After another night of socialising with the bussers and a good nights sleep in the tent, we were up at just after 7am and after breakfast, we were packed up and ready to depart just after 8am. This is going to be the last day on Flying Kiwi. Its been a great few weeks and the first thing I saw on Facebook this morning is that Becky, who left in Auckland just a few days ago, is already back home in England. It seems impossible and really strange that she can be on the other side of the world already while we are still travelling on the bus! It was also sad to say goodbye to Ben, who was staying in the Bay of Islands for a diving course. He has been great on the bus and will be missed on the last night tonight.
We continued onwards towards Bay Opononi, where after a quick change, we were picked up by speedboat and took to the opposite side of the bay where there are a few steep sand dunes. Boogie boards, with plastic bottoms were handed out and the next hour was spent sand-boarding down the dunes. It shouldn’t really work, but with the plastic on the boards and the steep dunes it worked really well and you could get up some good speed, before crashing head first into the sea!! It was hard work getting back up the dunes every time for another go, but it was well worth it for the fun factor. Some of the group decided to roll down without boards and I’m glad I didn’t as it looked quite painful.
After a quick dry off, an ice cream and then a group photo, we set off again, stopping for a quick look at a massive tree, that has a 13.5metre base – half as big again as the massive tree we saw in south island a couple of weeks ago. It was a quietbus for the rest of the day until we arrived in Waiwera, where after parking up and unloading the bus, we all set up our tents on a volleyball court in the middle of the camp-site.
Cook group tonight was made up of everyone who was due to leave the next day and so there were far too many of us. I got the task of grating cheese and after a good dinner of chicken fajitas, most of us took a short walk down the road to a hot pools complex for the evening. Unlike the hot pools in Franz Josef, where we just relaxed in the warm water, here there were also a number of slides too, so we all had a real good time racing down the black hole and the speed slides, as well as testing out the varying degrees of heat in the main pools themselves. They varied from a lovely 30degrees up to a scalding 45degree pool and most people tried them all. We had a contest to see who could stay in the 45 degree pool the longest and when I arrived, Buffy was leading with about 10 seconds. I got in and blew this away with about 30 seconds. I explained that the pain is all in the mind, so just don’t think about it, but I think that everyone just now thinks that I am slightly deranged - they are probably correct.
We left the pool complex about 9.30pm and after a quick change we met up on the beach where I had set up a nice little camp-fire The next 2 hours were spent sitting around it, introducing the newbies to our Flying Kiwi way of life and generally having fun. The Flying Kiwi song was played one last time and after being told to let the fire die down by some security dude, we headed off to bed by midnight.
The final journey.
It was a short 45 minute drive back to Auckland today, but most people either slept or swapped email addresses. It was fairly subdued because it was our last journey together, but also because of the news of the earthquake in Japan from last night. We had actually been given a tsunami warning while we were on the beach, but luckily the night had passed without incident. After the Christchurch earthquake though, it was yet another example of mother nature fucking with us!!
We arrived back in Auckland and us old bussers grabbed our gear and left the bus for the final time. Sanneke was particularly upset to see the last of Agnes as they had got really close – but I’m sure they will meet up again soon. We all hugged and shook hands before waving the bus off just before 10.30. I had booked myself a nice hotel, suggested by Sabine and so had Buffy, so we all trudged across town, booked in and then relaxed for the day. I got all my laundry dine as there was a washing machine in the room itself (It was more like an apartment than a room!) and in the evening I shared a big pizza with Buffy while having a few beers and introducing her to Blackadder and Top Gear.
On Saturday, I went to pick up the 'Spaceships', camper van that I had booked for a trip back to the Bay of Islands with Andrea and Lisa who are due back in Auckland today. Buffy came along and we had a nice afternoon driving around, south of Auckland, checking out a couple of camp-sites and trying out the equipment in the camper van. The van has one double bed inside and one on the roof too, in a wind-up roofbox. Its well designed and surprisingly, really comfortable. I dropped Buffy off at her friends house on the outskirts of Auckland and then went back to Nomads in town, to meet Lisa and Andrea.
It was really good to see them again as they got off their 'Stray Bus', and after loading the van and getting in some shopping, we headed back up North. We swapped stories about our separate trips around New Zealand and discovered we had both done a lot of the same things and had all had a great time. They had slept in Hostels though, where we had camped out, but apart from that we had had similar experiences.
We found a Department of Conservation camp-site at a place called 'Uretiti', which is actually the very place where the Flying Kiwi bus had stopped for lunch3 days ago and we had gone boogie boarding. After showing the girls how to set up the van, we grabbed a beer and walked the 100 metres to the beach. It was a lovely warm evening, with a bright moon and so we sat around chatting for a while before the two girls went to bed in the van and I slept in the roof box.
I slept really well and woke up after 8am to a lovely warm day, albeit with a few clouds. The girls slept in beyond 9am and eventually after a shower, a bit of breakfast (no cereal cos the milk had gone off a few days ago!) we eventually packed up and left by 11.30ish and headed north towards 90 mile beach!!