Friday, January 10, 2014

Spirits Bay or Kapowairua

Jan 6th – 7th
After a nice early breakfast I headed up State Highway 1. Passing through places like Waihopo and Ngataki and deciding to visit 90 Mile Beach to the west and on the east side Henderson Bay on the way back down. Coming across a sign to Lake Waiparera

 I decided to stop and have some lunch. I had noticed that there was a pretty stiff breeze blowing on the drive up but when I got out of the bus to take some pics, I couldn’t believe just how windy it was.


 The waves on the lake were about ½ meter high and white caps everywhere! Still it was a quite peaceful spot for 3 mins and then a car arrived and then a 4wd with a large family arrived and set up for lunches. I was amazed at how different the place was with so many people!
After a lovely salad and salami lunch I headed further north deciding to head straight to Spirits Bay rather than go to Cape Reinga.
So after some lovely windey hilly roads, beautifully sealed and in great condition, I turned off at Waitiki Landing and headed into the east winding my way along a very dusty metal road for 9km and then down towards Spirits Bay or Kapo Wairua. What an amazing place. It is set back from the beach proper, with a couple of hundred yards walk to the beach or a 5 min kayak along the stream

and then a portage across the beach to the Pacific Ocean.

It is a phenomenally rugged piece of our lovely country and this piece is just mind blowingly beautiful.  There is a sacred hill with an amazing rock on it and some burial caves. 

When I booked in to the DOC camp I was told in no uncertain terms that there was to be no climbing of the hill, under any circumstances. She then went on to tell me about the group of drunken fools who thought they were not restrained by any rules or protocols and headed up the hill. They were forcibly evicted from the campsite by local iwi, who I believe gave them a bit of a hiding to remember their stupidity by (unconfirmed). I cannot believe the stupidity of some people!

That aside, I set up camp and headed out with the kayak. I didn’t realise at that point that I had to portage across the beach, as there was no outlet to the stream into the ocean, so I left the wheels back at the launching ramp and then had to drag the kayak some 100 meters, luckily the sand was very soft (or unluckily!) but I got there in the end and headed out for my first sea launch through some quite heavy swells and waves.


A very interesting experience and while I got completely drenched as the waves were crashing over the bow of the kayak and the kayak was completely full of water one moment and the next it is empty!  So I paddled out past the breakers and into the Pacific Ocean. It was an interesting experience paddling off the end of New Zealand. It was very different to going off the coast anywhere else. Just knowing that this is where New Zealand started or ended depending on which way you looked at it, was quite awe inspiring. Then looking back to the huge cliffs and points that make up a wonderfully rugged and inhospitable coastline that is the northern tip of our wonderful Aotearoa, New Zealand.
I put out the fishing line and had a few nibbles but nothing much, was drifting across the bay towards the reef and the point when I had a wonderful strike and was playing a feisty fish. I got it up to the kayak and yes it was a snapper but far from legal! So I kept trying but with no more joy. So I left the line in the water and headed across towards the point more and had a strike that had the line screaming off the reel. After carefully putting up the paddle, I started playing the fish. It was a large something and I played it for about 3 mins (felt like 15 mins) and then it let go. I thought I had lost everything but no, hook and softbait still attached! Didn’t get it close enough to see what it was but was a bit of fun!
I headed back at this point towards the beach for my first surf back to the beach in my kayak and yeha! I made it upright and in one piece! I had carefully put my glasses in the hatch and tied the rod along the side in case I went over but managed to stay upright all the way in. Exhilarating ride!
So after a portage back to the creek I paddled back up to the campsite, vowing to bring the wheels with me next time!
Back at camp There was a knock at the door and a couple were there that recognised the bus from my stopover in Kaikohe, while I had done the bike ride. They had parked at the same POP while they did the ride as well, but were about an hour ahead of me. I can’t remember passing them at all, but must have.  We had a bit of a chat and realised that we were travelling in a similar direction, so would probably catch up a few times before the end of the month.
After dinner I wandered down to the beach with the surf casting rod and tried my hand there, but couldn’t manage to cast out past the breakers, even after going out to my waist in water! Still a bit of fun was had.
The following morning I headed out in the kayak again and headed out to the same place just off the reef and caught another undersized snapper. Then I had a bit of a strike but nothing startling, after reeling in a bit I realised that there was something on the end of the line, it didn’t feel like much excitement down there, but was quite heavy, only ran a couple of times and not that far at all so eventually I saw that it was a much bigger snapper, and remembering what Roger had told me I brought it aboard carefully and put it in my foot well and put my foot on it! On grabbing it through the gills, I measured it on my markers on my tackle box and realised that yippee I had finally landed my first legal fish! Yes I had finally caught a snapper that I could bring back and have for dinner!
I very gingerly figured out how to put it behind me underneath the cover. Hoping that I would not roll over getting back.
I then cast again and had a bit of a nibble but on pulling up the line I went to grab the bait and the hook came off the end of the line! I could not have been luckier to land that fish! So I took that as a sign and hauled in the sea anchor and headed home. Again I managed to survive the waves, upright and intact all the way to the beach! Was very proud of myself!
After cleaning and sorting out my catch I saw a young guy heading down to the water with a kayak with two outriggers. It was a beauty and then he started to step the mast and sort of the rudder and what I thought was a centre board. He had an awesome set of 6 fishing rods of varying sizes set up around the vessel. He then got into a sailing bib and launched the kayak. He then jumped into the boat and sat there, adjusting things and I realised that he was heading outwards without sail or paddle, then I saw his legs moving and realised that he was peddling!

I headed back to camp and put it in the fridge for dinner, deciding to oven bake it with a lemon and some herbs, wrapped in foil.

I then made some lunch and headed off up the beach for a walk. I was dithering whether to do one of the walks to Pandora (3 hours), Tapotupotu (8 hours) or all the way to Cape Reinga (11 hours).

I was considering the Cape Reinga as an overnight trip. But after 1 ½ hours up the beach walking in the soft sand I had had enough! I wasn’t going to do any of them if I had to walk in soft sand. On the return to the campsite I walked on the track and it was almost as bad with soft sand. It was going to be a very exhausting walk to start off with!
I met a lovely man from France who had walked to Pandora and back as I walked back along the track. He was very enthusiastic about New Zealand, the wide open spaces, the beauty and especially the friendly people. “In Europe people are not friendly at all so her it is so refreshing!”
On returning to the bus I decided to go for a swim and headed back to the beach with towel and water bottle. It was cool and very refreshing and the rollers were fun to play in for a while.
That evening was a quiet night and after breakfast I headed out for another fishing expedition but again didn’t catch anything but had fun looking and seeing what was out there. I came across an inflatable that was on their way in, they paused to chat and ask me how long I was going to be out as the weather was changing badly. When I followed them in, I watched then load the boat onto a small trailer and then drag the boat into the creek, trailer and all, start the outboard motor and compete with trailer under the boat, headed up to the launching ramp! Never seen that one, but very clever way of doing it. Local iwi seem to have vehicular access to the beach thorough a locked gate, but us touristy type folks have to make do with shanks pony or some clever ideas!

So tomorrow I will head off to Cape Reinga and possibly stay at Tapotupotu for the night.