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Big World; Small Adventures
1st Mar 2006 - 7th Mar 2006
Goodbye Bay

The past week or so has been idyllic. After the sailing trip I spent Weds exploring the bays around the area, including a small Maori town called Rawhiti and a beautiful walk up to Whangamumu Nature Reserve. It wasn't a hard walk but it was rugid and cleansing for the soul. Just over an hour trekking across meadow and up and down hill thro the bush, I rounded the last corner and the track twisted back up again so I could finally see blue sky peaking thro the tree canopy. As I rounded the brough of the hill the trees parted to reveal a lush green meadow rolling down to golden sand and turquoise waters. Gnarly pohutakawa trees lined the beach, their spiny roots reaching thro the sand like craggy fingers and three yachts were moored just off shore. The scene was certainly worth the exertion.

I also took a drive up north thro Kerikeri - home to fruit orchards and fresh produce - through Doubtless Bay and up to the Karikari Peninsular, staying on a rather wind swept Rangiputa Beach. I carried on round the coast, taking in pretty Matai twin bays and the long Tokerau Beach but sadly the visibility was too bad to really appreciate 90 mile (63 actually!) so I just took a look at Ahipara which is the base of it. It was still impressive to see such a long beach even if I couldn't seem half of it and despite the poor weather, there were still some hardy Kiwis fishing in the surf. On thro quiet Herekino and then to quaint Kohukohu with its rickety old house belonging to the 'bird man' and the wrecked old American truck on the old wharf that had been sinking slowly into the water over the past 20 yrs. I found the most delectable mochachino in the waterfront cafe made by pouring steaming milk over real ground chocolate - yum! I also stumbled across a photographic exhibition by a local artist Marg something who also had an exhibition of pin hole pictures on the other side of the ferry crossing at Rawene. I travelled back from west to east, looping back to Kerikeri and stayed in beautiful Pagoda Lodge with its strong indochine influence evident in the spired building roofs and also the authentic Chinese furniture. My room was both beautiful and homely - I truly recommend this for anyone staying in the area and looking for something seriously more up market than a dorm. A lovely Japanese Bento meal at the local restaurant really finished off a perfect couple of days.

In the morning I took a stroll thro a woodland path down to NZ's oldest stone and timber buildings, remnants of the first settlers in NZ back in early 19th century. After a breakfast of fresh oranges on the veranda of my cottage (boy I'm eating well out here) I hit the road again to see Hundertwasser's famous tiled toilets at Kawakawa and finish off with a siesta and swim at the beach at Paihia.

I've now said goodbye to the Bay of Islands with more than a tear I can tell you. I had a truly amazing time up there and look forward to seeing it again soon. After a trip out west again to see the great Kauri trees along Kauri coast I'm now staying with Yvonne, Lou's friend, in Whangarei and I've just had the most divine experience. More sensuous than being fanned by a gorgeous man and more delectable than even eating a Galaxy chocolate bar while wearing silk pyjamas. That;s right, a steamy HOT BATH. Now you may think that's something you could have any time you choose but this wasn't just any old hot bath, oh no. To enjoy a truly dreamy Kiwi bath you first need to get up really early, preferably after being woken even earlier by a text msg (thanks Jo!). Then you must drive miles, board a boat and set off in choppy waters. Just when the nausea has taken hold you don a damp wet suit and plunge yourself into freezing water to swim against currents and dive in search of exotic flora and fauna. Repeat with a luke warm cup of chicken cup a soup and then return on even choppier waters and drive back home in torrential rain before your eyes snap shut. Now run a hot bath with some sweet smelling bath oil, light some candles and immerse your aching shell of a body into the steamy water. Lie back and flick thro the images in your weary mind of brightly coloured snapper, kingfish and the eternally graceful sting ray basking on the sand. Oh yes.

Next: Journey down South
Previous: The Big Cat


Diary Photos

Flowers

Whangamumu Scenic Reserve

Kiwi public transport

Stone Store in Kerikeri - the oldest building in NZ

Arty Tree Bark Detail 1

Arty Tree Bark Detail 1

Arty Tree Bark 3

Bush Walk in Whangarei Heads

Ocean Beach - Whangarei Heads

Kauri Forest

Me diving (actually I'm trying not tobe sick on the boat!)


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