Whangaruru Bay & Elliot BayOctober 28, 2017 in New Zealand
We drove a very scenic coastal loop to Russell and the Bay of Islands (a very popular tourist destinations).
At Whangaruru Peninsula we walked a 6km loop past a wetland, along the coast and through the rainforest. Buzzing bees were everywhere and the flowers smelt great. It turned out they were Manuka trees, from which the famous (and expensive) Manuka honey is made. The track took us to a Trig (hilltop viewpoint) with a great 360° view.
Further along the road, a small trail ventured off onto a small headland. It had steep edges but was totally worth it. The view of Elliot Bay up ahead was really nice. The waves were washing up against the rocks and below a few small islands and coves had formed.
At Elliot Bay, a creek was carving its way through the beach. We walked along the water, past a headland and came out to a nice long stretch of calm beach. We jumped in the water and did some bodysurfing. The water was a lot colder than in Australia though! A bunch of large rocks at the edge of the surf created natural pools where we saw more starfish. And we explored some dark (but unfortunately empty) caves in the rocks.
We drove on to Russell, a small town where whalers used to get drunk and have a good time. Now it was a tourist hotspot, with several monuments to New Zealand’s history and good views of Bay of Islands. We went up to Flagpole Hill, where a Maori chief cut down the British flag four times, each time it was resurrected. Eventually the British started a battle over it, which the Maori won. Today the relationship between the Maori and “settlers” is much better. The hill also had a large, artistic sundial.
At the campsite, we saw our first wekas, large, chicken-like birds. We heard that there were also kiwi birds nearby and that they would come out at night. I set up my lawn chair, covered myself in dark blankets and hoped one would come out of the bushes. From my perch, I heard a few kiwi calls (15 screeches, eeee---eeee---eeee…, 17 screeches, one far off in the distance) but none came out. After an hour or so, I called it quits and crawled in the van.
In the morning, we did a short track overlooking the Bay of Islands. It started in a richer part of town, with many large houses overlooking the ocean. We walked up the green grassy fields and saw two guinea pigs hiding in the grass. We climbed to the top of the hill. The views were breathtaking (or maybe it was the tough climb up the hills).Read more