Darin turned 38 on Jan 5, and Barb, Eric, and I took him out for really good sushi, at Blowfish (sushi to die for). The restaurant has anime playing on big tvs, no sound, but a very cool interior and vibe. The sushi is YUM. As a birthday gift/entertainment, I arranged for him to go tuna fishing out of the Bay of Islands, a gorgeous coastal destination up north about 3.5 hours drive from Auckland. BIL Eric joined him in fishing, and I went along for the ride. Since we wouldn't arrive until evening of Sat, I booked us into a backpackers/hostel. This was a first for all of us. We each had a bed in one of two attached rooms, which had two bunkbeds in each room. The Pipi Patch was full of attractive young people, but there were a few oldsters. After checking in, there was still enough light for us to walk on the beach. There we found about 10-15 sand castles, some were really well done, with stick, leaf, seaweed, shell, and rock embelishments. We guessed there had been a competition. We checked out the town and ate gelato as we checked out the town of Paihia. As we had an early start in the morning, we had a couple shots at the bar before bed. The accomodations were adequate, and the price is great ($25 pp), but it's not my top choice.
In the morning, we got on the boat, Major Tom II. I forgot to ask what happened to the first Major Tom. Anyway, it was a nice boat, and we had a lovely day cruising around, watching the dolphins, eating, and napping. Though there were 8 poles out trolling for predatory fish the whole day, Darin and Eric caught 1 skipjack each. They are beautiful to look at, but not good to eat. Fortunately, we have a dog and two cats happy to eat them. Apparently, the water wasn't warm enough yet to bring tuna to the area. December was, after all, one of the coldest on record. So, they'll have to go back, darn it all.
What a beautiful place, it reminded me of Avalon on Catalina Island (California).