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A Great Walk in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Bay of Islands Walking Trail

Bay of Islands Walking Trail

I’m on a budget designed to sustain my travels for as long as possible.  When I arrived at my hostel in Paihia, I was bombarded by brochures for every kind of excursion imaginable.  I was kind of sad that I didn’t feel I could afford any of the exciting-sounding excursions: swimming with dolphins, surfing down sand dunes, sailing, snorkeling, wine tasting, fishing, night-canoeing, you name it.  But man, I know I had a better day than anyone on those excursions, taking an incredible walk and spending no money.  Win. Win.

Today was the first time since the Camino that I have walked more than 20 kilometers in a day.  I had high hopes about walking on Jeju Island, but the heat made it impossible.  It felt so good to be back on a trail.

I’d classify this as a world-class walk.  On a day like today, with glorious weather, the walk alone is worth the long trip from Auckland.

Great walk from Paihia to Russell

This walk starts in Paihia. From the right side of town, you walk on the beach, over the rocks at the coast and then onto a trail on to the town of Opua.  From Opua, you jump on the car ferry which takes you to Russell (free for walkers).  From the ferry, walk up the hill until you see signs for the trail.  You walk the trail from Okiato for about 3 hours until you reach the ferry in Russell. Take the ferry back to Paihia for $7 NZ.  Takes about six hours and is moderately difficult in patches due to steep inclines and descents. Breathtakingly beautiful!

Stoat Trap

I saw these traps and thought “What the hell is a Stoat?” Apparently, they are not three headed monsters like I imagined but a vicious ferret-like animal that has a nasty habit of eating endangered wild birds.

As you can see from the photos below, the scenery was diverse.  There were many isolated beaches, fern groves, forests that looked like something from the dinosaur age, swamps, mangrove forests, grassy fields, and the little towns of Opua and Russell.  I was the only walker today (I broke all the spiderwebs) and got freaked out a few times because sometimes the trail went through really dark, Heart of Darkness-y forests. Nature can’t be trusted.  I’ve watched enough nature shows to know that once you get out of the United States bugs look like sticks, spiders look like leaves, and deadly snakes look like hamburgers.  You just can’t know what is around when all of nature is throwing a masquerade party.  Although my imagination was running like a wild stallion, I saw nothing but birds.  The air was the freshest I’ve ever smelled.

As I walked into Russell my feet and back ached, but in a good way.  It brought back memories of the Camino.  I caught the ferry back to Paihia at 5 pm.  A truly wonderful day.

Photo Gallery from a Walk from Paihia to Opua to Okiato to Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand:

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