Day 2 to Bay of Islands
The next morning we called Apex and asked them to pick us up at our hotel. We rented through Apex and our price was $49 for the 3 separate segments of our trip. It was the best price we could find; breaking up our journey into the various trips would save us driving time, but probably cost us more for the car rental. For the first 2 segments of our trip, we would get a 4-door, automatic Nissan Sunny. The only problem we had with the car was that it was so old, it didn’t have a CD player or an MP3 outlet; I had spent a lot of time picking out music for the trip and downloading it to my MP3 player and was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to listen to it. I also added the additional insurance to the first 2 legs of the journey due to my nervousness about driving on the left; this added an additional $12 per day.
After calling Apex, we went back to Hollywood Espresso for breakfast. They had cornmeal and egg muffins with ham and tomato that were good, $3 for a large and $2.5 for a small. I also got a yogurt ($1.80) and a freshly squeezed orange juice for $4.
On the way to the car rental agency, I began to feel extremely nervous about having to drive on the left-hand side of the road for the first time ever. We managed to make it onto the freeway without my running into any pedestrians or other cars. The intersections were the most difficult since I wasn’t sure who I had to yield to or who had right of way. My motto became, look everywhere and in all directions. A few times, I felt like pulling the car over and calling Apex to come pick it up… Once we finally got to the freeway, driving was easier, but then the highway turned into a twisty, 2-lane road. Marc was carsick by the end of the journey and he never gets carsick. We almost got in a wreck in the left-hand side of the passing lane… We went around a corner and a semi-truck was at a full-stop in the left lane. I had to jerk on the brakes to avoid hitting them because there was a lot of cars passing me on the right.
After that we were both extremely tense while driving. Although I rarely took my eyes off the road, the passing landscape seemed quite beautiful, green and lush and rolling hills dotted with sheep and cattle. We stopped once for gas and once for lunch at a cafe between Whangarei and Paihia. We had meant to stop at Whangarei, but there were so few restaurants on the main drag and I was nervous about having to make turns to leave the main road, so we kept going.
We had left Auckland at 10:00 and didn’t get to Paihia until around 2:30 pm. We felt exhausted by the long drive and my whole body was tense from being so on-guard while driving… We checked into Captain Bob’s, a BBH backpackers hostel. We had reserved the only en-suite, it had a large bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen area with a sink, mini-fridge and a microwave. It cost $86 NZ per night and would have been cheaper with a BBH card, but those are $45 per person and we were only staying in two other BBH places. The hostel was a short stroll to the beach and had an outdoor seating area with ocean views. It was a short 10 min walk to the main wharf in Paihia town. It served all of our needs and we were happy with our stay there. We could faintly hear waves on the beach and birds in the trees when the windows were open, and it had a pleasant cross-breeze.
After checking in, we walked to the beach close to the hostel and strolled for awhile. Then we went to the grocery store to get stuff for breakfast. I also bought some snapper, salad greens, feta, and dressing to cook for dinner one night. Here’s the price for our groceries:
1 dozen eggs: $5
1 loaf fruit bread: $4
Small bottle salad dressing: $3
After grocery shopping, we went down for a nap. It was about 5:00 pm. We didn’t wake up until 8:30 and I felt too tired to cook, so we skipped dinner. I was feeling guilty about how little we did that day and hoped our energy levels would improve. I was also worried about how much driving I had to do on the rest of the trip, and we discussed changing our itinerary to exclude the Catlins, but couldn’t decided what where we’d go with the extra 3 days.