“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Gael Attal

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bay of Islands

Those Crazy Americans 
Last weekend we took a long weekend and skipped our Friday classes to head way way way North to the Bay of Islands, a must see in most New Zealand Guide books. Our group of 12 Americans traveled by bus to get there. It was an overnight ride exceeding 15 hours of travel from Thursday night to Friday morning. Looking back now, it would be equivalent to taking a long weekend to LA from Boulder and making the trip in a straight overnight shot. No wonder my Kiwi room mate thinks we are crazy Americans (We had the option to fly!)... Oh well the trip was amazing and well worth the travel time!
We're on a Boat! 
Bay of Islands is a paradise. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees with no wind and the water is GORGEOUS. The Bay holds 144 small islands originally named by explorer James Cook in 1769 (History Fact). When our group arrived, we boarded "The Rock" for a two day cruise around the bay. "The Rock" is a converted car ferry boasting it's bar, pool table, fire pit, and fun crew.
Within half an hour of boarding the boat, I found myself shooting paintballs at a plastic duck being towed off the back in hopes of winning a free beer. The competition was followed up by fishing for dinner. When you caught a fish, you were required to kiss it before it was cooked up. Catching the first and best fish of the evening would be rewarded with winning a free beer. With this incentive, my friend Ryan and I partnered up and soon enough got a bite. When we pulled it up, one of the Kiwi crew declared it to be the worst catch of the night (it was only about two inches long and we snagged it through the back...). Ryan kissed it anyway and we threw it back.
Kiss the Fish! 

View from the Boat. 

After a meal of the freshest fish I have ever eaten, we went out for a night kayak and swim. The stars were insane. We paddled away from the boat and floated in complete darkness. We laid back in our kayaks and took in the view. You couldn't tell where the sky ended and the dark water began. Here I also experienced bioluminescent water, something so incredible that it deserves its own post.

Eating Kina 
The next morning we had coffee on the deck of the boat, and prepared to ferry to one of the islands for a beach day. Once on the island, we headed on a short hike to a look out point with a majestic view of the bay and Ocean. Looking out onto water from here reminded me how far away from home I really am. We went snorkeling and hunted for Kina (black sea urchins whose eggs are considered a delicacy, which we ate) and enjoyed a full day of swimming and kayaking before the boat took us back to town.
Bay of Islands. Beautiful. 

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