Easter and beyond
Wanderings around Whangarei
It really has become our home, this warm part of Northland, warm people and a warm climate. A non-permanent home but a home all the same.
The auto pilot is now fixed. It had a seal that didn’t so the inside was not only wet but there was a build-up of carbon on its working parts. To dry it the ram was placed in a bake oven and to ensure the bottom of the lazarette remains dry, which is where it lives underneath the steering quadrant, down in the bowels, Rob has led a plastic pipe upwards to just under the hatch so we can connect it to a pump and pump any water out.
Remember the couple we met on Great Barrier Island? Well we drove out to their home near Whangarei Falls the other day for lunch and met Leo, a mature border collie. Unappreciated on the farm where he grew up he was loved and looked after by a nice lady who had to part with him as she was going into a home. Such a hard decision.
He was gentle natured and came with us on a short walk around the section with Rod, who himself is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Rod thought the cabbage trees, so named by Cook because of their ascorbic qualities, were a nuisance and far too prolific. Down the hillside was a stream that was ideal for a cool swim and around the back of the house some young calves had free range over a steep hillside with plenty of mature trees for shade.
Despite the generous area in which they could run, two of the creatures had explored the grass underneath the electric fence, which for some reason was not turned on.
Leo and I set to work, circling around them and working ever so slowly so they wouldn’t run past the gap. No worries, all back together again. Rod and Helen let out the land free to a local farmer as the animals look after the land and they get some nice beef out of it and I kept up my animal rounding up skills.
We sat at the big table underneath a sun-shade on the veranda, relaxed and chatting and just passing some time together enjoying Helen’s delicious cooking. We will try and get them onboard when we return from Andrea and Mark’s in Tauranga and Hawke’s Bay where we are heading this Friday for a few days of camping and exploring the area we missed when we had to race back to Zoonie over a year ago now.
Glad we decided we will do the trip by car as the cyclones keep arriving across the Pacific. Five so far this year and with the sea-water staying above average warm the cyclones will literally keep lapping it up.
We enjoyed the warmth of the South Pacific on Easter Monday, taking a dip in the water off Oceans Beach after we had climbed Mt Manaia. The not too big waves smiled with bubbling white teeth as they slapped playfully into us. The flags were flying and the lifeguards in attendance, hoping and yet not hoping for some action, mainly because of the rip tide that had me walking hard along through the surf to keep within the flags. We then laid under our umbrella or in the sun, depending on our inclination for a rare beach afternoon.
The day had started early, in the cool, when I made a packed lunch. We set off in Tui, Rob in his walking shoes and me in my brand new pair, the replacement for the ones that I had bought in Dunedin. On the right one the sole parted from the upper and the toe fabric just disintegrated, so the company kindly sent me a new pair.
The Mount is named after a sacred chief, and the five high rocky crags represent himself, his wife and three children. The way to Oceans Beach is along his sacred path. The 420 metre high climb is not that bad for the walker as the car park is well up the hillside.
We weren’t the first to start the climb as a number of folk came down past us, “Not far now,” they’d assure us. I was amazed at the number of very young children enthusiastically making the climb until we arrived at the minimal lookout 1200 steps later after just under an hour.
Fine views across our previous anchorage in Urquarts Bay into the South Pacific and over to Great Barrier and Bream Bay, with Marsden Oil Refinery at the mouth of the river kept us engrossed for a few minutes.
On the way back down the path and boardwalks were scattered with kauri leaves and seeds and we recognised lots of slender seedlings. I hope they will thrive into the future for hundreds of years when maybe we will have learned to live in harmony with nature like indigenous people do.
Please bear with me now dear reader as I work backwards over the Easter Weekend. On Sunday we joined Gail and Tony on an Arts Trail working back from Whangarei Heads in a logical direction toward the Parua Bay Pub for lunch. Well it seems logical to me. To make the best of time we went to centres where a number of artists were displaying their creations rather than to individual studios.
The standards were high and ideas novel and original and people were buying. More than once we heard artists making satisfied comments about being nearly sold out. But the pricing was sensible and who knows when an artist might become internationally acclaimed and therefore a good investment. I would have liked more Maori art on display though.
Saturday was a chill out day on board after an early climb up the re-surfaced Parihaka path to the lookout and on Good Friday we joined Jeannie and Merv and their friends Shirley and Max for a ride on Julie Anne, an oil fired steam train for the short run to the Portland cement works and back. We passed Shirley and Max’s house where Jeannie and Merv entertained us with breakfast a few weeks ago while S & M were touring the south island.
I could not get any decent photos as we were kept behind barricades at the station and the ones I did take were through a grubby loo window as the open area behind our carriage was full with folk, all taller than me.
So the day after tomorrow, Friday, we are off on a short land trip in Tui. With the frequency of cyclones making it a non-idea to go south in Zoonie, we are so lucky to have this little 23 year old Suzuki Alto Hatchback to speed us on our way. I say speed, we move over to let faster vehicles pass, but she did nearly take off and fly like her namesake coming down the hill from Onerahi the other day. Merv has warned us to avoid pot holes or we may never be seen again. (Two photo files to come)