Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Climbing the Volcano, and Eastward Bound

To our readers:  I added photos to the previous post, so you may want to re-check that and see the photos that went with the blog.

Nov. 20, 2012

I decided to brave the Mercy B, and try driving again – especially since we were on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere.  We headed out in a light rain, and found the road heading to the upper car park for the Puheke Reserve, where we had spent the night.  I figured, why not, and we drove up and parked. 

 Beautiful views of our beach, and several hidden beaches beyond several rocky headlands.  And, despite the wind and continuing light rain, I decided I’d try to hike up the volcano – because there was the path, heading up this cute little volcano.  How often do we get to do that?  (Okay, we drove up an active volcano in Costa Rica – so climbing an extinct baby volcano in New Zealand just seemed perfectly natural.) 

It wasn’t much of a trail, more like a dented path in the long grass.  It was cold and windy.  It was getting rainier by the minute.  And there were more and more cow pies – which led me to wonder if I would encounter an irate mama cow, or a territorial bull.  I climbed a bit more, and looked at the views.  I huffed and puffed my way up a bit higher still – and then it struck me, I was cold and shivering.  What was I trying to prove?  Yes, it would be cool to climb to the top of Puheke.  But was it worth getting my one and only pair of jeans soaking wet?  Uh, no.  Was it worth watching my fingers turning blue?  Uh, no.  So I turned around and headed back to the caravan, and away we went. 

Despite the rain, there were pheasants wandering around (and crossing the road), and very cold-looking rabbits bouncing 
around.  I felt badly for the bunnies, some of them looked soaking wet.
We managed to get lost several times, more than our usual (which is usually only once per day) – first, on the Karikari Peninsula, we apparently made a wrong turn and ended up in the tiny town of Rangiputa, a dead end road.  Turned around and headed in the opposite direction, and ended up at Matai Bay – again, the wrong end of the peninsula.  We asked for directions at a small shop and got ourselves sorted out and back on Highway 10, heading southeast.  We turned north onto Whangaroa Bay (the wh is pronounced like an F, no idea why the colonists decided to skip the F or even a Ph in creating an alphabet for Maori) and missed a turn, and ended up in picturesque Whangaroa Harbour.  Warmed up with some lunch, got directions again, headed out.  (I have to add that we saw one of the strangest lunches here - fish and chips with a side of fried eggs, eaten layered on top of the fish and chips!!!)

Decided since it was rainy we should head to Kaeo, where we heard the library had free wifi.  And that’s where we spent the very rainy afternoon, catching up on email and posting the blog.  It was warm, dry, and the librarian was a very nice woman.  (And we might go back tomorrow, weather depending – it it’s nice, we’ll play outside.)

Wifi shut down at 4 PM, so we headed back toward Whangaroa Bay, and then headed to the east side of this peninsula, across the Whangaroa Range, to Matauri Bay.  This is a lovely crescent beach, with piles of pink and white shells on the upper edge (so the over all effect is a pale pink band), and white sand by the water.  There are a number of islands in the bay, and the headlands extend a bit on both sides, making it quite protected.  The Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace boat that was blown up by French “intelligence” agents, was towed to this harbour and sunk to create a dive site – there’s a monument to the man who died on the boat somewhere near here, and I hope to find that tomorrow.  (This was the first act of terrorism in New Zealand, and the world was appalled by the act.)

And there are some CRAZY people half in the water, picking up something in the breaking waves – Richard and I are both chilled to the bone, and thinking about turning on the heater tonight (if we could only figure out how to do that, it’s a propane heater and we’re too tired to go outside and turn the tank on) and these two people are on the beach and in the waves and we are both getting colder just looking at them!!!!

We’re settled in a “holiday park” nearly right on the beach, just a few feet higher up – the caravan is under a few evergreen trees, our back to the beach, providing us with a wonderful view.  We’re powered up, and hope there isn’t a storm or a tsunami.  A pot of tea, an easy dinner, maybe a glass of our NZ wine, and we’re all set for the night.  We’ll see where we go tomorrow. 

Next morning – we originally parked at a bit of a tilt.  The tilt got WORSE during the night!!  The wind raged, the trailer rocked us to sleep, and the two of us kept sliding slightly in our bed.  However, we managed to pull out just fine, and we’re planning to continue in a southeasterly direction.

We’re back in Kaeo, at the library – 100 year old building, was originally the post office; building next door is 175 years old or so; the chemist beyond that is in the building that was originally the church, but the church was enlarged and rebuilt across the street.  Kaeo is a very sweet (and tiny) old town!  (Their motto is “Kaeo:  Small Town, Big Spirt!”  That’s on the signs at each end of town.)

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