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Expect The Unexpected "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

The Northland/Bay of Islands – Ninety Mile Beach, Sand Boarding, Cape Reinga, and SKYDIVING!

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 12 March 2010 | Views [1263]

What I really wanted at this point was to travel to the north via any other method than bus – I am soo sick of coaches – so a car or campervan would have been ideal.  In the end I booked another bus but this time I decided to go Naked.  What I mean is rather than buying a connection through my tour company I booked the Naked Bus which is a low cost bus service without all the extras the backpacker buses offer – no commentary, or activity and hostel bookings.  I didn’t need assistance in booking things and I was quite happy to sit and enjoy the view without commentary for once.  Leaving the retreat center with the sunrise I boarded the coach and took the last seat available.  To my surprise the coach was really luxurious with one leather reclining captain’s chair on either side of the bus (it wasn’t the regular bus they use).  In Paihia the first day was spent exploring and enjoying the beach in the stunning Bay of Islands.  The second day was an amazing trip to the top of NZ also the most sacred place for the Maori people.  It was an action packed 12 hour trip starting at 7am with the best driver I have had here in NZ.  He was soo energetic and you could really tell he truly enjoyed his job as his excitement was contagious.  Leaving Paihia we headed to the Kauri forest for a morning walk learning of the Maori spiritualism and creation beliefs.  Onwards from here we drove along the famous Ninety Mile Beach, got out and played around the beach and taking beautiful photos of the Tasman Sea and surroundings.  After the beach we headed to the sand dunes and went sand boarding down the 82meter dunes – what a rush!  It felt like we were in the desert somewhere far away from NZ.  Thankfully it wasn’t too hot or I am sure the trek up to the top of the dunes would have been much more difficult.  Of course the views were stunning!  From here we headed to a secluded beach on the Pacific Ocean side for a swim to wash off the sand and have lunch before reaching the sacred ground.  Cape Reinga itself is a very special place, you can feel it when you enter the walkway and wander along the pathway to the lighthouse.  It is here the Maori believe the spirit goes when they pass away.  You can also clearly see the meeting of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean from this viewpoint.  On the way back to Paihia we drove along Ninety Mile Beach for a second time (only two days a year where the tides are such that it is possible) and enjoyed the best "fush and chups" in NZ from a little shop in Mangonui! 

My final day in the Bay of Islands was spent looking around the little shops, and the morning market then I headed to the information center knowing I wanted to either paraglide or skydive.  The paragliding was not available so that made my decision very easy and within 5 minutes I was in the skydiving shuttle signing my life away.  It is hard to explain the way it feels to skydive - I was filled with excitement and nervous anticipation of what was to come.  After getting all suited up I got in the small plane with just enough space for the pilot, camera diver, myself and my tandem jumper.  We flew for about 15 minutes over the stunning Bay of Islands.  They say the only way to see the area is by sailboat but I would have to say from the air was amazing.  The first moment as we were jumping out of the plane and facing towards the earth I was absolutely terrified – but this only lasted a second or two -before I knew it we were upright and doing a few spins freefalling from 12 000 feet.  The camera guy was in my face trying to get me to blow kisses to the camera and make faces but I was more interested in checking out the view.  Before I knew it the parachute was open, there was a sudden calm and silence as we floated slowly to the ground.  I was soo excited after jumping it was such a rush but at the same time it put me in this weird altered stated – maybe just shock or disbelief of what I had just done.  It really wasn’t scary at all and I would love to do it again someday.  I met a girl in Queenstown who kept saying that the photos and dvd’s were really necessary since it is such a surreal experience it is hard to believe you actually did it.   So true!  My trip to the Northland was absolutely memorable and a great way to spend some of my last days here in NZ.  That’s right….I am coming back to Canada on March 16th!!!  It’s like they say when you are done – you know you are done.  Of course there are things I haven’t seen but you can never see everything – it also leaves me more to explore when/if I return.  I am looking forward to the comforts of home again, a routine and not living out of a backpack for a while.  I know I will travel again – this is only the beginning – but for now there is no place like home :)

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