Wednesday, 15 July 2015


The camping part of the adventure begins. We picked up the motor home, aka camper van - I don't know the difference but this is VERY swish.  More about that later.

Manoeuvring out of Auckland under the direction of Mrs TomTom was interesting. I'm sure she took us through suburbs she thought we ought to see, rather than the most direct route. Was pleased to recognize a couple of the extinct volcanoes which dot the city - we have now climbed up three of them, racking up the numbers. Was even more pleased to see open road and fewer traffic lights. Auckland - biggest city in New Zealand at around 1.5 million - is open and pleasant as cities go, but we don't go for cities.

More of an adventure was trying to find the EXACT location of where we were to meet Cat and Andy, driving separately in her car. Much to his surprise, Her Father had pronounced it more than roadworthy - all the odd sounds and grunts from the chassis were apparently just the grumblings of an old man, rather than anything needing a serious visit to the doctor. 

Still, we all managed it. Met up at an incredibly blustery Mangawhai Heads, amazing sandy dunes on the edge of the river mouth and a hooley blowing so hard we had to think about how we opened vehicle doors.  After lunch (in said motor home, all mod cons, more of that later) we set off again, to our beach camp destination: Whananaki North and Otamure Beach. Sooo beautiful.

Cat put her hammock up under a pohutukawa tree (New Zealand's 'Christmas' tree, which flowers bright red in December and January), but abandoned the idea of sleeping in it: not because it is technically winter, but because it was too windy. Going to sleep with the sound of wind and surf must be one of life's great pleasures.

The beach - as so many parts of NZ's coastline - reminded me of Robinson Crusoe and other sea adventure stories....

Then, off again North.  (The Far North really IS the actual name of the northernmost district of NZ, and Andy's home territory. Lots to see and places to visit and revisit.) We aimed for the historic town of Kerikeri, hoping to wander round and visit the Stone Store (oldest stone building in the country) and other sites, but a torrential deluge washed that idea away. A quick consultation, and we were off again, driving through the rain to the clear skies of Cable Bay, neighbour to our favourite fishing village of Mangonui.  (Reference here.)

The deluge was still escaping down the beach, adding to the little streamlet, helping create a standing wave and washing down so forcefully that the sandy banks on either side were being broken away by the force of the water.  

I feel the need for a diagram looked something like this, but shallower and wider... if I could be bothered, there would be arrows and explanations, but I'll just have to use my imagination...
Another hour took us to our campsite: Matai Bay on the KariKari Peninsular, a DoC (NZ Department of Conservation) site which we'd dropped in on a couple of years previously, and determined to revisit. Andy, of course, had stories to tell of school camps here...growing up in an enterprising teacher household. Parents who'd started a school. An education which sounded real, not under the duress of a stressy exam-led curriculum.

And it is BEAUTIFUL. A little sandy cove surrounded by trees...a handful of other campers on a huge site. (We won't talk about the campervan getting stuck in soggy wet grass after the rain, or the impression that Girl Power had managed to push it out...we realised that rugby (national quality) playing Andy had PROBABLY done all the work by pushing at the side....)
Found at Cable Bay

Matai Bay

Cat and Andy, in a hammock made for two...

Blowing in the wind



...and a rope swing

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