After grabbing our bags and clearing customs, we picked up our rental car and off we went! I felt bad for Mark; he didn't sleep as much as I did on the flight and he was the only one named on the rental car, which meant he got to do all the driving. On the left side of the road. The first few minutes were, um, fun, but he got the hang of it pretty quick and the traffic died down as we left the city.
Since we arrived at 5:30am, we had quite a bit of time before we had to be three hours north in Paihia to check into the homestay we'd booked for the first two nights. We made good use of the time by checking out every beach we came across! It was nice to get out and stretch our legs a bit, too, after such a long flight.
Marsden Point, at the northern end of Bream Bay. It was right next to an oil refinery; to get to the beach you had to almost drive into the complex itself.
We eventually made our way north to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. We grabbed lunch at a bakery (the first of many), then decided to hop on the ferry to Russell. After a quick drive through the small town (which our Lonely Planet guidebook needlessly crapped all over), we decided to head further north to see what was there...