We accelerated through the windy hills of Northland, heading to its only city, Whangarei. Mr Miyagi was performing well but we were still being overtaken by pretty much everything from cars, lorries, cars with trailers and tractors.
‘You drive like a Grandad.’ said Laura.
‘No,’ I said with my hands firmly gripping the 10–2 position. ‘I just drive cautiously.’
‘I’ll show her,’ I thought, as I rocketed past a caravan hitting almost 55mph!!

After dark, we finally arrived in Whangarei . We checked into our hostel and inspected our double room. Now, in New Zealand, it’s not as cold but when all of the buildings are made out of wooden panels with zero insulation, it
feels like you’re constantly outside. We turned on the heater and headed into town.

Frings with its craft beers

Our main objective was food but warmth was high on our list too. Thankfully, we found a bar called Frings with live music, beer that was brewed on site and stonebaked pizzas. Laura immediately found her pizza of choice, The Works. It had her two favourite toppings, pineapple
and anchovies. I’m one of those firm believers that fruit doesn’t belong on pizza. You wouldn’t slice up a peach and plop it on as a topping, so why has pineapple made it through? But regardless of the pineapple issue, the combination of anchovies with pineapple. Just because you like two foods, it doesn’t mean they should be thrust together in some kind of unholy mishmash.

Laura enjoying her unnatural pizza

You wouldn’t put chocolate on your bacon or eggs on your cereal. However, when the pizza came, there was enough other toppings to conceal the fishy fruit combination. As we ate our pizza, I enjoyed the brew made on site. I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed to try a few of their stouts and their seasonal ales.

The lion

Back at the hostel, we adopted a giant ginger fluff-ball lion of a cat. I would have let him sleep in the room but he had a collar and every time he moved or scratched, a tiny bell jingled around the room. Instead we chucked 3 duvets on the bed and drifted off to sleep.

This time I managed to sleep until and impressive 3:30am before getting up. I took my laptop with me and this is how I’ve found time to write two blogs for you already. I sat in the wooden hut of a lounge area, barely able to type because of the freezing temperatures, until Laura woke at the rather unsociable hour of 8am.

Our first stop of the day was Whangarei Falls. A beautiful 20m waterfall just around the corner. We’d seen it before but we were pleased to be back. There was a sense of contentment as we trudged through the thick air of the rain forest to the bottom of the falls and breathed in the majesty of the waterfall.

Whangarei Falls

We didn’t spend too long there though as we had planned to go and visit Ave, our old landlady and adopted Grandmother in a retirement village just around the corner. It was great to catch up as we regaled tales of the past and talked about how the area’s changed.

We then had a good look around town and realised that were getting old as we found a discounted homeware shop and got very excited about sandwich toasters, matching crockery and non-stick frying pans that hopefully we can buy at some stage in our lives.

Finally we set off on our final leg of the day towards Paihia in the Bay of Islands with a mixed feeling of anticipation and anxiety. Excited about what lies ahead but nervous and hopeful that everything will work out.