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random tales from strange lands this is a tale of my attempt to follow the summer to different parts of our world and how it appears to me


NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 10 November 2008 | Views [1176]

Our trip began with Rachel having a head start of a few hours on me.  I hoped to catch her before she got too far though!  She had made a bee-line for the dentist while I finished packing the car (her mum’s 4x4 actually).  Fate had thrown a proverbial spanner in the works and delayed our departure by somehow making a teacup jab at Rachel’s tooth, chipping off half of a porcelain veneer. 

With the tooth repaired, we turned our sights to our first destination – the local car wreckers.  Maybe not on most tourist itineraries, but essential for us, since the car jack was missing the crucial winding handle part.  How could we expect to travel confidently for 3 weeks without being able to change a tyre?  We did pack in some spinach however (freshly harvested from our organic garden), so perhaps a ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ burst of strength could’ve been employed for heroic tyre-changing??

Our first destination was a tiny west coast town called Marakopa, beyond the well-worn tourist trails of Waitomo.  Rachel had spent many summer days there with her family, but I had yet to spend any time there exploring the coast & casting for kahawai.  We had a stopover first at Otorohanga, to visit Rachel’s Grandma.  She was very happy to see us and provided us with some delicious fresh baking & home grown strawberries to sustain us on our travels. 

The road from Waitomo to Marakopa passed a few natural wonders – pockets of untouched and regenerating native forest, the spectacular Marakopa Falls and a gigantic natural rock arch.  A river had first carved out a cave through the limestone rock then most of the roof collapsed, leaving a 50m deep gorge with only one roof section remaining.  Trees clung tenaciously to the sheer rock walls, oblivious of the fallen trunks of past neighbours, now littering the riverbed below.  Endless drips of water fell from the ceiling of the arch above, slowly growing stalactites for future generations of tourists to marvel at. 

We arrived at Marakopa with a few hours of daylight up our sleeves, so decided to head off to the harbour mouth to try our luck and hopefully catch our dinner fresh from the sea.  And hooray!  Tangaroa rewarded our efforts with a gift of a pair of kahawai (after we’d returned the first one to the sea).  By then, the sun had set over the Tasman Sea and our stomachs were insisting that we hurry back to the camp kitchen.  We baked two of the fillets with herbs from our supplies & a squeeze of fresh lemon (picked that morning from Mick & Jen’s tree).  Yum!!!  :)  Rachel experimented a bit with a drink to accompany the dinner and discovered that red wine doesn’t really complement fish too well.  But a nice cold beer certainly did.  :)

Our first morning waking in the tent was certainly not what we were expecting… we heard a strange, repetitive noise of something beating on the ground and drawing closer and louder… of course, a wild horse on the loose!!  We felt very vulnerable, with only a thin layer of nylon between our cosy bedroom and the world outside, which now included a crazy horse!  By the time we figured out where it was a local farmer came roaring in on his quad bike and chased the horse out, hopefully back to its paddock?  We were too jittery to go back to sleep after that, so decided to get out to the coast again in search of more fish! 


We lugged our rods, tackle & lunch around past the harbour entrance and south along the shore, until our progress was interrupted by the tide washing up a rocky channel with no easy way around.  Rachel decided to scout up the steep hill for a path, but didn’t have much fun in all the toitoi and flax.  She returned with razor-thin cuts around her legs, and no news of a path.  Luckily the tide was ebbing and we got past the obstacle after a bit of sunbathing & relaxing.  However, Rachel wasn’t so lucky when she discovered later in the day that her back was turning to a lobster shade of red.  Fortunately she remembered a past sunburn incident here and being treated by aloe vera from a neighbour’s garden.  We found the plant again and borrowed a few leaves to moisturise and soothe Rachel’s skin. 

The next beach beyond the tidal channel looked promising for some surfcasting so we got started and patiently continued through the heat of the day.  But the fish just weren’t cooperating.  :(  After a couple of hours, we’d only caught a small one each, so we decided to try again closer to the harbour mouth, where we’d had some success the previous night.  And it worked!  I got a good sized kahawai again, but Rachel struck out.  

Back at the campground we decided to try a game of tennis.  The Marakopa Tennis Club was based at the campground and conveniently provided two rackets for free use.  I think the rackets were probably older than me though!  Rachel hadn’t played much tennis before so we tried to just use the front squares of the court.  But I think she enjoyed it when I had to run after ‘accidental’ shots that went a bit too far.  It was a fun way to spend the last of the afternoon though, even if my feet got sore from running around barefoot on the concrete surface. 

Our second fish dinner was a delicious fish pie with creamy sauce and mashed potato on top.  Fresh from the sea to our tummies. :) 

Tags: beaches, fishing, roadtrips

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