We love the Swallows Nest. It is called this way because "swallows" is the name the Kiwis give to people who spend the Northern Hemisphere summer up north and then come to New Zealand to enjoy a second summer. And yes, the owners enjoy the house in such a way.
Perched just up the hill, the Swallows Nest house is situated beautifully. Recently the house was improved with an extensive decking up the garden to make the best of the fabulous panoramic views of a Northland sweet spot: Tapuaetahi Beach and the sea to the Cavalli Islands. The house perfectly fits a small family. It has two bedrooms and a big living space with extensive kitchen. It’s not a luxurious house, but all the stuff you need is here and we even find a complimentary bottle of wine in the fridge. Great little details that make you feel at home. The beds are very comfortable and the shower has a good power. And with a family it is always nice when you find a washing machine around; no need for a dryer, the sun works just fine.
Before arriving at the house, our holiday starts with an amazing cruise around the Bay of Islands. Fullers GreatSights offers the most extensive range of these cruises to see attractions like the famous Hole in the Rock, beautiful islands and the Cape Brett Peninsula, as well as dolphins, whales and other marine life. It’s a sunny day, so we hope to see dolphins and depart from the nice but busy town of Paihia. And we are not disappointed at all; we encounter a group of dolphins who really seem to have a great time showing off their tricks and follow us through the water. A baby dolphin is part of the group and the law in New Zealand is very strict on this: we can’t swim with them. We totally understand as it would be a shame to disturb this family and young sea life.
The skipper tells us he saw orcas (also called killer whales since they are seen hunting whales) the same morning. Normally they should be far away already, but he decides to find out if they are still around. And lucky enough: we spot them distinctively with their black back, white chest and sides and a white patch above and behind the eye. Spotting them when they are around is not so hard, since they, like all mammals, require air to breathe and must come to the surface of the water to take in oxygen through their blowholes. Wow, what an impressive experience to see those immense creatures swimming along with our boat. Killer whales are the largest extant members of the dolphin family and can be become 9.75-meter-long.
You might pass the Hole in the Rock located on Piercy Island / Motukōkako. It has been created over centuries by the wind and waves eroding away at the island to form a hole through it. The island is one of New Zealand’s most naturally beautiful sites and is pest free which allows native flora and fauna to thrive. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space... and if you get dripped on, consider yourself lucky!
Back to our holiday house: just a short drive from Paihia, there’s a little village called Te Tii. Tucked away on the shores of a private white sand gem, we enter the place with a secret code at the gate to prevent unwanted visitors and crowds at the beautiful beach. This makes it a quiet area with only a few houses and the beach is a just steps away.
Although we stay at high season, we are almost having the beach for ourselves. Tapuaetahi is a protected and safe bay, with two tidal lagoons. The beach is great for launching boats of varying sizes, and safe for kayak outings around the immediate coast. And it is clean and safe, just as the surroundings. We find perfect little waves here for the girls getting more familiar with the body boards.
Nature all around: on our very first visit we see a stinger ray and one of the residents tells us he lives in this bay and appears every day. We are delighted to see this. Also, we see people collecting oysters for diner and the ebb and flow of the inland lagoon offers an awesome place for the kids to play in.
The Northern land offers more amazing things to do. If anyone in your family ever fancied being a flying trapeze artist, visit the Action World Paihia. This place claims to be the only place in the world where you can do it without a safety harness, but still in perfect safety. Two former World Champions on the Flying Trapeze have developed an airbag landing system that allows for all manner of exciting activities. Soon we find out you don’t have to be so ambitious to enjoy this place; both our girls spend hours exhausting themselves. How about trying the climbing wall, the extreme slide, the crazy ladder (which is crazy) and waterslide (don’t forget to take the swim outfits). Or try the trapeze; people say that to swing the high trapeze is as exciting as a bungy jump. Our oldest daughter even tried the high wire and Tarzan swings… still need to practice on those, but she tried anyway. Later on, we challenge each other on the joisting bridge with a weapon in hand. Fun for all!
# We highly recommend this lovely holiday house, with all the things you need for a little family.
# The beach is secluded and you will love being in nature all the time. Off the beaten track!
# A perfect place to visit some amazing attractions in the Northland, returning home at a quiet and relaxed place. Don’t miss the dolphin watching at the Bay of Islands.