An early morning cycle ride along the edge of the estuary was a joy. We thought we’d come to an ordinary little seaside resort: and, on one level, we had. We cycled past holiday homes, empty for the winter, although our little camping spot at the end of the spit began to fill up rapidly with motorhomes, coming in for the weekend.
But it was the birds which delighted: every tree had a tui singing its heart out. My mild obsession with variable oystercatchers is nothing compared to my need to stop and listen to every tui I hear, searching for it among the thick foliage. The song – trills, chatters, bells, whistles and croaks – is just a delight. Among the seedling mangroves at the water’s edge we would see a handful of kingfishers together; white-faced herons stately in the water; and a pied shag, a ‘locally common native’. Lovely.
A slow and leisurely drive then, to Tauranga. (Toe-wronger!). Every trip in this camper van is slow and leisurely – there is no other way of driving it. At least, not one that wouldn’t have me screaming and grabbing on for safety. No cowboy driving here.
Toured Tauranga a little, looking for our meeting place with Cat for tomorrow. Wedding dress shopping! An appointment at a bridal boutique, but we’ll see...Then a large campsite at Mount Maunganui. Electricity and more neighbours than we are used to, but still a wonderful view of the sea – the Bay of Plenty.
Straight out of the van and on our way up the Mount. A mere 285 metres, climbing up via steps and a somewhat circular 4WD track. I was VERY grateful that I have been doing more and more walking. No problem with the knee!! Thank you God! Thank you walking poles! Thank you walking practice!
And amazing views from the top...
Back down, there was nothing else to do but visit the Hot Pools next door to the campsite. (We even got a discount for being campsite members...) Steaming hot salt water open-air baths – powerful jets massaging aching muscles, a relaxed clientele of families and people (men AND women) with more tattoos than we have ever seen in one place: we don’t get out much. Wonderful.