The last thing the locals are prepared for in Paihia, the sub-tropical capital of the Bay Of Islands, is rain. There’s absolutely bugger-all to do here that doesn’t depend on sun and lots of it. So when we arrived on Saturday to be greeted by monsoon-like rains and winds it put an obvious dampener (arf) on things. Amy, Sue, Helen (who’d come up for her last few days in New Zealand) and I decided to press on regardless with our plan for a Bay cruise up to “The Hole in the Rock” despite the crew’s exceptional but sensible offer of a refund. Our resoluteness proved to be especially fool-hardy given Hel’s and Amy’s sea-sickness and the fact that you couldn’t see anything past the dense rain. Will put some photos up soon but trust me, Amy was decidedly green. Sue and I, however, took a perverse pleasure in battling the elements, taking photos in the downpour and holding on for dear life as the catamerang pitched and rolled. In an attempt to look learned, I’ll claim it was like the opening act from The Tempest with Prospero’s full anger unleashed on us. Basically, it rained like buggery.

Yesterday was officially the Worse Day Since We Left England as the rain got heavier, there was a power cut, nothing was open and the hostel bar inexplicably and idiotically shut. The hostel-full of bored backpackers decided to ignore the alcohol room ban and got slaughtered, dive-bombing into the swimming pool and generally hooning about like the listless fools they/we are. Sue and I managed to play more than thirty games of rummy and drunk a comparably large amount of wine. Let there never be another day like it.

Fortunately, the sun came out today and Sue and I could return to our favourite passtime of drinking in the sunshine by the beach. Sadly, Helen returned last night to fly out to Australia. Have fun Welsh Bird - we’ll miss you lots and lots! Swimming with dolphins is booked for tomorrow and then a trip up to the toppermost (must be a word) tip of the country - Cape Reinga - on Thursday to surf down sand dunes and gasp as the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. Just hope the nice weather gods love us.