NZ Last land tour this time

Sat 21 Apr 2018 00:21

Our Last New Zealand Land Tour on this Visit

6th April 2018 South to Tauranga

We were sitting on the veranda of the Warkworth Riverview Café when I realised I had forgotten to bring warm, waterproof jackets for either of us. We left in brilliant sunshine so maybe that was why I omitted to pack the essentials, but now the sky was grey.

Tui, our little Suzuki Alto, sped confidently past the spot where, a year to the day before, Vicky had broken down in a cloud of steam. We headed for Tauranga to spend the weekend with Andrea, Mark and Luca, who moved there from Auckland four months ago. If you remember I stayed with them while Rob was having his heart operation. We first met them on a spinning dolphin swim in the water off the island of Niue.

Their new home is just a short walk from the shores of The Bay of Plenty or BOP as it is affectionately named in an area called Palm Springs, Papamoa. Recently there has been a mass movement of humanity in and out of Auckland.

The growing city has created jobs which are being filled with overseas workers placing an increasing demand for housing. This has caused a squeezing up of property prices for the limited availability and pressure on the already limited infrastructure of social services with all the social problems this causes. So many folk have moved north and south and the opportunity to take her job with her for a fresh start by the sea was one that Andrea and Mark jumped at.

Luca wasn’t too sure at first. He went AWOL (absent without leave) for a few alarming and emotionally draining days for Andrea and Mark before returning with a damaged ear, but has stuck around ever since. We think he may have established his property rights to the local white feline neighbourhood menace owned by no-one and disliked by all.

I was grateful of his help when it came to fill in my Tax form online. I got up at around 5.30am to ensure I could concentrate and get it done before the rest of us started our day. Luca meowed into the room on his way to gently scratch at Andrea and Mark’s door. Leaping onto the table he inspected the keyboard and screen before continuing on his way and solving a mystery for us. Mark had commented on just how loudly he bangs on their door.

In fact he very gently brushes the door with his paw but it is enough to push the door against its frame and that makes the noise.

On Friday 3rd of November 1769 Cook was looking north towards Mount Maunganui from the deck of Endeavour, he knew the “high round head” marked the southern entrance to Tauranga Harbour and he also knew there was a good port and a thriving small town there, but as the weather was hazy with a fresh onshore wind he prudently sailed offshore to anchor in the shelter of an island to the North East which he named the Mayor or Tuhua in Maori.

We also had a fresh onshore wind as we climbed the winding path up the Mount with Andrea and Mark to enjoy some fine all round views. I could hardly believe one young couple who stood on an overhanging rock with a sheer drop onto rock below. It reminded me of the UTube clips of selfies taken by doomed folk seconds before their deaths. Why do these people court disaster when Cook, in his spirit of adventure and discovery, did his very best to avoid it?

We continued our sortie along the beach near their new home in Montecello and returned via a drainage canal, complete with artificial ducks to encourage live ones to settle and the tsunami route, and I only mention this as we later thought we were going to need it. It’s a long way to the hills from here.

The exodus from Auckland has had an effect on property prices and development in all the popular destinations including Tauranga. Property prices have increased of late and the once modest bachs along this strand of seaside have been replaced by up market and ultra-modern houses the UK equivalent albeit much smaller development is Sandbanks in Poole.

Well what goes up must at least at some time stop going up and there is evidence that the purchasing public is beginning to question the inflated property prices. We discovered this by visiting the property auction next door with Mark and Andrea.

“Don’t sneeze Barb, you might become our neighbours!” The hoped for price on the property was a bit of a mystery, of course. The house had been given a paint job and even the garage got a new carpet. The over optimistic real estate agent upped the spiel on the rarity of the opportunity, the desirability of the location and the unrealistic potential of the value. A mystery buyer was on the other end of the phone to put pressure on anyone of the bemused and ordinary faces infront of us. The deeply cynical side of me wondered if the voice was that of the cleaning lady in the real estate office earning a little pocket money.

So the auction started and the bids maxed out with the mystery buyer on the phone placing the highest bid. Another mobile was used to contact the owners and then there was a tense wait for them to consider the offer. Much important discussion was taking place we were informed. More like the tears of disappointment were flowing amidst hasty mathematical calculations relating to loss cutting I thought. The property went for $800,000 to a buy to let purchaser from Wellington, $45,000 less than the couple had hoped to get.

A property is worth exactly what it finally sells for. Close the deal and move on, quickly I think. Just as we were about to, but first a nocturnal misunderstanding.

At around 3.00am the next morning the tsunami alarms starts. An outside warning that we must evacuate along the proscribed tsunami route to avoid the massive wave that is presently making its deadly way across the South Pacific, perhaps from an earthquake off South America, such as you remember Zoonie had experienced in Bahia, Ecuador.

As I thrust one leg into a trouser I thought that we would surely have had days of warnings through the media. Within a few seconds Rob and I were standing fully dressed in the silent living room. Luca strolled in nonchalantly and meowed. No imminent disaster was worrying him. If we had the intelligence to understand his wise words they would have been “Don’t be daft its only the local fire station off on a callout!”

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