'The Winterless North'..

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
The Pipi Patch

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, September 29, 2004

So it was up early this morning and outside Base where we piled in to the back of a seated 'Tranny Van' to head up to the Winterless North. 'Chops' did us the honour of driving us up there. He was as enthusiastic and passionate about his country as Nate - his mate!

We stopped of in Warkworth for a quick coffee where we sorted out our tickets and arranged which backpackers to stay in and the meal on the night. I had opted to stay at the 'Pipi Patch' which was holding an outdoor barbeque that evening.

Then it was over to Goat Island at Bream Bay to look at the crystal clear waters and the fish that swam in them. The scenery there was just stunning and the water impeccably clear. We then drove round the coast over to the white sands of the Pakiri Beach to do a spot of horse riding, a big first for me.

I was fortunate enough to accompany 'George', a horse as white as the sands on which we rode and with enough flatulence to match the breeze of the Pacific air which was gently blowing our way. The scenery was just 'to die for'. We rode along the white sands looking at the magnificent views of the Hen & Chicken Islands (shaped just like the heads of partially immersed crocodiles). In the distance you could also see the Little Barrier Island with the Great Barrier Island looming behind it in the distance.

I really couldn't believe the beauty of this place. It didn't seem at all real. The ocean looked as if there were trillions of diamonds scattered across the surface, the sands really were white and the sky was perfectly clear. I can honestly say I've not seen 'blue' like I have seen it today. It was just like a picture you would create in your mind of the perfect beach, not something you would find in reality. The best of it is, and so everyone keeps telling me - it's only going to get better!

The horse ride was thoroughly enjoyable for my first time, and I did manage to get a picture of George and me without falling off. Thank you George.

After a quick stop off at Langs beach for lunch and a good 'head-lolling' sleep on the bus up to Paihia, we finally arrived at the Pipi Patch.

During the long journey up here I'd been looking out of the window at the scenery sliding past the window and had started thinking how glad I was to be moving on from Auckland. Not that there's anything wrong with Auckland of course - it's a beautiful city, and there are still parts I intend to visit when I return. But it's still a city. I had stayed there for longer than I had planned because of the BB meet up and had started to get settled. The journey up here had made me realise what I was here for and after viewing some of the stunning countryside I had started to get really excited about what was to follow.

I got settled in fairly quickly and met my new 'roomies' after a brief walk around the village and a look out over the bay. It had gone quite chilly outside so I got fleeced up and headed down to the outdoor BBQ beside the bar. I sat outside and tucked in to a nice marinated steak with Es and 'Denise' who had travelled up on the same bus, then went inside. The bar was very dimly lit with candlelight but was warm, inviting and had a very friendly atmoshpere.

I finished my drink and decided to go back to the dorm to turn in and catch up on some sleep - I had got an early start in the morning as we were heading up to Cape Reinga in the far North. I walked outside, looked up and there it was - The Southern Cross, sitting there with it's twinkly neighbours. I was just in awe. This felt just like one of those cold, starry nights on Horombo wrapped up tightly with a red nose and misty breath, looking over the ocean of cloud below freezing cold but with a warm glow inside.

There is something reassuringly comforting about being huddled in a hut full of people wrapped up warm, indulging in a candlelit feast of 'basic food' while you share the wonder of being so insignificant in such an overpowering environment. Even without power or electricity the place would be buzzing like a medieval banquet. It's a feeling so hard to explain.

Well tonight was the first night I had got a glimmer of that wonderful feeling again - not because I was in an overpowering environment, just that I was stood alone outside looking up at the stars, everyone else cheery in the cosy warm bar behind me. I was just having one last look at the stars before going to bed. And they were just magnificent.

I looked back in to the candlelit bar - the hum of voices and smiles on faces, then back up at the stars. The feeling was quite overwhelming. It was all real now, like I was on a proper adventure - my real journey had begun. I felt alive again like before, like I did on the slopes of Horombo looking up at the stars then looking back in at the hussle and bussle of the trekkers banquet. I had got a little of that 'fire' back. This was what I had been looking for ever since Kili - this is what I had come for.

I haven't seen much of Paihia since arriving but I already know that I will like it here. It's got a 'feel' about it that I have instantly warmed to.
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