Friday, January 10, 2014

Te Hapua, onwards to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) and beyond

Jan 8th 9th

So a nice leisurely start to the day cleaning up everything and chatting to the guy with the tri kayak for about an hour.

He was envious of my lifestyle as he was now 40 and starting to think about settling down, finding a wife and having a family. The irony of it was that he has already been living the gypsy lifestyle around the world for years and has been living out of his van for the past few years! A very interesting character, great guy and I wish him all the best for the future!

So heading out of Spirits Bay, I decided to further head down to Te Hapua on the Parengarenga Harbour. As a child I have a memory of being at Parengarenga with my family. We were staying in a bus and there was red dirt around and there was an earthquake. I believed that Dad was working on the local school, but we may have been on holiday.  I figured it was around 1963 and when I hit civilisation it seems that there were two in 1963, one in November and then on Dec 23rd there were two 7 seconds apart. They were both 4.8 magnitude and only 12km deep, near Kaitaia. So I believe that it would have been the Dec 23rd one that I had felt.
So I went down to Te Hapua to see what I could find that triggered my memories. Not much as it seems, but I spoke with a local there who was impressed with The Fredrock Café and when I told him of my mission he was impressed as he had heard about the earthquake but pointed out that the red dirt was further north over the hills. So on the way out I took some pictures of the red dirt and maybe one day I will find out where we were staying.

So from there I headed back out to SH 1 and turned right and headed up to the Cape. It was a beautiful stunning day and the road up to the Cape is beautiful. The road is sealed all the way, well maintained and though very windy and hilly, there was a new vista every corner, with red cliffs, lakes and scrubby fields. Avocado orchards and sheep stations and loads of traffic. On arriving at the car park at top, I couldn’t believe how many people were there! There were hundreds!
I was quite overwhelmed after such semi-solitude for the past few weeks.
Anyway I grabbed my camera and headed off down the pathway to the lighthouse. It was a glorious sight with hundreds of tourists streaming both ways up and down the path, taking photos and chatting away in multiple languages.

It is quite a spiritual area for Maori and for me it was quite strange. I was not sure whether I was feeling uncomfortable because of all the people or for some other reason, but I was feeling like there was someone there who was not that happy that I was there. I did not feel like I was meant to be there for some weird reason, so after taking a few pictures I headed back up to the car park.

The tree on the cliff that the spirits climb down the roots to reach the underworld for their final journey back to Hawaiiki is quite a sight. A single pohutukawa that never flowers, hugging the cliff in lonely isolation.

So back to the car park, amazed at the number of people who totally were ignoring the signs for no eating in the area!
So from there off back down the road and turned left and down, down, down to Tapotupotu Bay and the DOC campsite there.
Looking towards Tapotupotu Bay
It was a slow trip down yet another windy narrow metal road! I now have layers of dust everywhere in the bus, including under the bathroom sink!
The sight that greeted me was wonderful. Typical New Zealand beach in summer scene. Sandy beach, green bush surround and sparkling blue water.

On check in I had a chat to the camp manager and headed down the river a hundred meters and parked facing the river.

A beautiful clean river without the usual discolouration from vegetation that you normally find. I unloaded the kayak and headed out to the creak, only to find my feet sinking into the soft sand up to 10cm deep. Was almost like mud but was all sand! Still got there and launched the kayak and headed back to the shore with the wheels and trudged my way back to the kayak….sinking all the way. So then headed down the creek to the sea, this time I could get all the way there, although the swell and the chop where the creek met the sea was pretty awesome, like a washing machine, but I managed to get through it and out into the ocean again. A lovely bay full of crystal clear water and some huge swells, but little chop. I headed out to the point and drifted for a while fishing, with very little success. A couple of little nibbles but nothing at all of interest. I headed across the bay, past a commercial fishing vessel anchored there and again drifted past them on the way back with little success. Enjoying the time spent on the water and not really minding not actually catching fish. The exercise alone was worth it!
I decided after a couple of hours that I had had enough and headed back in to the beach. I was carefully watching the swells breaking over a group of rocks out in the bay between me and the stream entrance and was carefully timing where and how to get past and onto the right track for entry into the stream. I had timed it perfectly and was heading exactly where I wanted to and the kayak started to go sideways and a swell caught my paddle on the wrong side and the next think I know I am upside down in the tide. Luckily I had put my glasses in the hatch and strapped the fishing rod to the side of the kayak. Lucking I was only in about three feet of water so I righted the kayak, made sure that everything was still secure and leapt back aboard, paddling like a maniac and headed up the creek. Was ok for the first 5 meters of so but then it narrowed and I found that I couldn’t paddle hard enough to move forward. So here I was paddling my hardest and sitting still in the current! So I gently eased over to the edge and tried getting out but had to go backwards until I could control things without the raging current! So after dragging the kayak up through the rapidly flowing water for about 100 metres I got back in and managed to paddle my way back up to the bus. I decided to heard further up the creek where the beach was narrower thus lessening the amount to walking I had to do through the soft sand. I was greeted by two young Maori boys who wanted to know what I was doing, how I was doing it and was I having fun. They were all of 5-6 years old. I headed back and grabbed the wheels and loaded the kayak and wheeled it back to the bus. On approaching the bus I was met by a gentleman who asked me about the kayak loader and how I managed it all. He explained that he was “A Yank” (I could never have guessed, the accent was a bit of a giveaway) and he was into canoeing in the states and was intrigued by what he saw. It turns out that he and his lovely wife had run white water canoeing trips in their hometown which I believe is in the north east somewhere. I shall have to find a way of remembering people’s names where they are from!
Anyway we had a chat and I showed him how it worked and loaded the kayak on and off for him. He objected when I started to take it down, but explained to him that I didn’t want it sitting up there salty, so I had to wash it down anyway. His wife asked if she could please have a few inches of fishing line to enable her to mend their mosquito netting which was just net curtains, but it was unravelling so needed mending. I offered her my spare set of fly screens but they were the wrong size and shape so I gave them a couple of mosquito patches that I had to tide them over until they could get something better. We ended up having a wonderful evening with apple, cheese and crackers and a lovely bottle of Mud House Sauvignon Blanc that was marvellous. This was their third three month trip around New Zealand and they were in a self-contained little Hilux type vehicle. She was complaining about the They were telling me about the wonderful people that they have met over the years on their travels and how they were heading downwards to the Wairarapa to catch up with some friends before heading over to the South Island. They travel different routes each time they come here and do different things, like breakfast at Carrington’s on the Karikari Peninsular and then peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the beach for lunch! I ended up finding a couple of mosquito patches that I had and gave them to them until They were a lovely couple and it was a pleasure to meet them and spend some interesting hours with them.
He was on cooking duty and was going to do an omelette for dinner which I thought was a marvellous idea so had one myself, though it was more scrambled than omelette, but full of all sorts of stuff from the garden and fridge.
It rained quite heavily overnight and I had left my chair outside so it was soaking wet. I managed to get the kayak washed down at the tap rather than use my water which was good, hung everything under the awning to dry as the sun was shining and decided to go on a tramp across to Cape Reinga, a three hour trip and back. I packed up some lunch, water bottles into my large bum bag and set off. It was a huge climb out of the bay up onto the cliffs above the sea and it was amazingly steep down to the rocks below.

As I climbed further up the weather started to pack up and I saw the most amazing thunderstorm hit the bay I had just left, coming from across the hills.

The thunder was amazing rolling across the valley. I was missing the rain as it was so localised and it looked like I was going to be ok. I met a couple who were stopping to put on their wet weather gear and they asked me what I thought. I said that I thought that the weather was passing to the south of us and that we would probably miss the worst of it. I said that I could be wrong, but that it had been 1973 since the last time I was wrong and they laughed and I moved off. About 20 mins later I crested the top of the hill and there before me was horrible weather coming directly at me from the west! The temperature dropped quickly and even though I was about half way to the cape I decided that I had better turn around as I was not prepared for this severe weather. I didn’t have sufficient warm clothes so decided to return to Tapotupotu Bay and head out. A very wise decision! I passed the couple about 10 mins later and they laughed when I said that I could not have been more wrong. At this point they still couldn’t see what was coming over the hill, but were well prepared.
After a very wet, soggy, slippery trip back down to the beach I was grateful that I had made the right decision as I was very wet and cold by the time I got back to the bus. So I before I got changed I pack up everything, moved the bus off the levelling blocks and then changed and got warm again and headed slowly up the hill to SH 1 again. The weather was amazingly different to the weather I had arrived in and the steady rain was quite difficult to drive into. I paused to make a coffee and work out where I would head for at one of the rest areas and the couple that I had seen at Spirits Bay motored past and honked as I waved at them. Amazingly how easy it is to start to identify different vehicles and the people in them!
From there I turned off to have a quick look at the Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes.
I wended my way down the road in the drizzle, avoiding the 90 Mile Bus tours coming out and at one point pulled over to let a car through. On arrival at the sand dunes I parked next to the car that had passed me and as I got out I heard a voice saying “nice set up you have there mate!” I then had a bit of a chat to a young couple about the set up and what I was up to. Again they expressed their envy but were on their way to achieve the same thing. They were off to go surf the dunes but as it was still raining I just took some pictures and headed back out.

After a stock up at Pak n Save in Kaitaia, a gas fill and a diesel fill at Caltex, I headed back to Awanui and then headed east to a little fishing wharf at Unahi Reserve for the night.

There were three fishing boats tied up there as well as a refrigerated truck, a lot of drinking and laughter happening and not much work going on!  There was also two rather large motorhome there as well. Both around 11 meters long, both towing small 4WD’s behind. One of them had a rear overhand that was about the length of The Fredrock Café! The two drivers were on the wharf, one fishing and when I wandered over to chat they were quite reserved, so I moved on and started to catch up on the blog. I managed to get some Facebook catch-ups done and answered some texts that had come in on the way out but couldn’t get the T-stick to pull in enough juice to connect! So next time I’m in civilisation I will upload things…..
There was a bit of traffic in and out for a while as one of the fishing boats loaded crew and departed, but before it did one of the crew arrived and then after some loud words headed back to the car and headed out again. About 15 mins later he returned with what he had left behind and the boat left the wharf shortly thereafter.
The evening was rather interesting as the wind was blowing a gale, so bad that the bus was swaying to the music. I thought I was protected by the old building that I was parked beside, but every so often the bus would sway, not so gently! I could see the long grass lying flat in the gusts. I saw a wonderful sight shortly before sunset when a flock of herons, grey, white and spoonbills flew in to roost in the trees just down from where I had parked, an amazing sight but duh!... didn’t get the camera out, just gawked at them. Must learn to grab the camera or carry it with me at all times.
The wind died down in the early morning and I awoke to a lovely clear morning as still as a mill pond in the Rangaunu Harbour. 

After a quick breakfast I headed off towards Karikari Peninsular towards Maitai Bay and the DOC campsite there.

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