Monday, 23 September 2013

Maraehako Bay

According to the Pacific Coast Highway Bible Whanarua Bay is considered by many to the prettiest bay on the coast.  And well it may be. 

But at the bottom of a similarly steep driveway, and the next bay along the road, is Maraehako Bay, our destination.

We were just in time to catch the soft evening light on the adjoining bay.

To sit in the courtyard:

And watch the day draw to a close out over the sea. 

We had expected "absolute sea front accommodation" and we weren't disappointed, any closer and we would have had wet feet.  The quirky buildings are all built by the owner Pihi, over multiple levels with steps and ramps and decks hither and thither amongst craggy rocks and cliffs and giant pohutukawa trees.  That's our room with the yellow door, just up a few steps from beach level, with the kitchen above. 

It's a peaceful, secluded paradise in a little bay with a freshwater spring and little waterfall with hammocks strung above the stream - and resident eel.  No photo, you can only see him at night with the aid of a torch.

A torch is also  needed to visit the little cave on the other end of the tiny bay where little blue penguins surf in to nest for the night.

 This is not a beach for long walks in the sand, but I enjoyed scrambling over the rocks, fighting to keep my footing.  I only fell a couple of times, lost a bit of skin off my elbows and knees but it was fun!

Maraehako means "a place of meeting for good people".

Sunday, 22 September 2013

It rained last night.

At the last minute I swapped my walking shoes for my gum boots, remembering it had rained last night.  I sleep pretty soundly but the thunder had woken me and the lightning lit up my bedroom like it was the middle of a bright day.   I listened to the rain drumming on the roof for a while but nothing keeps me awake for long.

The track was a bit muddy but that's nothing new really.  But when I came over the top of the hill looking to the back of the farm I had to declare, "It DID rain last night!"  That water isn't the overflow from the creek it's just water that hasn't had time to drain away yet.  

And, oh darn, look at that water across the track.  I'm glad I put those gum boots on.  The new ones, here comes the waterproof test.  I'm pleased to say they passed the test.

 Our pretty little stream was anything but. 

That water is quite high actually.

It was a beaut day, about 22C.  Everywhere there are signs of spring.  I was quite warm by the time I got back home, spent the rest of the day in short sleeves - roll on summer!

Friday, 20 September 2013

FSO - Blowing in the Wind

Even after thinking about it for the past week I still hear Bob Dylan before I conjure up possible images for "Blowin' in the Wind"

I realize I remember totally useless information from my youth while forgetting important stuff about today.  I found Bob's explanation about his song:

"There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind – and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some  ...But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many   . . . You people over 21, you’re older and smarter."  

I'm happy to agree - the answer is blowing in the wind, not sure about the older folk being smarter though.

I associate these clouds with wind up high in the atmosphere.  Maybe the answer is up there somewhere.

Maybe the answer is here, at the Hokianga Harbour entrance.

Or outside the local school.   Hmm, yes that would be a good place to find an answer.

Or maybe it's right here, on my doorstep.

To see what was blowing in the wind in the home towns of the rest of the Friday Shoot Out team, just pop over here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Continuing on the Pacific Coast Highway

We called in to the Visitor's Info Centre in Whakatane and a delightful young lady presented me with a little booklet saying, "This is the bible for the East Cape."  What a great little publication it is,  jam packed with information about each and every beach along the highway.  The road hugs the coast, most of the time right beside the beach with bush clad mountains on the other side most of the way.  We passed through dozens of bays and little beaches and The Bible provided information about them all.  Whether they were suitable for swimming, better for fishing, diving, whether the beach shelves steeply.

The Bible told us that visitors are welcome to inspect the Marae grounds at Omarumutu.  Normally we, as pakahas (non-Maori), would not enter upon marae grounds unless specifically invited.

 Motu River

A little past Motu River, we stopped at Omaio, I was hanging out for a cup of coffee.  I think it was around 4 pm by then and this was the first place we'd come to since lunch time that offered a cafe.  The staff didn't seem very happy to see us arrive, they were obviously getting ready to leave for the day.  I may have made them grumpier still if I'd known I'd been served instant coffee before I left the premises!

Following the advise of The Bible and the lass in the cafe we went around the corner to find the public toilets with another marae with an elaborately carved entrance on one side of the road.

 and the shingley beach on the other:

Just a little further along the road an old abandoned church caught our eye.

We were quite restrained when it came to churches and gave in to temptation only a few times.  Couldn't resist this one with daffodils alongside the road.

and a few sheep lazing in the sunshine on the other side of the road:

Chris hit the brakes and backed up when we passed this sign.  Neither of us has ever heard of a pig dog training school!  The Bookbinder sign below it just added to our amusement.

Ohope Beach (I'm pretty sure).

I didn't take notes of what these signify but I don't think I've seen a carving before that includes a yellow haired pakeha.

 A competitor approaching the finish line at Ohope of the multi-sport "Monty's Revenge" (25 km mountain bike ride,  17 km in kayaks and final 12 kms run)  We'd seen some runners passing through town and a young marshall told us where the race would be finishing.

We will arrive at Maraehako Bay soon.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Another malaise

It's been ages since I felt like blogging or even visiting other bloggers.    My doctor gave me some news that wasn't exactly welcome and I think I threw a bit of a tantrum.  I stomped off to a strange place and into a mood that was rather unusual for me.  Having written that, I realize I've written something similar before and, after searching back through my posts, discovered I was in a similar situation not long after I started blogging in '09. 

 I suppose we can all, from time to time, be gripped by moods that are vastly different from our usual mien. A little random gene that manages to fight its way past all the others that dominate, fights its way to the surface and takes command for a time before being beaten back into the depths by the daily troops. My little random gene has held all the others at bay for a few weeks – pretty good going for something that only pops up every few years..

The only word I can think of to describe my mood was a malaise which is a word I associate with Victorian ladies who fainted and swooned and drifted around the place in a dream. Weren’t they always sinking into a malaise at the drop of a hat? In my malaise I just felt exhausted, lifeless, had zero energy, it was an effort to walk to the kitchen to turn on the kettle let alone feed myself. I didn’t feel unwell in any way, I just didn’t feel well.  I did have a bit of pain in my hips and back and had almost resigned myself to accepting that was my lot in life.

And my mind was as decrepit as my body, couldn’t concentrate, had to swap books as the one I was reading suddenly became far too difficult to follow. And I even had trouble following the plot in a bodice ripper. 

I'm still waiting for my daily genes to regain command, I know they will.  But they are taking too long so I'm determined to force the issue and tell you about my recent trip down to the East Cape.

My friend Chris and I usually take a mid-winter break but hadn't got around to planning anything for this year.  We finally decided  to go somewhere neither of us had been before.  After a bit of a discussion we discovered neither of us has travelled the road from Opotiki north east to Hicks Bay.  And Chris had heard about a backpackers that is rated in the top 10 in the world on one backpackers site.  I wouldn't go quite that far but the place definitely had its own unique charm.

But first, a few shots of travelling south.  Heading towards the east coast I reached for my camera as soon as I spotted this mountain range ahead.  Strange how the shape of a mountain can transport me back to my childhood and revive wonderful memories of travelling up the valley towards my grandparents farm for the school holidays.  

We don't know any people in this neck of the woods but we stopped to chat with this chap.  He seemed quite interested in us. 

We lingered in Paeroa to look at the L & P statue - Lemon and Paeroa, World Famous in New Zealand as the ad goes, our national soft drink which has been popular with Kiwis since the early 1900s.

 We arrived in Tauranga after 5 pm and decided to stay there for the night.  Took us ages driving around to find a motel, obviously we weren't in the right part of town.  When we did find one, it was a little expensive but we were in a "what the hell" mood by then and enticed by "harbour views".   If I'd known that motel offered the best bed I was to see for four nights, I would have been prepared to pay more. The best view was from the kitchen window!  The next morning was sunny, still and clear.  The sunny weather continued all the time we were away.

We lingered a while the next day in Whakatane.  Chris is a very accommodating co-traveller.  It's been many, many years since I visited there other than to pass through.  I had a vague memory of the harbour entrance and Chris obliged by driving around until we found it. 

It wasn't far, it's very close to town.


 I wanted to see the statue of Wairaka.  She stands beside the harbour bar.  Tradition has it , that the early Polynesian males went ashore leaving the women in a drifting canoe. Paddles of the canoe were Tapu to the women. But not to be left helpless, Wairaka cried "Kai Whakatane au I ahau" I will act as a man and so the captain's daughter took up the paddle and returned the canoe to shore. 

The whitebaiters were out in number along the banks of the harbour.  New Zealand whitebait are caught in the lower reaches of the rivers using small open-mouthed hand-held nets.   Whitebaiters constantly attend the nets in order to lift them as soon as a shoal enters the net.  Otherwise the whitebait quickly swim back out.  It appears to require a lot of patience, watching and waiting for shoals to appear.   Typically, the small nets have a long pole attached so that the whitebaiter can stand on the river bank and scoop the net forward and out of the water when whitebait are seen to enter it.

Whitebaiting in New Zealand is a seasonal activity with a fixed and limited period enforced during the period that the whitebait normally migrate up-river. The strict control over net sizes and rules against blocking the river to channel the fish into the net permit sufficient quantity of whitebait to reach the adult habitat and maintain stock levels. The whitebait themselves are very sensitive to objects in the river and are adept at dodging the nets.

Whitebait is very much a delicacy and commands high prices to the extent that it is the most costly fish on the market, if available. During average to good seasons, I believe prices vary between $50 and $70 per kilogram.  It is normally sold fresh in small quantities, although some is frozen to extend the sale period. Nevertheless, whitebait can normally only be purchased during or close to the netting season. The most popular way of cooking whitebait in New Zealand is the whitebait fritter, which is essentially an omelette containing whitebait. Purists use only the egg white in order to minimise interfering with the taste of the bait.

A couple of watching and waiting shots.

It seems the birds have been waiting here, too.

 Some come prepared for a long wait.

Beside the harbour children play.  This scene made me smile, they were so sure their parents couldn't see them!

Friday, 13 September 2013

FSO - Retro

"Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall post-modern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. For example, clothing from the 1980s or 1990s could be retro."

Excuse me, the 1980s?  That was just yesterday!  I'm thinking more the 50s and 60s,

Luckily for me, the weekend before I went away I had a trip to Auckland to see the California Design 1930 - 1965 Exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery.   I realized my taste has never moved on from that era. I love the simple, sleek lines, the clear colours.

I'm happy to have moved on when it comes to fashion.

It's not quite me somehow.

I'm really happy about the advance in technology although I don't think my camera can compete with this one when it comes to style.

I think this has been a great topic and look forward to seeing the contributions of the rest of the team here.