Bay of Islands

22 November 2018

We were all awake and up by 08:00 and, having established a sort-of morning routine, we had breakfast and packed everything into the car ready to move on again. I managed to whack my head on Cornelia’s bunk bed although the cracking noise my head made was worse than the actual hurt, thank goodness.

Out of the blue, Cornelia begged to go to the park before we set off and, knowing that we would be in the car for at least six hours today, I was happy to oblige. We skipped on up there, immediately meeting a German family with two daughters, one of whom was four years old, Lisa, and she spoke perfect English and German. Matt and Marion have been living in Auckland for a year and are staying for a couple of years. They were a really lovely family. We exchanged travelling stories and challenges, and it’s always reassuring to hear that Cornelia’s moods are perfectly normal. In saying that, she has not had many meltdowns recently, and I think staying a couple of nights in different places, with shorter days in the car is better for her generally.

And so we left Hot Water Beach and set off on the long journey to Russell, in the Bay of Islands. We stopped off in Auckland as I needed to collect the contact lenses that mum had sent out to me, once we knew she was not going to be able to bring them with her. I had forgotten to mention that I didn’t need all twelve boxes, so reposted eight boxes straight back to the U.K. but their postal system seems very efficient, and it was very quick and easy for me to do this.

It was lunchtime, and we stumbled across The Stables by complete chance. The Stables is an indoor hall, with numbered tables in the centre and various assorted restaurants around each edge. So, Cornelia could have fish and chips from the seafood restaurant, Ian had a roast beef sandwich from the British-inspired eatery, and I had a Turkish chicken sandwich. All of the service was prompt and the food was terrific. It is a great concept, and something that might work very well in Exeter – sharing the common area rather than paying for individual premises.

On the way back to the car, we saw lots of people in costumes and a film crew. Our quick enquiry told us that they were filming Power Rangers. Caroline – if you are reading this, we stopped to think of you and remembered darling Zac. Cornelia was a bit nervous about the characters dressed up in bright pink costumes, yelling and fighting, so we didn’t hang around for too long. Once we were allowed to cross the filming zone, we disappeared underground back to our car.

Next it was another couple of hours winding our way up Highway 1 and across a little ferry to Russell. Russell is a small town (population about 800, I think) situated in the Bay of Islands. We were very lucky with our timings – we arrived at the ferry port as they were loading the cars on, and we were the last car. We were able to drive on immediately and Cornelia and I got out of the car and watched as we crossed from one side to the other.

Our Top 10 campsite was a five minute drive away, and we are in a great two-bedroomed “villa” situated on the hillside overlooking the sea. I got chatting to Sharon, the receptionist, who had given up her CFO job with her husband and they were now travelling in New Zealand. They were working here for four months and gradually working their way down south doing four-month stints in each place. She had also recently taken up running, so was able to give me a couple of good roots and advise me on the best cafés and supermarkets! I gathered up various leaflets on things to do here, and I’m not sure we will have enough time to do everything!

Once we were installed in our villa, I cracked on making supper (prawn satay for me and Ian, prawn pasta for Cornelia). Despite her protestations that she didn’t like the prawns, I played a “guess what I’ve just put in your mouth” game with her and she ate everything in her bowl!

Ian then gave her a shower while I washed up, and she was very ready for bed. It was just after 21:00, and she dropped off straight to sleep, not even needing a cuddle from me.

To my great horror, I discovered we were out of chocolate (gasp!) so ended up scoffing a lemon curd tart and some shortbread. 🐷 I also made the mistake of turning on the TV and happening upon the final episode of The Bachelorette, followed by a hilarious fly on the wall program about working on a chartered yacht “Below Deck”. This took me up until 23:00, by which time I could barely my eyes open!

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