Upon arrival to Whangarei from Auckland, I just quickly visited some notable places here and found an accommodation in order to get some rest, shower and do my laundry.
Whangarei town basin
Whangarei Heads - a waterfront park with few nice small hills and hidden beaches. I did my first NZ 'trek' here (around 1 hr)
Whangarei falls - the campsite I was staying in was located just next to them
During my second day in Whangarei it started to rain pretty heavily, so I decided to try to get the car lock repaired. I managed to find the repair shop that would do it still that day, which meant that I was forced to spend almost 8 hours in heavy rain in a town where was not much to do... Now I know Whangarei town centre almost better than Trnava ;) Anyway, the lock is repaired and the car is fully lockable now, which is really good. But I paid 10% of the price of the car for that repair! (basically for being an idiot and not checking everything properly when buying).
After arrival back to the campsite I got a new roommate - Lola - a crazy German girl coming from her 2 year stay in Australia with only her beach clothes (it was around 15 degrees that day :)). After a short conversation and finding out that Lola has no particular plans yet, we agreed to continue up North together. So I have a nice and funny company for the trip for some time now ;)
The next day the weather got a bit better (although not perfect at all), so we decided to pack our stuff and hit the road. The plan was to get to the Bay of islands with several stops. My planning got a bit more spontaneous after Lola joined me, as her approach to traveling is something like: "I don't know where I am, where I'm heading or where I want to stop". But we managed to reach the Bay of islands (not a big deal at all - it was just around 80 kms from Whangarei) even with stops on several beaches on the way:
After-lunch break at Ngunguru beach
On the next day in Paihia we got lucky to get a clear sunny day, so we decided just to have a short walk around the small town and spend the rest of the day on the beach... (and get a decent sun-burn). Paihia is a small waterfront town full of restaurants, bars and accommodation, although it is still half empty at this time as the summer season is just about to begin..
Aussie beer with German girl on NZ beach
Lola and Francois (French guy I met in Whangarei and again in Paihia)
Francois getting rid of the spare energy by doing front flips on the beach
After leaving Paihia further North, we had several nice stops and ended up the day in a nice old fisherman town - Mangonui (the best thing about Mangonui was that there were no other backpackers except us there - btw. 90% of backpackers I met until now in NZ are young guys (18-19 years old) from Germany doing a trip or working holiday after the high-school. So sometimes it feels like Oktoberfest in the backpackers places).
Kerikeri - town where we just stopped to get some supplies for the trip and sort out stuff like IRD (tax) numbers, Lola's NZ phone and bank accounts.. At the end there appeared to be a nice old part of the town with old houses and a quiet park and little gulf.
Matauri bay - a nice black beach hidden behind steep hills (I'm quite sure that the brakes of my car will remember this road for a long time)
Tauranga bay - lonely planet says there is "peachy pink" sand, so we had to go and see that. But we were slightly disappointed after seeing quite a regular beach with regular sand
Mangonui - old boat ramp