Northland, the northern part of the North Island of New Zealand. The first stop of the day was at the small town of Rawene, where we had brekkie. It is situated on a beautiful bay. For those with some time, it may be worth stepping off the bus here to explore the region.
Driving : The Bay of Islands is about 4-5 hours driving time from Auckland and approx 150 miles. Take SH1 from Auckland towards Whangarei and the continue north to Paihia.
By Coach : Northliner operate a daily luxury express coach service from Auckland downtown to the Bay of Islands.