By: Blonde Two

You know how as you travel North in the UK, the landscape, the colour of the buildings, the number of lorries on the motorway and the weather all seem to change and become just that bit more, “Northy”?  Well in New Zealand, if you travel North (and little cousin and I did check with the compass that we were) the opposite things happen and it all becomes a bit more, “Southy”.

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Despite this being my sixth visit to New Zealand (the first visit was for a year), I have never made the trip North of Auckland before.  I have realised now that this was a mistake.  This weekend I was invited on a nostalgia and house viewing trip with my cousin and her family.  We travelled up to Kerikeri (Kerry Kerry) in the Bay of Islands.  I find it almost impossible to describe the Bay of Islands – it is kind of “what it says on the tin” – a huge bay with lots of steep sided islands and salt water inlets filled with mangroves.

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In 2006 a study found the Bay of Islands to have the second bluest sky in the world (after Rio Janeiro which I don’t think would be as nice).  If you imagine somewhere that has sub-tropical plants, an awful lot of sunshine, citrus orchards, oyster beds, dolphins, whales and lots of boats – kind of paradise in fact, then you have probably just imagined Kerikeri and its surroundings.

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In a land where even the landscape isn’t very old, the Kiwi’s are justifiably proud of anything that is vaguely ancient.  The Bay of Islands was first visited by Captain Cook in 1769 (in New Zealand time, that is a long time ago) and was the first part of New Zealand that European settlers called home (good choice I say!)  Kerikeri boasts three of New Zealand’s “oldests”.  Below you can see the “Stone Store”, the oldest stone building in New Zealand (there aren’t that many things made of stone here) built in 1833 and the “Mission House”, the oldest surviving wooden structure built in 1822.  If you look closely, you can also see the oldest fruit tree (a still fruiting pear planted in 1819) which looked in pretty good condition to me.  Interesting that the chap chose to plant a tree before building his house – I wonder what his wife had to say about that!  What you won’t see in this picture is the bridge, now gone, that was supposed to be part of our nostalgia trip – we drove down the road but thankfully stopped before attempting an unplanned fording of the Kerikeri river.

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I really fell in love with Kerikeri and with the Bay of Islands – it is definitely worth the four hour drive up there.  Visiting possible cousin new homes was good fun too and allowed for some stunning view admiring and garden exploration.  Maybe it was joining in with a trip down memory lane that made it feel so homely or maybe it was the fact that there were dry stone walls (volcanic not granite but a little bit Dartmoory)!