Our morning was spent cycling, visiting Karikari beach where, two years ago, we found horse mussel shells and more unusual pieces of driftwood than we had ever seen. Fun to be cycling, seeing the birds, dogs out hunting and NO CARS.
At the campsite, our nearest neighbour had a converted bus, complete with wood-burning range in which he baked bread. He worked for six months of the year picking fruit, then spent the other six months travelling around, fishing. Tales of snapper a metre long and more fish than I had ever heard of. He described the family of dolphins he had seen two days previously, watching them swim and play in a small cove nearby.
From the Karikari peninsular, it is less than an hour to Ahipara.
We came to Ahipara as tourists two years ago; this time, we return with Andy, to his home town. His family home is perched high on a hill, overlooking the Tasman Sea. The beach below stretches for miles.
We take the pickup to the reef. I'm expecting to go down to the beach and then walk along a little. Instead, we drive onto the beach, along the sand to the end and then negotiate our way - still in the pick up - over the reef at the base of the cliff.
Yes, it IS low tide.
We drive along the reef, watching surfers catch incredible waves as we go, until we come to another stretch of beach. We go on for miles, past deserted baches (Kiwi beach cottages) and don't stop until the sand becomes so soft that we get stuck. It seems we do NOT have four wheel drive. A little digging out of sand from underneath the tyres, reversing onto rock and we are out.
|A bus to nowhere?|
Stopping at the sand dunes, we play frisbee and climb up the side of the dune - probably only a little over three hundred feet high (only getting half way) and skid back down. Cat still has energy to run home - a mere 9km - and Andy surfs a little, while we stroll back along the beach.
And what else? A seal family sunning themselves on the rocks, almost within touching distance; lads on motorbikes skidding up and down the dune; and a greeting from every person we passed - a wave or a word of hello. So friendly.
Awesome Ahipara. As the sun goes down, the sweep of the bay is lit up by its setting rays and we gaze northwards to Ninety Mile Beach. Miles and miles and miles of flat, golden sand.
|In the back of the pickup|
|A good push gets us out of the soft sand before the tide comes in...|
|No, 4W drive isn't working|
|Looking back towards Ahipara|
|Seal pup in the centre...|