Paihia Party

Out of auckland, if you want to head north, you take the State Highway 1. It’s really the only road to get you clear of the sprawl and is much like any other highway. But soon this generic road turns into a (moderately) high speed roller coaster of a road. Its sweeping curves loop around the geological features and farms. It looks uncannily like middle england except as a dream your remembering where everything is picture post card pretty and the roads ripple like a ribbon into the distance. It even lead to Snells Beach in my fantasy.

Every now and again there is a town which looks faintly American with big gaudy signs and colourful buildings. There seem to be a lot of auto shops in New Zealand… I stopped off in one of these called Whangarei. The “wh” is pronounced as an “f” making asking for directions a bit tricky. Here I found a food store called Pak’n’Save. Its like what Aldi and Lidl should aspire to be like because it’s basically a giant warehouse full of food stacked to the rafters. I got myself some basics and some pre-tenderised steaks, thinking I could find one of the State offered BBQs and cook up there.

I wanted to get out of the commercial centre before having lunch so I moved along the road a bit and found Whangarei Falls. This has been turned into a sort of picnic park which I imagine is full during the holidays because you call swim in the river feeding the falls. Although official government signs prohibit it. The was a track down to the bottom of the falls and I saw people swimming so this had worked out perfectly.

The falls were massive and seem to have appeared out of nowhere. First its just a calm small river and next there is a 100ft drop into a jungle pool. It was so surreal swimming in this pool, surrounded by high black cliffs and jungle just a few mins out of the town proper.

After that refreshing dip, i followed the track further into the trees, forgetting to actually look how far it was to whatever there was to see at the end. It was made a bit more of an effort because, being away from the bike I had to take everything with me, luckily my bag is comfy and I hadn’t over packed it.

Enroute I met a girl called Valerie from the Austria. She joined me for the stroll which was great, laughing when she found out my birthday, calling me a christ child. It turns out the walk wasn’t so long and the destination was a treetops walkway across a small valley. Nice views and getting up close to some giant trees, we couldn’t decide if the information boards were written as poems (that didn’t rhyme). Back at the top of the fanks we watched a group of kids climb a tree to jump in and then chicken out. Eventually they did it after the application of some peer pressure.

I moved on to my last stop which was Paihia and to find my hostel. It’s a fairly basic one but has a party reputation online which was what I wanted tonight. I found out my steak had leaked blood into my bag giving my travelers guide book a grizzly look. After cleaning that up, I met a group of German lads who were working in hotels around the bay and a Swiss, German and Netherlandian girl travelling for a couple of months. The drinks flowed and the party was great.