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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Geocaching and Katikati

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 14 August 2014 | Views [774]

It would take me only two lifts to get to Tauranga and another couple of short lifts to get to Katikati, the only Ulster settlement outside of Ireland. A group of Ulster Scots came from County Tyrone, and settled in Katikati in 1875. I'm Irish yet I know so little about Ireland and Irish history. Katikati is well known for kiwifruit and avocadoes, and the Katikati Avocado Festival is held every February. After getting some fish & chips, an old man in a vintage red car pulled up. It was John, my CouchSurfing host. He's 79 and has hosted many CSers in his two campervans. None of his immediate family is still alive, so CSers are his only company. There's a vegetable garden, a wonderful atmosphere and a gorgeous view of the Kaimai Ranges from his property.

We picked up some wine as John made some pumpkin soup. It wasn't really a soup, but more like mashed pumpkin. It was cold outside, and I felt very cold even coming from Queenstown. John lights and heats his campervan using gas, and each tank lasts at least several weeks. Wind and rain slammed against the campervan, but we were warm over dinner, a cuppa, and good convo tonight. John has a large collection of cardboard signs created my CSers and other guests, and I'll be sure to add one to his collection before I set off. I'm in the beginning of a multi-month, multi-country journey which will include Norfolk Island, Brisbane, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia before I fly to Darwin at the end of October.

Today I would venture out for the day and soak up Katikati and do some geocaching. What is geocaching? It's a game of sorts where you use GPS coordinates to find a cache. Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes and are hidden in even the most far-flung places. There are geocaches in Antarctica, Pitcairn Island, on top of mountains, and on walks several days from the nearest road. Dave Thompson in Napier introduced me to geocaching but I don't have a GPS or an iPhone so it's a bit more challenging for me. For searching around for two caches with no luck I called in for a coffee at Robert Harris and then walked over to the Big Avocado.

All things avocado are sold here. Avocado is a perfect replacement for butter in recipes, and one of my favourite things to make with avocado is chocolate avocado pudding. It sounds vile but it's incredibly tasty! With my fill of avocado I took my poetic self onto the Haiku Walkway. Whilst I don't care as much for haikus as other forms of poetry I enjoyed the nature-themed poetry inscribed into the rocks.

Some of the haikus don't follow the 5-7-5 syllable format but my theory is there's no such thing as a "wrong" poem. More than a dozen haikus are on the walkway, and then I was face-to-face with a mural despicting Katikati's historical people.

In addition to Ulsters, avocadoes, kiwifruit, and wonderful views, Katikati is famous for murals. There are definitely some colourful paintings in this already colourful town.

With some more seeking, I found my first unassisted geocache (my first three were assisted by Dave). Tucked in a tube about double the size of a film cannister were some pieces of paper to record your username. The golden rules with geocaching is that you must sign the log and you must be discreet. People who are not geocachers are known as "mugglers" so it's best not to search where there are loads of people. In reading a bit about geocaching, some geocachers have been questioned by police and some caches have been suspected as bombs or staches of drugs. Most geocaches have nothing of any significant value: usually a few small toys or trinkets. Another golden rule is to leave something of equal or greater value if you take something from the cache. With my first unassisted find, it was cause to get sweet & sour pork from the takeaway, but it wasn't all that great. Rain and wind ruled for most of the day, and I made my way back to the campervan in time for some dinner and convo with John. Tonight we had salad and silverbeet. Wind slammed against the campervan as I lay down for a rest but I'm hoping for some good weather tomorrow as I'm hitchhiking to Whitianga. 

Katikati is a neat place, and definitely worth a visit. If I'm back in NZ by February I'd love to be here for the Katikati Avocado Festival. 

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