Mount Maunganui - Te Araroa
Sep 23, 2008
|Depart Mount Maunganui: 367 km (09.05)
This morning we awoke early again. It was lovely lying in bed listening to the ocean. It was a cold night though and by the morning I was struggling to stay warm. So we got up at 5.30 and had a quick breakfast then set off on the tramp around the bottom of the volcano. The joggers were already at it – we heard the first one on the boardwalk at 5.30.
We had a lovely walk, it took about an hour altogether. We didn't see any dolphins (Nick was chatting to Niel our neighbour last night, and he said that they often stay there and dolphins and penguins can be seen on that walk) but we did see lots of birds and some lovely vistas.
When we got back we had another breakfast and left the site – somewhat reluctantly. We had thought about staying an extra night and given where we are tonight, maybe we should have done.
We joined Highway 2 and zoomed down, as close to 90 kmh as our bone-rattler would manage, Whakatane and then on to Opotiki.
I was quite tired quite quickly this morning, so we stopped at a beach on an estuary for some fresh air around 11.30. Boy it was windy there, and pretty cold despite the sun. Two men were there cockling. It looked like a very amateur production – they just seemed to be walking across the sand (in the sea if you get my drift) feeling for them with their feet, then when they felt something one of the men would dive down and get it. The other chap didn't seem to keen on getting fully wet, and I don't blame him. I don't know how long they'd been doing it when we arrived, but we saw the guy make about 5 attempts and then they both got out and dried off. Strange way to earn a living.
After a banana I felt a little perkier, but what I really needed was a coffee, so in the next town we stopped at a diner and got two lattees. After that I felt much better and managed the long drive pretty well after that, I think.
At Opotiki we came off the highway and followed the coastal road all the way round to Te Araroa. There is no denying the scenery here is stunning, and still lots of change around each corner – but less so than the previous days. It also seems dryer, not so tropical. There's more (yellow flowered thorn bushes) and straggly heathers than lush green foliage of ferns and laurels. The beaches were also mainly black sand and COVERED in drift wood – sometimes feet deep that you could barely see the sand. It gave a 'messy' feeling, not so pretty as the other beaches. This area is also sparsely populated. There are few businesses and hardly anything for tourists. One of the reasons we came so far is that we could not find a motor park.
It also seems a lot poorer here. Smaller and older dwellings, no pleasure boats or posh cars.
The guidebooks really seem to be selling this place, but really there's nothing here for tourists and the scenery on previous days has been better.
There's just been some kind of noise from under the camper. Maybe an air bubble in a water tank or something, but because of where we are, it's made us jumpy. Is one of the natives trying to steel our gas tank? We peeked outside but it is absolutely pitch black! No security lighting on the site whatsoever. It's windy too so the wind is whistling through the trees. I'm sure we're going to sleep really well tonight! Bring back the roll of the ocean.
Nick's just gone out and done a walk about and it seems we're all in tact. There are also zillions of stars to see because it is so dark here.
Anyway, that's it for today. So far we have traveled 777km (nearly 300 of those today!).
The weather today was sunny and warm. Much warmer than our springtime – especially in the sun.
We are really missing our Dukie. We think of him often and make stupid comments about him all the time.