A big birthday in the Bay of Islands

We spent a few days in the Bay of Islands in March to celebrate a big birthday for Hayden! (He turned 40. This isn’t a secret, I don’t know why I’m being circumspect!). We actually booked this trip last year – we were up in the Bay of Islands in November for me to run the Kerikeri Half Marathon, and the place we were staying in, in Opua, was so magical that Hayden pulled out his phone right then and there to book it for his birthday weekend.

We were so excited to return to this magical spot for Hayden’s birthday. A quiet weekend with his family is what he wanted, and it’s what he got – we were super-chilled and it was super-excellent. We headed out to Opua Cruising Club for dinner our first night, then caught the car ferry from Opua to Russell the next day, on Hayden’s actual birthday, and wandered the historic streets, popping in and out of little shops, before going to the Duke of Marlborough for lunch like the rascals we are (the Duke is also a hotel, which we have stayed at before and loved!). We were back home in time to go for a paddle board, then watch the Friday night Rum Race (a regular yachting race) from our balcony with a drink – absolute bliss.

On our last full day, we did a boat trip through the islands out to the Hole in the Rock. The weather was glorious – cold on the water to begin with, but so beautiful! After the Hole in the Rock, the boat moored at Urapukapuka Island (last seen here!) and we got some beach relaxation time in before returning to Paihia, where we had a delicious lunch at Zane Grey’s. I had the ika mata and it was fantastic – truly one of my favourite dishes, I almost always order it when I see it on a menu. In the afternoon, I went for a walk to explore the area and found a playground conveniently near to the Marina Cafe. The next morning, after one last paddle board session, we walked back as a family and had coffee and a play right by the water in the sunshine – the perfect way to wrap up our Bay of Islands break.

It was just a short trip but it was such a special time to celebrate a brilliant person. Here are a whole lot more photos if you want to see!

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