Sunday, August 17, 2014

Journey to Northland : Paihia Part 2

Being Idle ( 28 -29 November 2012)

It was continuously raining for these two days so I didn't go out much, except to buy groceries and food to cook later on. So I spent most of my time doing photo editing and also getting online. Wifi is good here, but to use it you have to pay. Just simply login online and give your credit card / debit card details and off you go. But if you're registered YHA membership, you'll have wifi connection for free.

It was during this period that I made the last minute decision, to go for another trip within two weeks time which was to go down to South Island. So what I did that time was to book flight and coach tickets, accommodation and other stuffs that matters. Pretty much a hectic situation for me, but it was really worth it. So expect another series of travelogue from me in the next entries.

Ipipiri Overnight Cruise by Fuller's Great Sights (30 November 2012)

Today was the second last day to my journey up here in Northland, after traveled to Whangarei and Kerikeri before going back home in Palmerston North. So for today, I went on board the luxury overnight cruise called Ipipiri. This trip was actually out of initial plan for this journey, but I was happened to be lucky to get cheap ticket from Trademe where a guy was selling his ticket last minute for a really reasonable price. Usually the ticket costs around $400 but I got it for $170 only.

Launched in 2009 by Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands, for the past five years Ipipiri has cruised the sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands providing unique tours of the region to international and domestic visitors, wedding parties and local groups. In 2014 Ipipiri was relocated to Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour and now, under the name of Hauraki Blue Cruises, she offers an overnight cruise experience and half-day harbour lunch cruises around the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, as well as a premium Auckland wedding venue, and conferences, meetings and incentives venue.

Ipipiri is the flagship vessel of Hauraki Blue Cruises. At 146 feet (44.5 metres), she is the largest cruising ship permanently based in New Zealand, providing a truly impressive cruise experience. Spread over four levels, this catamaran includes 30 ocean view cabins, a spacious sundeck with 360 degree views and a 70-seat restaurant and bar. Cruising at 12 knots, the vessel has been designed to provide maximum stability and minimum wake.

Photo of the cruise.

I checked out that morning from YHA Backpackers with all my belonging and went to the I-Site at town. Reason why I went early is that the baggage storage at I-Site is limited and I don't want to bring all of my stuff on the cruise. Luckily I managed to get a locker for my stuff and later on registered at the counter. It was 9 am that morning and the receptionist there said that they will gather all the participants at 12.30 pm, so I still have plenty of time. So, I went to the nearby stall and have my breakfast.

Finally, the time has come and all of the passengers were gathered at the main lobby of I-Site. I estimated that there were around 30 guests that going on the cruise that day including me. We were accompanied by Fuller's Great Sights company on-duty staffs to the bus that brought us the jetty where the cruise sails, which was at Opua, which is about 10 km southwards from Paihia. On bus while on the journey to Opua, we were given short briefing on the cruise activities and also about offered us on the photos collection of the whole activities captured by their respective photographers which is collectible upon the end of the cruise.

Short briefing by Fuller's Tourist Guide on the bus.

Finally, we reached Opua. After finished taking our belongings, we were lining up to board the ship. During this time, there was a photographer who took our photos with the background the cruise one by one (or by partner of family) before going on board. 

Lining up to go on the cruise.

First and foremost, we were asked to go to the main dining deck first as there was a briefing to be conducted by the captain of the ship. We were also introduced with the staffs on board like the cabin crews and chefs. The briefing was mainly about the facilities on board, activities and tentative of that afternoon until the end of the cruise, do's and dont's on the ship and other stuffs that matters. Finally, we were given our room key and accompanied to respective rooms.

Captain of the ship during the main briefing.

View from my room :)

My room. Taken with my ultra wide angle lens.

Quite nice aye? :)

We were told that the cruise is now heading towards the islands away from the land and our first stop was one of the islands for few activities such as swimming, kayaking and island trekking. So until that time, we were free to stay at rooms or going on the dining deck to have refreshments or to view the surroundings on the top observation deck. I decided to have lunch before going up to the observation deck.

Muffin and hot chocs for lunch.

View from the lower observation deck.

A windsurfer surfing from one island to another.

There was a huge cruise that sails in Bay of Islands that day. I was also noticed that its passengers also waited at I-Site Paihia and being brought to the jetty near Waitangi Ground with vans and later on to this cruise with few boats.

Sailing Ship that passed our cruise.

One of the beautiful islands that we passed along our journey.

Finally, the cruise arrived at one of the islands which I don't know its name. Announcement was made by the crew that who are interested to go to the shore are asked to gather at the bottom deck, where a boat will bring us to the beach at that island. Those who wanted to stay on the cruise are allowed to do so. So I went to the bottom deck and waited for boat to pick me and others to the shore

On the boat from the cruise to the shore of the island.

View of Ipipiri from the boat. Isn't she a beaut?

Finally reached the shore. Luckily I didn't soak my shoes.

On this island, we were given two choices of activities which are the island walking and water kayaking. Since I didn't want to get myself soaked and I didn't bring with me spare clothes, so I decided to do walking around the island. We were given two hours at most to explore the island before going back to Ipipiri. The walking track was not difficult and the only tiring walk was only that the track is going uphill. But the view up there is great where we can see our cruise and other yachts that moored there at the beach. I took few pictures there.

View from the top of the island. Ipipiri can be seen at the top right corner of the picture.

View on the rear side of the island.

On the way back, I met with the elderly Asian couple where they asked me to take their picture. We walked together back to the beach and I learned that they're Malaysian but now residing in Melbourne, doing business of supplying medical equipment to the hospitals. The uncle was from Sungai Petani but spent his primary and secondary education years in St George Taiping (he mentioned that when I told him I come from Taiping). And his wife was from Kuala Terengganu. We talked a lot,( in fact that the uncle was so talkative) about Malaysia and what's currently happening that time.

Some of us went kayaking around the island.

 Ipipiri as seen from the beach.

 Boat that brought us from and back to the ship.

Finally, we were going back to the cruise the same way as we came. Participants were brought back group by group. After everybody were getting on the ship, we are free to do anything until late evening where dinner is served. So I took the liberty of getting around the cruise to take pictures. Meanwhile, the cruise is moving again and the captain told us that the cruise will stop and stay at one of the secluded cove around the islands that night. 

 Again, the picture of my room. 

 Lobby outside of my room. 

 The Malaysia born uncle and auntie (I forgot to ask their name) having conversation with another couple who also came from Australia

Light refreshments were served that afternoon while waiting for dinner.

View in the dining deck.

Me enjoying the view from the rear of the cruise.

 The top observation deck. It is where you can see the 360 degree view from the top of the ship.

 The others were enjoying the journey outside the dining room.

Suddenly, the announcement was made by the cabin crew saying that there is a group of dolphins swimming around the cruise. So I grabbed my camera, changing lens and try for couple of shots. Luckily I got few nice shots of the dolphins. The other passengers and crews were eager to see my pictures when I told them I got the nice shots of these dolphins.

Pair of dolphins that swimming around the cruise.

Finally, the cruise stopped here and the anchor set down. I took this picture few minutes before the sun goes down.

As the dinner was ready to be served, we were asked to gather at the dining deck. It was three course meal that being served which are the starter, main course and finally dessert. The starter was served ala carte and the main course and dessert were served as buffet. I sit with the the Malaysian uncle and aunty and also the Australian couple and a mainland Chinese student during that time.

Ze starter.

Grilled lamb and rice for the dinner.

 Shared the table with them; the Malaysian uncle and aunty and the Australian couple (his wife was not in the picture).

What I have for dessert.

 Having conversation after finished with dinner. 

View in the dining deck after dinner was over.

So, practically, the night was over and everyone were going back to their room for rest. Me did the same too, having bath and lying on my bed, but when I see through the window, I saw the full moon rising. Big one. So I bring my camera and went to the top observation deck and took few pictures. Only then, I went to my bed and sleep.

On my bed.

 Moon and moonlit on the top of the cruise.

1st December ; The Final Day in Paihia and Northland Trip.

I woke up at 5 am that morning, having my Fajr prayer. Since it was in the mid Summer, the sun rise up early. I decided not to sleep back after prayer and brought my camera up to the observation deck to see and capture the sunrise. Joining me on the deck was a guy from Auckland who worked as an engineer at Tegel Chicken Poultry. He was on fishing trip yesterday and joined us on board last night.

View from my room early that morning.

 View from the top observation deck that morning, few minutes before sun rising up. 

Sunrise over a secluded settlement at one of the islands near to the cruise.

 Made this panorama shooting from in front of the cruise.

Announcement was made at 7.15 am to wake up everyone who still sleeping and to prepare themselves for breakfast which will be served at 8.00 am. 

After done with the breakfast, the cruise set up and sailed back to Opua. But along the journey back we were brought around the islands. The captain while driving the cruise, he gave out commentary on the specific islands that we went passing by and the stories and histories that lie behind it. Sometimes we went across few groups of dolphins that swimming. I got few pictures of the dolphins, but not as good as the day before to my liking.

Video that I recorded while on the way back to Opua.

Islands, boats and no dolphins.

 One of the dolphins went up.

Finally, the cruise was on its way back to Opua. We were told to pack up stuff and belongings together and later on gather all the stuff outside of the dining room. Most of us were going up to the observation deck, taking pictures while waiting to arrive at Opua.

 Ferry that brought dolphins observers around the island.

Some of the yachts that moored around the bay. It seemed like Bay of Islands is the summer or holidays escapade for Kiwi riches who probably want to escape from their jobs at the cities.

Finally, we reached Opua. On the way off the boat, the captain and cabin crews were lining up to meet the participants, thanking each others and wishes a safe journey. We were escorted back to the bus that already awaited at the jetty and then going back to I-Site, Paihia. 

I wished farewell to the nice auntie and uncle that I spent most of the time with them as they're leaving for Russell and then to Auckland, catching flight to go south to Christchurch. It was 12pm in noon and my coach to Auckland will departs at 2pm so I waited there at the I-Site lobby, online while waiting for the coach to come.

Finally the bus came and I left Paihia for Auckland at 2 pm. I reached Auckland around 5 pm and from there I catch the next connecting bus back to Palmerston North at 8 pm. I have my late lunch, Zohor and Asar prayer at Auckland before leaving for Palmerston North. 

All praises be to God, I reached Palmy at 4.50 am in the morning of 2nd December. It was a fun journey really, especially when I was travelling alone. I learnt many things during this journey and of course, I did enjoy the scenic views of the Northland. 

Thanks guys for reading this series. But it is not ended yet. I was at Palmy only for a week before I set out again travelling, this time I was going south. So, stay tune to my next entries - Journey to South.