Trip Start Jun 11, 2007
94Trip End Ongoing
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Needless to say that we were more than ready for our two days off today and tomorrow.
We did, however, manage to more or less work the number of hours we had agreed to. One afternoon the weather was great and we went for a walk down the track, that had been fantastically cut back by Robert, to the cliff tops. We went down a path to a cove and bay that few folk know about it was fab. In the cove there was no sand, it was all pebbles and rocks, but the force and noise of the waves crashing into the cove was awesome. I found a comfy rock and chilled out.
Rob collected bits of drift and took pictures and got one of me as I got nearly washed away by a big wave! Haa haa.
We next walked to the pink beaches. This is a lovely spot where two smalls bays curve and meet. The sand is pink due to the large volume of pink shell that has been ground up in with the sand. I waded through the sea and went rock climbing and found another comfy spot in the sun to sit and relax. Robert went exploring the beach and found a dead penguin, poor thing! (the penguin, not Robert).
The next beach on is Henderson Bay but we didn't walk that far on.
Another day John said at breakfast that he had something for us to do after lunch.... We took his car and drove up Ninety Mile Beach. This was great but scary too! I didn't trust that the tide wouldn't come in and trap us and you have to drive down the middle section of beach as if you go too close to the sea you sink in the wet sand, but if you go too close to the dry sand you get stuck there! So many dangers, and it wasn't our car!!!!
It was thrilling though, we got on at the Hukatere access point (just below Pukenui) and Robert drove fast right up to the access point at the Big Sand Dunes. This access point is through a stream and we'd been told it was okay if you didn't stop moving otherwise the car would start to sink! What happened? We had to stop for some big bloody 4x4's coming towards us through a narrow bit! Thankfully we didn't sink and we got going again.
John had asked us to collect some shell fish (I've forgotten the name) for tomorrows dinner. You're allowed to get 150 per person legally and you get them on 90 mile beach by pushing your toes into the sand to feel for the shells then digging them out quickly with your hands. (You have to do it quickly as the bury themselves deeper). Anyway once we were off the beach and in the stream I felt bad that we hadn't dared stop on the beach to get any, we turned around and went back. I said that if we parked on the beach not too far from the stream entrance we could get out quick if the tide started to come in.....
Robert parked the car back end to the sea, about 25 feet away from the water. I got out and removed my shoes, grabbing a bucket from the car I walked to the waters edge and stood up to my ankles in the water, bent over to roll up my trousers to above my knee and got a face full of water as the tide came in very quickly... I looked back to warn Robert and nearly weed! The tide had gone right up under the car and my worst nightmare was being realised as the water passed the back and then the front tyres! (How can one wave be so big to cover that much ground!) Robert (who's not a big sand lover) had finally, grudgingly removed his socks & shoes and upon seeing this tide of water rushing towards the car had jumped on to the sill of the open car door. Between shock, panic and laughing at Robert balanced half in, half out of the car I managed to shout at him, "never mind getting wet, the car could start sinking if another wave that big came, get off the car and move it!"
Fortunately it didn't get stuck and Robert was able to move it straight away, but I ran over, chucked the bucket in the back seat and jumped in the front and with a look that need no words, we agreed that we were done on the beach and Robert drove us back up the stream.
It was with great relief that we arrived back at the Big Sand Dunes car park and had to sit quietly for a moment before laughing at each other. Then it was back to the hostel to finish our working hours for the day.
We had been moved from our room at the back of the hostel to room 5 as Marcus was doing the floors in our room. It was strange to be in a proper bedroom. But this morning we packed and left our scuba gear in the room as once again cold prevented us from diving whilst off, me this time! We were heading over to the Bay of Islands and so had arranged with John & Cath that we'd stay out overnight and return tomorrow night.
It was throwing down rain all day! We drove back down highway 1 and our first stop was the mission House at Mangungu (off Highway 1 at Rangiahua) It was really pretty from the out side and the front downstairs rooms were tastefully restored, however that's all we got to see of it as it was bloody closed! I took some pictures through the windows of the inside and got some nice shots of the house and church building in the grounds whilst there was a short break in the weather.
Our next stop was the mission house at Waimate North (also off highway 1) This was actually open (good start) it had a lovely old church next door which we had a look around. The house is exceptionally pretty from the outside, even in the rain. The front door was ajar and just inside it was a hand bell, like the one they used to end playtime at my old infant school, I shook it and we waited for our host (Rod) to arrive. He checked our membership to the historical society and asked if we'd like him to tell us about the house, we were the only people there so we say yes that would be great....... Oh dear! Rod liked his own voice, which wouldn't have been a problem if he was telling us interesting things about the house and its previous residents. He very quickly got off track and started telling us about his son and grandson in England and that he didn't think he would stay in NZ much longer and that he was going to go the England to see his grandson, but then live in France, but the changes in French health care legislation for immigrants had changed so he might have to stay in England after all, and the he saw John Cleese in the cinema.... Argh, go figure.
I managed to have a look around though and it is just a lovely inside as out. Poor Robert continued to be polite and endured Rods monologue.
We next did a quick stop in Paihia, as it was chucking it down the streets were rather quiet and as Robert was starving we tried to grab a bite in a café in town, however we must have been in the food twilight hour as every café was just closing or not opening until 5pm! We ended up at the Woolworths (a supermarket in NZ) and bought some stuff for dinner and breakfast. As we came back down the coast we stopped and watched a kite surfer, he was a bit rubbish! We then drove down to Opua and got the car ferry over to Russell.
The ferry is great, there's one very regularly (up to 10pm) and you queue up and drive straight on, it only takes about 15 vehicles at a time. A lovely lady took our fare, $11 (about 4 quid) bargain, and gave us a tourist map of Russell. The crossing was only about 5 mins and once across we drove straight to Russell and found the Top 10 site. The ladies here were really friendly and one of the had the same last name as us, even spelt the same way! We decided her & Robert were cousins. The site is lovely and we had some ducks visit us. After our dinner we donned our rain coats and walked into the town (only 5 mins) and found a pub, called "the pub". We found friendly bar staff and cocktails! Robert drank beer and I had cocktails....
We hadn't been in a pub for ages and thought we might do a little pub crawl, so onto the next pub we went. A few mins of wandering around told us that the next pub was "The Pub" so back we went. We received a warm welcome back and stayed a while. Either I was a little drunk (likely) and imagining it or there was a pink balloon in my loo. A photo proved the later. Phew.
Saturday 8th December 2007
We slept in the car for the first time as the weather was too crap to put up the tent. The following morning in the office we met Coco the cat. She's lovely and nuzzled into your neck for cuddles and ears rubbing, I so wanted to keep her.
We had booked a trip on the Mack Attack for this morning so made our way to the harbour and was picked up at just after 10:30am. The Mack Attack is a high-speed catermerang boat that whizzes through the waves on a tour to the "Hole in the Rock". It was exhilarating (even a bloke at the side of us was doing that slightly hysterical laugh which means you're loving it but still a bit scared at the same time) as we leapt over 6 foot waves and crashed down on the other side with spray being thrown up over us. Yee haa!
When we got to the Hole in the Rock the boat went into a cave and the skipper told us about how this rock shouldn't be here but 30 miles south, and that it was on it's end. Afterwards he drove us through the Hole in the Rock. This was the most scary bit as the water was really rough and was crashing through the hole, the water was even rougher once through to the other side. The skipper showed us the lady's face in the rock and then showed us the lighthouse and keepers house. You can rent the keepers house for $12 a night, but to get to it you have to hike your baggage and provisions over land (and very rugged landscape it is too) yourself. And I can't remember how far it is but is a fair distance. I think the views and seclusion would be worth it though, in summer of course.
When we got back we were wide awake but cold, so headed straight to a café and ordered coffees, Robert had a shot of dark rum and I had Tia Maria in the coffee. We wandered back to the car through the town looking in the local gallery shops, then went to the Pompallier mission house. This is the best house we've visited. 1. It was open; 2. Rod wasn't there. There were two ladies who gave a guided tour and it was really good as they didn't concentrate on the mission side of it but the industrial side of the house.
The house was a printers and a tannery in it's time and the house had been restored with all the original (or replicas of the original) equipment of the time. The actual processes used were demonstrated and you could actually touch and have a go at some of the equipment, really interesting and interactive. We learnt a lot of interesting facts too; like the saying that someone is "skiving off" comes from the tanning industry, the guy who finished the leather by shaving off the rough bits of suede was called a skiver and it was slow precise work but to the guys whose active job it was to soften the leather but stomping on it and beating it thought the skiver had a cushy number and didn't work as hard as they did. That's how the phrase came about! How cool it that.
Or, what about this one... In the printing industry when the letters were set manually for the words on a page into blocks all the individual letters were in sections in two cases set in front to the typesetter. The top (upper) case held capital letters and the bottom (lower) case held the little letter, hence upper and lower case letters.
Another I liked, as it was mission led swearing was forbidden and if you dropped a page of typeset all the individual letters fell out and had to be sorted and returned to the upper and lower cases to be reset. The combination of the frustration caused when this happened, not being able to swear about it and the care in sorting the letters, especially the p's and q's which looked alike brought about the saying "minding your p's and q's". Fantastic!
We had a very late lunch at the Waterfront café and as time was again running away from us and we took the ferry back to Opua and headed back to the hostel. There was still a bit we wanted to do in the Bay of islands so another visit will have to be had.
When we got back to the hostel 3 more journeymen (friends of Marcus had arrived). This I'm afraid pushed Robert over the edge of his tolerance and after having a chat about the situation we decided that we would leave in the morning. The whole point of us doing this is to have some good experiences and whilst we know that they can't all, always be good experiences if either of us is no longer happy or enjoying it, then it's time to move on. We would tell Cath & John tomorrow.