Bay of Islands
Ben, February 20, 2013
(Written by Pam)

We arrived in Aukland on Sunday evening and picked up our car. With my navigational help, Ben got us successfully to our hotel in the city center by driving on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car. We went to an awful, not cheap enough Italian place nearby for a quick dinner and crashed since we had yet another early wake up call on Monday.

The alarm went off at 5:15 am on Monday morning. I thought, \"omg this feels like when I wake up for 6 am CrossFit.\" Not a feeling I like having on vaca! It was for a good reason though; we were making the 3+ hour ride north to the small coastal town of Russell for a day of sailing around the Bay of Islands.

I was responsible for driving up. I am not quite the natural that Ben is with doing things the wrong way lol, so it took me the entire ride to get used to the NZ roads. They are narrow and Ben kept freaking out that I was going to drive us off of one of the cliffs. I think he was overreacting, but every time I accidentally turned on the windshield wipers when trying to signal did not help my case. We eventually made it although I think Ben lost a couple years of his life to my driving.

We boarded the sail boat called "Kingfisher" along with three parental-aged couples from the UK, a young French guy, and our skipper, Stephen. We set sail out of Russell towards the bay where several little, uninhibited islands awaited our arrival. On our way out, we had much needed coffee and muffins and met the others on board. Pam from the UK was the main person we talked with - not only did she share my name but she had a daughter who worked in consulting and was leaving in September to return to school (such a small world!!). Two of the couples were traveling together and we found out they too hiked Kilimanjaro a couple years back (we really need to mark that off our bucket list soon).

The day was sunny and very warm. After a couple hours of sailing, we arrived at our destination - a beautiful, sandy beach on an island called Waewaetorea. The boat was anchored offshore. Ben and I decided to swim the 100 meters to the beach. The water was cold but refreshing and so wonderful compared to the cold back in Chicago. We swam ashore and then hiked the island's small hill to get some beautiful photos. After an hour or so on the island, we swam back to the boat for lunch. It was so sunny and relaxing - just what a honeymoon needs :)

Once we finished eating, we looped the islands and started the two hour trip back to port. On the way back, the sails caught the wind in such a way that the boat felt like it was at a 90 degree angle several times. That is probably an exaggeration, but I seriously was worried about tipping over a couple times! Needless to say we made it just fine! It turned it to be a beautiful day and the first time Ben had ever sailed. Over dinner back in Auckland, we both agreed it was worth the early wake up call!!!
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