Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 7 March 2008

Thursday & Friday 6th & 7th March 2008 - Bay of Islands activities

Thursday

A long drive, leaving our lovely lodge at 8.50am, to travel across to Coromandel town, then down the coast to Thames. The Aeroview Garden Centre cafe proved excellent and suffiently replenished, we headed for Auckland, just to pass through at this stage of the trip.

A motorway! And lots of traffic. The views as we crossed Harbour Bridge were excellent, but we didn't mind the loss of traffic quite quickly on the north side. The fast road made the journey a quick one, and by around 4ish, we were in the vicinity of the Bay of Islands.

Martin pulled in for a toilet stop. My memory jogged as I recalled something from the Rough Guide. We were in Kawakawa, and had just passed a sign for the Hundertwasser toilets. Those who might have read the Rough Guide will know that these are 'tourist attraction' toilets. Built by a German, they are somewhat different, made from pots, bottles, and tiles and very attractive indeed! Although the guide recommended it, I didn't venture into the gents, as the ladies was quite an artistic place in itself! (The gents were scenic so far as I can recall, more urgent business was on my mind at the time!! - M)

So, now we are at Mayfair Lodge in Paihia, the main town in the Bay of Islands. The evening was a warm one, and we had a pleasant walk along the sea front to the wharf as it got dark.

Friday

Today, we went our separate ways. I was Island Dive's only client for a 2-dive trip into the bay. The Pacific was calm, the weather warm and increasingly sunny as we headed out, and I was looking forward to my first dives since August.

We moored at Potato Island, to dive Cathedral Cave. Things got off to a good start with an eagle ray swimming past. Then, some kelp, before the cave, where we found a pink nudibranch and an eel, followed by shoals of bigeye fish, reflecting purple in the torchlight. Their silhouettes, at the top of the cave, will be etched in my mind for some time.

Then, something I've never experienced. We broke open urchins to feed the fish 'sea eggs'. They loved it and were happy to be touched and even held in your hands. When I mask continually filled, I realised that I was smiling too much....! Awesome!

Lunch on our 'own' beach on Redhead Island before a dive in search of dinner. The swell was greater here, and the brown kelp and we swayed over the purple rocks. We did 'bag' one crayfish, but on return to the boat, found it didn't meet the minimum size requirement and had to be returned to the sea. Shame. We did, however, see another eagle ray and a stingray that was eating part of fish carcass on the sea bed. It was lovely to be out on the sea on such a calm and warm day.
Photos to follow (too big to blog)
Back at base, I awaited Martin's return.....

I'd borrowed a bike from the hostel. Got distracted by a boat called Tui...

Then by a Tui bird, and managed to get a recording of its song. (To follow!)

The forest tracks were closed so I left the MTB action for Delamere Forest next week. Any takers?
Back to Mayfair for lunch then a delightful walk past some pretty weeds...

along the coast to Opua

and back - about 14 km - before returning for tea, beer, wine, and a lovely salmon salad in the excellent company of Christine, who has promised the best ever carrot cake recipe!

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