The dawn at Mangonui slowly revealed beauty in quietness as herons fluttered from their overnight roost and a kingfisher perched on a post in front of the hotel.
Coffee at the Waterfront Cafe was acompanied by visits from sparrows and a red-billed gull, hoping for crumbs. The gull wandered casually across the road, inching out of the way of passing cars without a care for safety.
We continued north to the Karikari peninsular, eventually driving off the tarmac to a deserted beach lining beautiful Matai Bay. A beachcomber's dream, we discovered shells we had never seen before, pumice and wonderful driftwood.
We walked, seeing gannets diving into the waves and, later, a pair of black swans. Then it was on to Ahipara, where we had rented a bach, a cottage overlooking the southern end of the Ninety Mile Beach. 'Surfview' did indeed live up to its name....