Dec. 30th, 2002
We're back in Auckland after a week touring Northland. I haven't been able to find a PC that will allow me to download any of the pictures that we took from our digital camera, so a text update will have to suffice for now. Maybe I'll be able to add some pictures later. Carol's thoughts are in red.
We finished the day at our holiday home in Houhora, where we spent the next three nights. It was a fully equipped cottage, so we cooked all of our own meals, including a delicious turkey dinner for Christmas, which also provided us with turkey sandwiches for the next few days, and a delicious turkey risotto in the cabin at Tauranga Bay.
We spent Christmas day at Henderson Beach (after visiting Cape Reinga and climbing the dunes), and had a picnic lunch, complete with beer. Didy'all know that it's perfectly legal to drink beer on the beach in New Zealand. In fact it's legal in all public places (e.g., in the park, walking down the street, etc.). I suggested to Carol that if Mark and Dave knew about that law they'd move here immediately.
After our three nights at the holiday home, we headed down south. We went to Mangonui where we checked email, and tried to get on a fishing boat, no dice. We rented a tennis court at a posh resort, and Bob beat me, even though he was playing with his old raquet. Then went to a cabin in the woods.
We left Houhora on the 27th and headed to Tauranga Bay, where we met Richard who was our host for 2 nights. He took us out for a day's kayaking on the 28th - a 16km circumnavigation of Stephenson Island, where we saw a little blue penguin, lots of kingfishers, and plenty of sheep and seagulls, some of which tried to dive-bomb us (the seagulls, not the sheep). We tried to fish, but they weren't biting. The evening before and after the trip were spent in this amazing cabin that Richard built on his property. It's a one-room cabin with running water, a gas cooker and no electricity. There's a huge picture window that looks out onto the bay, framed by pines and a blooming pohutakawa tree, which provided the best view either of us had ever experienced. We spent hours just looking out the window. There was also a flush toilet and a cold-water shower beside the cabin - literally. The toilet and shower and totally out in the open, with no walls or ceiling. It was also the best view either of us had even experienced while sitting on the toilet.
Last night we stayed at the Ruakaka Reserve Motor Camp. That was another interesting experience. We walked to the beach, which is a shore bird reserve, where we saw many Variable Oystercatchers, some on their nests with young. The motor camp itself was also interesting, as there muat have been close to 1,000 people staying there, some in camper vans, but many in tents like us. OK, not really like us. They had tents the size of houses, and filled with all of the amenities of home. They had outdoor kitchens set up, and there was even a huge tent with a ping-pong table in it.
And that brings us back to Auckland today, where we'll be staying for a couple of days and then heading to the Coromandel to do some tramping. So far we've put almost exactly 1000km on the car.
Hope everyone has (or had) a happy new year!