Whangarei may not be just a mere pitstop for most people – it makes a good landing point to explore the nearby attractions – but for us it was a stopover point before driving further up North from Raglan, and then again when making our way back down to Auckland.
But the place will have a special place in my heart, and it’s all because of the Airbnb we stayed in. Naomi and Brent were simply the best hosts, and we spent a lot of our time chatting with them in their cosy house – from hearing about their travel plans to looking at photos taken by Brent at weddings and family gatherings.
It’s one of those Airbnb gems where you get so much more than just a night’s stay. Even memories of them offering us grapes from their neighbour’s which I call life-changing, and their amused looks at my amazement at how sweet they were, still brings back a smile to my face.
We arrived on a Wednesday on our first night, and they recommended for us to head to Rynoz where they had a one-for-one stone grill for that night. To ensure we had seats despite no reservations, we reached the restaurant at 6pm. The place filled up real quick and we saw them turning away walk-ins. Phew!
We headed off the next morning after a restful sleep, and continued up North. But not before making a stop at Kawakawa to visit the Hundertwasser Toilet. Not your usual conventional attraction, but the public toilet was designed by a Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and is now the most photographed toilet in New Zealand.
After the pee stop (hehe), we continued on to Paihia which is more of a place to explore the Bay of Islands, so the town itself didn’t really have much to do for us. We wandered around the city centre aimlessly and eventually settled down at the esplanade area to have our snack – Cookie Time! – and enjoy the afternoon sun.
Right.. I guess I kind of conflicted myself there, we didn’t explore Whangarei in its entirety, but it was Naomi and Brent’s hospitality which made it more than just a pitstop – it felt like a home away from home.