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.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Journey To Northland : Paihia Part 1

Salam and hi guys,

It's been a while (pretty long time) since my last blog entry. I'm pretty much busy lately and that hindered me from blogging. But I managed to steal some of my time to write back whatever I have left discontinued before, which is my travelogue around New Zealand during my final year in 2012.

The bad things of leaving this travelogue for a long time are that I probably has forget some of the moments that I have remembered during this journey, so I have to look back upon the pictures that I captured and put in an order so that I could write anything related.

So here we go,

Going Southwards ( 26 November 2012)

At Kerikeri, I checked out from my hostel early in the morning as I have booked my bus ticket at 10.00 am. Bus stop was not far from hostel and within walking distance. While waiting for the bus to turn up, I had my breakfast at Subway which is just in front of the bus stop. Finally bus has arrived and it's bound for Auckland.

The journey to Paihia did not take much time since it is not really far from Kerikeri. After about 45 minutes from Kerikeri, finally I reached Paihia. Bus stopped at the I-Site, which is located at the center of the town. From there I walked to my hostel, YHA Bay of Islands situated at the southern part of the town and not really far from the beach.

The hostel is very spacious. The ground floor consists of receptionist, kitchen and dining room and also TV room while first floor is where the rooms are. I booked myself a 4-person room and sharing it with the others. There is person in-charge of cleaning the room and other communal rooms from 10 am to 12 pm.

View from outside of my room.

 The coast is clear. Not many people here during this time since they went out to travel around.

Ground floor. The sliding door is the entrance into the kitchen and dining room.

 Dining room.

Kitchen. I used to cook during off peak hour so no need to queue up to use the stove.

The front view of the hostel.

So after finished loading up my stuff at my room, I went out to walk around the town. I planned also to get across the bay to Russells by ferry to shoot sunset  from there.

Paihia, Bay of Islands (26 November 2012)

Paihia is a town located in Bay of Islands region in northern part of North Island, New Zealand. Being surrounded by beaches, islands and coves, it is famous as tourist attraction. During this travel, there were many tourists and travelers here coming from around the world for holidays. I walked from hostel to town dropped by the beach just 100 meter from hostel to snap few pictures.

Secluded, shady part of the beach near to the town's jetty.

Beach near to my hostel in Paihia.

Many yachts and boats moored here.

Romantic Russell.

As I mentioned earlier, I planned to go to Russell via ferry from Paihia. So I did. Since it was in the middle of summer that time, the sun set quite late, which was around 8pm. So I have plenty of time to walk around the township of Russell that afternoon. The ferry services to Russell from Paihia is located at the jetty behind the I-Site, running until 10.00pm for the last ferry from Russell back to Paihia. I forgot how much does it cost, but you can pay it to the ferry driver for every single journey.

View from the center of Paihia Town.

Jetty to Russell.

Finally, ferry arrived. The journey took around 15 minutes before reaching Russell.

View from inside the ferry.

Tourist family that join together on board to Russell that afternoon.

Finally I reached Russell. The weather is still, great at that time and fiery sunset seemed promising for my camera :) But it was quite early so I decided to walk around the town and then walk through the jungle track to the Flagstaff Hill Reserve located on the hill nearby that overlook the town and bay.

Russell, formerly known as Kororāreka, was the first permanent European settlement and sea port in New Zealand. It was once an important city and port in New Zealand. It has a bad reputation once as the "Hellhole of the Pacific" where bandits, pirates and outlaws are settling here. After the Treaty of Waitangi and the administration moved to modern day Auckland, the town are pretty much abandoned and only nowadays has small amount of population residing there. 

It is also known as "Romantic Russell" simply by its beauty and usually couples choose to spend their honeymoon here, having dinner while enjoying the view of the beach during sunset.

Russell main jetty.

Russell also got beautiful beach, stretching all the way to the northern side of the town.

Russell Town Hall.

Beautiful beach side and this road.

The signboard showing the direction around the town.

Secluded area with a bench. I imagined this area will looks beautiful during sunset and late evening.

Unused boat overturned.

After finished and satisfied walking around the town, I went up to the Flagstaff Hill by Flagstaff Hill Track.
The journey went uphill across the forest reserve. I did stop many times to rest since I carried my camera and tripod together and since the journey is going uphill. But there were many fantastic stops around where I can bring out my camera and taking few good photos.

I stopped at this viewpoint since I was tired. And it turned out that it's pretty good place to take photos :)

Came across this weka bird. It almost resembled the rare kiwi birds which are not easily found these days.

Finally, I reached the peak of Flagstaff Hill. Before this hill was used for the flagpole it was occupied by prehistoric Māori, which is seen by the terraced slopes of the hill.During the period from 1840 to 1913 six flagstaffs were erected here. The flagstaff previously erected at Waitangi was transported across in March 1840. The flag of the confederation of Maori tribes was chosen by the Maori people in 1834 and had flown until 1840. Some Maori in the Bay believed that the Union Jack was a symbol of their loss of authority and prosperity and they believed terms of the Treaty were not being honoured. The first four flagstaff’s were cut down by Hone Heke and his cohorts as an objection to British sovereignty sparking the Northland wars. The flagstaff was never erected again during the lifetime of Heke.

Stairway to the peak of Flagstaff Hill.

The written history of Flagstaff Hill.

Beautiful view up here.

View of the township of Russell.

After spent time up here, I walked downhill back to the town as the sun was going down. 

Beautiful view of Russell.

Beach at Russell just before sundown.

Setting up my stuff to capture the sunset near the jetty.

Result from my camera that evening.

There you go....the beauty of Russell during sunset. Sun setting down at Bay of Islands.

View at the jetty just after sun setting down.

As it was already night, so I packed up my stuff and went back to Paihia with the last ferry at 10.00 pm. As I arrived back to my room, I slept early as I feel tired. And of course I have my own plan tomorrow.

The Treaty Ground - Waitangi (27 November 2014)

My plan for the second day was to visit Waitangi which is situated not far from the town, on the way back to Kerikeri and Kaitaia. That's the plan for that afternoon so what I did in the morning was to cook my breakfast, editing pictures, going online and also cook for lunch. Lucky that day, I met a family from Malaysia who happened to stay at the same hostel and were on their holidays that time. So we chatted a lot while having lunch, especially on the holidays plan.

After finished lunch, I packed up my stuff and started walking slowly to Waitangi. It took me around 45 minutes walking slowly along the beaches near Paihia, enjoying the view. Finally, I reached Waitangi and went straight to the entrance of Waitangi Museum.

By the time I arrived, the area was to be closed already and the receptionist there suggested me to come back tomorrow. But then I decided to continue anyway since it was going to rain tomorrow according to the weather forecast. The entrance fee is $25 for adult and $5 for child.

The area is large, consisting a museum building that display the historic timeline of the Treaty of Waitangi, the rebuilt site of James Busby's house (James Busby is the British Resident before the Treaty was signed), Waitangi Ground and Te Marae (Maori house).

For those who want to know about the Treaty of Waitangi, basically it is a treaty signed between British Government with the local chiefs from various tribes (iwis) that consists of mutual agreement that the local Maori tribes recognized the governorship (kawanatanga) of the British government upon New Zealand (Aotearoa) and in return British will recognize the chieftainship (rangatiratanga) of the local tribe leaders. For Malaysian, it is almost the same with Malayan Union, except that our Sultans did not signing the agreement thus not recognizing it.

View inside the museum.

Wheelchair and the signboard near the Treaty Ground where the flagstaff located.

Replica of the dining room inside James Busby's house.

Displays inside James Busby's House.

Courtyard of James Busby's house.

Te Marae, or the meeting house in Maori. It was built near to the Resident House and the suggestion to build it was proposed by Sir Apirana Ngata, the first Maori politician and member of New Zealand Parliament. 

When I arrived at Te Marae, there was a meeting being conducted inside so I decided to wait. During that time, I was approached by a Maori-descent security guard who was also waiting for the meeting to finish. We chatted a lot, especially about the history of the Maori and Polynesian people that finally residing in New Zealand thousand years ago. I did tell him that the Malay people are somehow inter-related to the Polynesian people and I gave him few examples in terms of Malay words that relatively similar in Maori language such as:

1. Dua - Rua in Maori which means two.

2. Lima - Rima in Maori which means lima.

3. Telinga - Taringa in Maori which means telinga.

4. Benua - Whenua in Maori which means continent.

5. Mati - Mate in Maori which means dead.

He seemed impressed. We continue to talk and finally the meeting was finished so I was be able to go inside the Marae to take pictures. 

View inside the Marae. Beautiful carvings I must say.

Bench in front of the carved pillars - Red Indian called it totem pole.

The Flagstaff outside the Marae and in front of the James Busby's house. This is where the meeting between British Government representative, Sir William Hobson (who later on become the first Governor General of New Zealand) and the local iwi chiefs from Nga Puhi tribes. This is also where the signing of the Treaty was taking place.

Replicas of the Maori huts nearby the exit way.

Two giant Waka, which is big Maori boat being displayed here at The Treaty Ground. At the end of these boats, there is the bark of the giant Kauri tree which was used to construct these wakas.

After finished and satisfied going around the place, so it is time to go back to Paihia, and then to my room. But as it was almost late evening, I took the chance to capture sunset images so I went scout around for the best vantage point which I found it just in time. There is a pier near to the outlet of Waitangi river which has many boats and yachts moored there. By the time I reached the pier, there were two guys fishing there. Judging from their looks, they are Chinese. But when I asked, they came from Samoa and having holidays there. 

Time has come for me to take pictures and these are two of my best shot there:

Done taking pictures, now I walked back slowly to my hostel. I didn't cook for dinner and having instant noodles instead since I was tired to do so. I slept early that night, as usual.

That concludes the first part of the Paihia series. In the next entry, I'll write about my experience on having overnight cruise around the islands of Bay Of Islands. 

Thanks for reading :)