Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crossing the Northland

Nov. 19, 2012

We had a slow-ish start to the morning, but eventually left Ahipara and headed to Kaitaia.  Accomplished a couple of errands, had a bite, and I found a wonderful community mosaic mural!  It was at the entrance of what was once the town’s large supermarket (it has since moved a bit north) and is now mostly a parking lot – there were fish, suns, flowers, scenery, and abstract designs – just a beautiful mosaic, and of course I had to take a bunch of photos of it.  (There were two men sitting in front of the mosaic, one being an older man in a wheelchair eating his lunch, the other a middle-aged man smoking.  They both asked if I needed them to move – I said no, thank you though, I can just photograph around you – and I’m a retired art teacher who did mosaic murals with my students the last several years, so I just love this mural.  They laughed, agreed it was beautiful, and continued watching me photograph the entire thing.)

So – Richard and I formulated a plan.  I wanted to go north to Cape Reigna, the northern most tip of the North Island and where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.  Richard wanted to head east to the Bay of Islands.  We compromised with the Karikari Peninsula.  Basically, we drove east across the upper part of Northland, and then headed north out onto a long elbow-shaped peninsula covered in farmland (hence the happy sheep pictures).  Turned before we hit the town of Rangiputa, and turned toward the Pacific – now we’re snuggled in the car park at Puheke Hill (and I guess the beach might have the same name, we can’t quite tell).

Puheke Hill is a small volcano that, apparently, is extinct.  (I’m never sure if they really are extinct, since occasionally they come back alive.  Zombie volcanoes.)  

 Anyway, this small volcano stands guard over sand dunes and then a several-mile-long beach of soft white sand littered with tiny sea shells.  The Pacific is aqua blue at this beach, at least the shallow area is, then it fades quickly to deeper blue.  There are strange rocky outcroppings making lovely tide pools for chitons, limpets, barnacles, oysters, even a few fish and some skittery crabs – and also hiding a secondary beach beyond.  This is a wide beach, like Ninety Mile Beach, and we managed to get here at what seems to be low tide.  The high water mark is probably 25-30 feet up from the low tide – or so it appears.  Anyway, we saw ONE person on the beach, but he left.  We seem to have this entire area to ourselves.

We took a long walk on the beach, never did hit the other end – after about 2 miles or so, we turned around and came back because it was beginning to drizzle.

We have food and water for a few days, books to read, no internet, and we’ll probably try to climb the volcano tomorrow if it isn’t rainy.  And if we can find the path.


IVAN - a couple of chitons for you!!!

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