The morning we left Whangarei we stopped briefly at the falls, which were much more impressive that expected, especially for being right in town. They are actually down in a gully, so we walked down to the bottom of them, and then back up the other side; a nice little 1km loop that Ry could do.

From there we drove more north to the town of Paihia, on the bay of islands. A picturesque bay lined with 144 islands for which we wanted to explore a bit. With 3 campgrounds to choose from we had trouble deciding, and needed an ice cream and a visit to town to help us decide.

Our campground
Who had ones of these as a kid!

Low and behold, we ran into the Aussie’s at a sea side cafe where the kids were running around the plaza. Company for us, and mates for the kids, and for 3 nights we parked at the Bay of Islands Campervan park. Small, but all we needed (including unlimited wifi, one washing machine, and a little playground), for a couple days of relaxing. It was a 15min long, windy but pretty, seaside walk down a paved path to town. There were cute cafe’s, a number of ice cream shops (we tested one twice), and a boardwalk along the ocean.

bay of islands regatta
Super yacht sailboat regatta in the bay of islands

bay of islands regatta

One afternoon we took a boat tour across to the hole in the rock, past the town of Russel, and on to a beautiful beach, much like one you’d find in Thailand. With pristine blue water, and white shelly sand, you would be convinced it was purely tropical. Step off the boat and the steady breeze brought you back to New Zealand reality. Gorgeous, but just a bit chilly.

bay of islands
Hole in the rock
bay of islands
About to enter the hole
bay of islands
We’re inside the belly of the beast – hole in the rock

Enroute to the island we were lucky enough to experience a large pod of common dolphins, which swam with us along side the boat for what seemed like 20 minutes. They were amazing, and so close to us. Ry thought it was pretty fantastic, as there were about 30 dolphins, just 15 feet beside the boat, maybe less. Zo slept in the ergo for nearly an hour, much to my relief.

Ry and Josh watching the dolphins
Baby dolphins
bay of islands dolphins
common dolphins

Before returning home for the day, we made a stop off at one of the islands for a quick bbq and some beach time.

bay of islands

bay of islands

Day two we needed to chill and let the kids play, while getting some laundry and camper chores done. I tried to walk down to the beach with Zo but the wind was too cold to sit with her in such an exposed section of beach, while Josh, Ry and the Aussie’s went to Action world next door to burn some energy. We then enjoyed a nice Mexican picnic at the campsite with everyone before heading to bed for the last night here. The girls (and Luca) played and got along so well for the entire day.

The nights up north have been the coldest so far, and although our quilts are likely wool stuffed, Zo has been waking up cold in the night. It’s a tricky situation because at bedtime she goes to sleep without a sleepsac (its still too hot), a couple hours later she wakes to get BOTH her light and heavy sleep sac on, and I wake up in the wee hours to pop on the heater at the base of our bed. By the time we wake up at 6:30 its already getting too hot to have it on! One day we’ll figure this thing out….

Anyway, tomorrow we’re back on the road again, heading in a southerly direction, with no real destination in mind 🙂

Friends… Ry misses her little aussie friend.

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