We braved a bit of light drizzle to explore part of the farm, and the next day the sun was back. The farm has a lot of land attached, and we went for a walk in the bush to a series of rockpools. Thank heavens for the sun- the water was warm enough to swim in and I splashed about under a series of cascades, feeling like the girl from a shampoo advert
! And once again, we had the whole lot to ourselves (I hate these tourist traps!). The evening was more active when we took part in an annual tradition of the farm- the New Year's Eve football tournament! I'll just give you a few seconds to pick yourself up off the floor at the thought of me voluntarily going anywhere near a football.... It was good fun and a very social- and fairly sober- way to spend the evening. My team of four made the semi finals, largely thanks to Rick's hidden talents as a goalie (he has the purple toe to prove his dedication). We wound up playing what was probably the first football game of the year anywhere in the world against the German/ Dutch team.... our match was cancelled when another player went for a goal and hit the ball slightly too high, which rebounded off the crossbar and broke a window. Ooops. But technically we were undefeated! We also ended up with a slightly drunk pig, who managed to steal someone's glass of wine then fell asleep on the pile of football shirts. I guess pigs deserve a bit of New Year's cheer too!
The following day we returned to the water, hiring some of the farm's sea kayaks for a paddle around Whangaroa Harbour. This is a huge natural harbour, surrounded by hills covered in lush greenery, more bizarre and beautiful rocks (including the Duke's nose, shaped like a face), lots of sea birds and mangroves (achievement of the day- manouvering my sea kayak through mangroves without using the rudder!)
. We found a lovely secluded cove to have lunch, surrounded by pohutukawas in full flower. Not a bad spot! We annoyed lots of seagulls, who are all nesting at the moment and were keen to shoo us away, and watched shags and cormorants diving for fish, then holding out their wings to dry. The millions of oysters clinging to the rocks were very tempting but luckily for them we didn't have a sharp knife suitable for prising them off with. A headwind in the afternoon did its best to exercise our arm muscles as we returned to the wharf, but we made it without too much pain. Definately a pursuit to be repeated!
We found ourselves praying for a headwind (or any wind at all) when we went sailing on the Snow Cloud the next day. We had the choice of helping the skipper sail, or relaxing and enjoying pancakes. Rick and I went for the hands on approach, putting up sails and even taking the tiller! I am pleased to say I got the yacht back through the harbour without incident! We left Whangaroa and sailed to the Cavelli Islands, the resting place of the Rainbow Warrior. Snorkelling was an option, but we decided to take the dinghy and row to one of the larger islands, where we took a walk for wonderful views and combed the beach for paua shells. Rick was a great ferryman, but I decided to take a turn on the way back. This was my first attempt at rowing and I found I could go more or less in the right direction but was slightly hindered when the oars kept snagging on my life jacket (that's my excuse anyway)
! We were glad that we had passed up the chance of snorkelling when the boat was surrounded by dozens of large purple jellyfish. An attempt at catching lunch resulted in a very angry barracuda on board (thrown back as the thing was too big and evil to fry). Our only other catch of the day was a large lump of seaweed, which was less exciting but better tempered. We saw various species of shags and shearwaters, gannets and- best of all- little blue penguins which bobbed up for air whilst hunting fish. These tiny chaps are the world's smallest penguins, and very cute. After a large lunch the wind had picked up enough to unfurl the sails and get most of the way home using the power of the wind.
The following day we said goodbye to pigs and pizza and headed back down to Auckland, via our local Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Slightly surreal, but beautifully located. Now it's back to reality, as I have a month to get ready for school and find a new flat.
Our dazzling sunshine deserted us on our way up to the winterless North. A stop in Whangarei to visit a friend of Rick's just encouraged the rain to get worse, scuppering plans of taking a bike ride. When we reached Kahoe Farm Lodge the next day, things were still grey and drippy. Stephano, the lodge owner, did his best to make up for the weather with a very warm welcome- and delicious home made pizza later on. We were also introduced to his three pet kunekunes- a Maori breed of pig. The most delightful was Ruby, the baby of the three, who brought her own special brand of mischief and cuteness to the farm.