Day 3 continued…..Refreshed from our showers we set off for Russell in the bay of Islands far north. At Opua we took the ten minute vehicle ferry over to Russell. Our time was limited here, nevertheless, we strolled through the Main Street – busy with tourists like us – a blackboard ‘Best Steak Sandwich & Chips was enough to tempt the long-suffering especially after the mornings step workout! It really was the ‘best’ melt in the mouth steak and plenty of it.
We visited the oldest standing church circa 1836 in New Zealand looking remarkably pristine thanks to extensive restoration in 2000. The immaculately kept graveyard with inscriptions on headstones telling a story of many lives taken too soon. Even on the oldest stones words were still clearly legible a testament to the caretakers over the years family or otherwise.
Next up our stop for the night, Matauri Bay. A long gradual climb up allowed stunning views out across hills shrouded in thick sea mist, before the road dropped down steep and tight winding bends into the bay.
The campsite was busy on account of the bank holiday weekend and we were lucky to get only one of a few pitches left. We did though have a partial view of the sea through the neighbours washing line!
A short walk of the site took us over to the north where the beach was rugged and rocky. An information board told the story of the Greenpeace ‘Rainbow Warrier’ scuttled out at sea in its final resting place at the Cavalli islands after years protecting the marine environment. I could not think of a more beautiful and fitting place.
Day 4. The roads out to our next destination – once out of the bay – were to start long, straight and quiet hence the long-sufferings decision to trust me behind the wheel, pulling over I’m sure I felt Aromoana shudder as we swapped places.
Mahinepua Bay – Although our up and downhill – more steps for long-suffering alias ‘sweating man’ – Peninsula walk was one way – there was a small loop at the end. Every time we walk a trail/track I think it can’t possibly get better, but oh my goodness it does! The 360° views were awe-inspiring and all the better for clear blue skies and quiet – we had the walk to ourselves.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to last. We were sat at a strategically placed seat silenced by the quiet beauty around us when gradually getting louder and louder ‘Eminem’ appeared in the form of a middle-aged lady with a ghetto blaster strapped to her back rendering us speechless!! We sat letting the racket drift off into the distance although it could still be heard two hills away……