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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

South to Taranaki

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 13 November 2008 | Views [909] | Comments [1]

Before leaving Marakopa, we decided to have another game of tennis, since it’d been so much fun the previous evening.  And again we enjoyed patting the ball back & forwards, although there wasn’t as much running about this time.  Hooray for the Marakopa Tennis Club!  :)

South from Marakopa we stopped to check out a couple of other beaches – Kiritehere & Waikawau.  Waikawau was unique for the tunnel access through a cliff to the beach.  It felt like a gateway to another world (a deserted Middle Earth shore perhaps).  It looked like the high tides washed right up to the base of the cliff and had eroded various caves & step formations over the centuries.  Climbing over the rocks at the north end brought us to the base of a waterfall which was spilling down from the flax-covered horizon above.  Colonies of fluorescent green algae were clinging to the dark rocks, some as dripping stalactites and others like weird radioactive lava flows crawling from one rock-pool to the next.  The holes and cracks in the rocks were crawling with crabs too, some as big as a hand.  

Back towards the southern end of the beach we were surprised to see a face carved into the soft rock just above the sand.  The rock had eroded to create a point, which the artist had incorporated into the sculpture as a protruding chin.  It was hard to know if the face had been watching over the beach for a few years or for hundreds?  Were we even in 2008 still??  Had the tunnel transported us to another time??

We explored the rock pools at the south end, in search of some edible shellfish or crustaceans.  Rachel spotted a good sized crab & went to pounce on it, but it scurried away beneath a rock just in the nick of time.  So no fresh kaimoana for us that day.

Back in the ‘real’ world, we drove on southwards until a sheltered grassy area beside the road enticed us to stop for a picnic.  There was even a little old hut beneath the first branches of the trees, constructed almost entirely from ponga logs.  Was this the home of some surprisingly ingenious kiwi or perhaps a lost hobbit?  Regardless of such intrigues, it didn’t take long before we were getting overwhelmed by the heat.  So we continued south towards Mokau, where we enjoyed yummy cold ice creams overlooking the Mokau River.  It was a short drive from there to Tongapurutu where we planned to stay, but we took a detour to sample some local organic beer at the White Cliffs Brewery.  It was so good we bought four packs of their lager and pale ale, as well as a local feijoa wine, to enjoy back at Marks bach. 

Once we arrive at Mark’s we set about gathering firewood for the outdoor bath, although we didn’t end up using it until the following night.  We did go for a mission of a walk in the middle of the night up to the highest point on Mark’s property.  Our path was lit by isolated clusters of glow-worms and obstructed by a couple of resident goats.  We kept our ears open for any kiwi in the neighbourhood, but we did head moreporks (NZ native owl) in the surrounding bush.  Luckily they didn’t come closer with their insistent demands for more pork – maybe they knew I was a vegetarian??

Our mission for the following morning was to catch more fish!  This time from the mouth of the Tongapurutu River.  A steep, bush-lined path took us down from a random road-head carpark to the river bank.  A posse of chilled out cows stood guard, but we weren’t afraid and found our way through.  Hooray!  Unfortunately, our brave efforts in reaching the river weren’t rewarded with the haul of kahawai we were expecting – Rachel just got one small fish, which went back to swim another day. 

We decided to abandon our unsuccessful fishing efforts and move on to a new adventure.  Before we could leave the carpark area, Rachel went to introduce herself to a couple of nearby lambs – one of which had “cute little horns”.  Unfortunately they weren’t as tame as Rachel hoped and refused to eat the offered grass from her hand.  But they still put a big smile on Rachel’s face.  

A little further up the coast was the Whitecliffs Walkway.  And there were more cute little lambs than Rachel could count.  But she still wanted to cuddle all of them.  Lucky for us the walkway had reopened after closing for a couple of months for the lambing season.  The walk followed a farm track along close to the coast and eventually brought us so close that the waves seemed to be breaking on the shore almost directly beneath our feet, only 100m below us.  We decided that this would be a perfect picnic spot – an extreme picnic!!  Luckily the cliff didn’t collapse while we enjoyed the view and our yummy snacks.  We searched the northern coastline for signs of Mt Karioi (near Raglan), from where I had once tried to convince Rachel that the White Cliffs of Taranaki were visible. 

On our return walk we stopped by a small stream for some rehydration – a bottle of beer left to cool in the stream for 10 minutes before drinking :)  Well-deserved too, we thought, after a few hours walking.  The local fish population came to see what was going on in their water world; darting out from hiding places in the sides of the stream.  If only we had a net, we could’ve had whitebait for dinner! 

We did have some kahawai left from our earlier success at Marakopa and this got turned into a yummy fish curry four our dinner.  We had also lit a fire beneath the outdoor bathtub and it was hot by the time our dinner was ready – so dinner in the bath :)  The location of the bathtub was unique too – beneath a canopy of manuka and ponga tress, beside a small creek, with a colony of glow-worms on the opposite bank and stars peeking through the leaves above. 

We ate our dinner under the glow of a candle, the now-dim fire below us, the stars above and with the glow-worms as our neighbours.  For dessert we had marshmallows on a stick, roasted over the glowing embers of the bath-fire.  The perfect final course for one of our most romantic dinners.

Tags: beaches, fishing, roadtrips



Saw on my FB photos of Marakopa. Looked it up and been reading your trip. Makes me homesick. Lived at Waikawau/Whareorino school house. Used to go back regularly whitebaiting and fishing, have photos as a baby running down beach through the tunnel.

  Dennis Batty Nov 6, 2009 10:24 PM

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