The Poor Knights islands are part of a marine reserve near Whangarei, pictured above in the far off distance. Jacques Cousteau named them one of the top ten dive sites in the world and they were recently listed as one of the top ten places to see nature. I've wanted to go for ages, so I thought I should make it a priority before leaving New Zealand.
I stayed with lovely Bob and Cyn, two Californians who have lived just outside Whangarei for a few years, after sailing from San Francisco to Auckland. They now make their own sail boats and partake in cycling races in the North Island, although both activities are currently impossible given to Cyn's knee operation and Bob's broken femur (from a cycling accident).
They live in a beautiful semi-rural 19th century home down a gorgeous drive and I was their first couch surfer.
I asked them if they didn't find it testing to share such a small space (a boat) for so long, and they both laughed.
Bob said: "Well, Cyn is pretty great company actually"
And Cyn looked over from the kitchen and said "My idea of heaven is to be with Bob all the time. So ... "
As to the dive trip, OH MY GAWD. As we were taking the boat out we found ourselves in the middle of a huge pod of pilot whales - seriously at least twenty of them - who were often only metres away, surfacing regularly and traveling with their new babies. I was quite delirious and asked the skipper:
"How often does something like this happen?"
"Oh, maybe two, three times a year. This is the kind of thing you have to work on a boat for a year to see."
Me: "Or just come once, on the right day!" (Brat...)
p.s. If you're ever going to Whangarei I really recommend seeing if Cyn and Bob are around. They told me to come back with friends. Heart !