These are the things I can’t live without, as a resident in the Bay of Islands! I’d highly recommend you bring these 3 items on holiday with you (or be prepared to buy them here in the Bay of Islands):
1. Wet weather jacket
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it rains a lot in the Bay of Islands, all year round.
I remember on my first visit, I was even in tears because the weather in late summer was so awful. It was grey, drizzly and rainy for the entire 5 days I had in the Bay of Islands.
Sure, I still did trips and excursions, but being the shutterbug that I am, it meant that I couldn’t take the blue-sky photos I’d been hoping to. (It’s those darn blue-sky photos in all the travel brochures and websites that had led me to believe the weather was always idyllic… grrrr, wrong!)
So don’t have false expectations like I did, and come prepared for the weather. And as my Irish friend, Brian, says: “There’s no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing.”
Therefore I’d highly recommend that you bring (or buy) a rain jacket – not just for the rain, but it will also keep the wind off you. (Yes, it gets windy often here, too. The joy of being on a narrow strip of land in the sub-tropics, exposed to the weather systems of the South Pacific.)
If you’re wondering what to wear on your bottom half on a rainy day, I’d suggest you dress kiwi-style, with shorts and jandals (flip flops), especially in summer. Skin dries off a lot quicker than fabric does. ☺
When you’re all prepared for the weather, you can make the most of your trips and excursions in the Bay of Islands.
And as for the photos, at least these days you have apps to enhance them. Or else, just get creative with your photography and embrace the moody hues and tones.
2. Bug repellent
Another fact of life in the sub-tropics is the wildlife, of the insect variety. There are plenty of mosquitoes around, especially on summer evenings and nights.
But there’s a bug with a far worse bite than a mosquito: sandflies.
The name is very misleading, because sandflies don’t just live in sand: the little blighters also live in grass, soil, and a variety of other surfaces.
What makes sandfly bites so annoying is that they keep itching for about a week afterwards.
So I’d highly recommend that you douse your limbs in bug repellent – as unpleasant as it is to use, the bites are even more annoying.
3. Be prepared for the sun
We don’t just have rain and bugs in the Bay of Islands – we also have sunshine! And it is bright bright bright!
On my first trip to NZ, I didn’t bring sunscreen with me (there wasn’t any room in my backpack), so I went to the local pharmacy to buy some. I remember scouring the shelves for my favourite SPF16 – and failed to find any. The lowest factor sunscreen I could find was SPF30… what the…?! I figured that seeing as SPF16 served me just fine in Thailand and Bali and other hot sunny places, surely that would be just dandy for New Zealand, and I kept hunting for it.
I must have been in about the fifth pharmacy till I eventually found a lone bottle of SPF16… and after the first time of using it, I realise why it’s not popular: I was burnt to a painful red crisp. I tossed the bottle and went and bought SPF30 quickety quick, and still love the SPF30 today.
You see, the hole in the ozone layer is right above New Zealand and Australia – and boy can you feel the intensity of the sun in this part of the world. Good sunscreen is a must.
Another must-have item is a good pair of sunglasses – and you’ll need your sunnies in winter, as well as summer. The light is so bright and intense, even on a grey day, that there is usually a lot of glare.
So yeah, bring your sunnies and SPF30 sunscreen. And here’s hoping you’ll get a lot more use out of those than out of your rain jacket!