Day 29. Monday 4 December.

Woken up early by a bird that sounded like a combination of an old Holden starter motor and an arthritic bell ringer, later identified as the Parson Bird. Why are we surprised that a parson has rudely interrupted our sleep? Don’t they usually manage to put us to sleep?

Bay of Islands. Paihia. Stunningly beautiful, and, thanks to Australia’s help in keeping the hail, rain and wind well to the west, perfect weather. But what to do in the three days we have here – that doesn’t involve driving, or not too much?

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Into town to a booking office, where T was immediately captivated by the all day yacht trip. That’s been booked for Tuesday. We’d seen a brochure in the accommodation about a walk/kayak to Haruru Falls, but the walk was described as one and a half hours, which we roughly calculated as about 5 km – too far for T’s feet. When asked, the booking agent said we didn’t have to do the walk…pause…so D asked ‘How do we get back, then?’ The look on the booking agent’s face said ‘Gotcha!’ You paddle back, he said.

So that’s what we did. Hired a two person kayak for half a day and paddled to the falls, oohed! and aahed! and paddled back. We did attempt to land on the mangrove flats to have some lunch on the way back, but the mud was too much of a challenge – for a while we struggled to free the kayak, and it was only beached by its nose.

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We had a bit of time left on our half day hire, but opted not to go out into the bay, as the wind had freshened and conditions were not conducive to relaxing travel.

Shopping for the ingredients for the evening meal proved another small challenge requiring assistance from the self-service checkout supervisor, not once, not twice…don’t move the bag or items till….so, we departed the store without the potatoes and red chillies. In fact we couldn’t find red chillies in any supermarket, so resorted to a canned, pre-mixed red curry (very ordinary but filling enough). While dinner simmered it was time to be introduced to the first of The Hobbit films. Well, thought T…good & evil, fear, courage, obstacles, a bit of magic and lots of costume cleverness… that’s it. We’ll have to watch films 2&3 to see just how much film time actually happens in Hobbiton.

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