Trip Start Jan 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Braeburn Motel

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, February 8, 2010

Haven’t had time to write for a while. There’s more to tell about India, and I’ll try to fill in the gap sometime. I left Varanasi on Jan 31st, for four flights without stopover: Varanasi - Delhi - Mumbai - Hong Kong - Sydney. Stayed two nights in Sydney, but it wasn’t particularly stimulating. I mean, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are spectacular, but once you’ve seen them and taken lots of photos of them (which I did last year), there’s not much else to get excited about.

Flew to Auckland on Feb 4th and stayed two nights: went to MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) which was so-so but has one of only a handful of fully restored Lancasters in the world, and got the ferry across the harbour to Devenport so that I could climb Mount Victoria for the view. Had a lovely tapas dinner at a Latino restaurant served by a friendly girl from Buenos Aires.
Next day I drove north about 160km to Whangarei, a town of no particular note where I stayed one night, and then drove south-east to a peninsular known as Whangarei Heads. Lovely windy road curving in and out of several little bays with small marinas or pleasant beaches, ending with a walk of about 1 1/2 hours around the head to Smugglers Cove, a pretty little sandy beach not unlike its namesake on Tortola.
Continued over the hills to Ngunguru and stumbled on the Braeburn Motel, where I am now, on Whangaumu Bay. The term “motel” in NZ is applied to a variety of accommodations from self-catering cabins to large corporate hotels, but it means that, at a minimum, you get a cooking area with fridge, sink, microwave/hotplate, kettle & toaster, but often includes a full kitchen, and you always get a carton of fresh milk with your key! This particular spot has just three self-catering cabins, each with two bedrooms, living-room and full kitchen, and is in a tiny village of about fifty houses and no stores, on a beautiful sandy beach about four or five hundred meters long, neatly sheltered from the Pacific by a short spit of land. I swam in the clear warm water yesterday; I think it may be the first time I have swam in the sea since Cooper, over a year ago. I drove into Tutukaka about 5 minutes away, and picked up a take-away fish & chips for dinner; yummy.
I planned to stay only one night, but decided to stay for two, and today I went on a 17km coastal hike for 3 1/4 hours, kayaked for 1 3/4 hours (the motel owner even lent me his truck and trailer so I could take the kayak to a more interesting launch site nearby), and then swam for 1/2 hour. I think I have earned my dinner - fish & chips again, and a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc which the motel owner’s wife gave me because the water supply was interrupted for half an hour!
Heading north tomorrow.
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