Friday, 21 April 2017

Exploring Whangarei Heads for Easter

Easter was looking like a bit of a washout with Cyclone Cook threatening to destroy all of our plans.  Deemed “the worst weather event in 68 years” and with the Met Service berating Kiwis for not taking weather warnings seriously enough, we were determined to go away for Easter so we played it safe and booked a cabin rather than a camp spot in case the cyclone came to fruition.  We had the tail end of Cyclone Debbie the week previously with pretty bad flooding and slips causing havoc, so we waited with baited breath for Cook to wreak his wrath.  And waited. And waited….

Clouds but no cyclone cloud

I got sent home early from work as a precautionary measure and took the opportunity to do some grocery shopping , tidy my room and head over to Birkenhead to climb with Morry – a journey that would normally take 40 minutes at 5.30pm took 19 due to everyone escaping earlier on in the day.  Score!

The cyclone came and went in the blink of an eye – there was a little smatter of rain in Auckland and suddenly it was battering the East coast and we carried on our jolly way.  To be honest I was slightly disappointed…I was prepared for my roof blowing off and cows flying around in twisters.

Anyway it meant we could still go away for Easter without the threat of our tents blowing away (unlike New Years!) so we drove up to Whangarei on Friday morning, via a slightly scenic route due to a ton of traffic on SH1.  We drove to Onerahi boat ramp in Whangarei Heads and bartered with the kayak rental guy (I had declined to take my own, for fear of it blowing off in a cyclonic wind) to get $10 off a kayak rental for a few hours.  The island we wanted to explore (Limestone Island) was only 500m from the coast and I resented having to pay $80 to kayak that distance when we could have swam it!   We paddled out and landed on the other side of the island where we were met by Amy and Colin.  We disembarked and went for a wee walk, discovering the remains of an old, abandoned concrete factory.  Amy joked that this was the kiwi version of Angkor Wat and it was fun to jump around on the old relic.  (Old being like maybe 40 years old!) 

Band cover

We also discovered incredibly friendly sheep that I took great joy in petting.

We then did a walk up to the top of the island and back round to our kayaks where we headed back to shore.  Adnaan and I stopped for a dirty dinner of burgers and chips before joining the others at the holiday park where we made friends with Camilla’s childhood friends, Rupert, Myfanwy and Lucy, who were all really nice. They all played a boardgame whilst I semi snoozed on the sofa and then we headed to bed.

In the morning we headed off to Whangarei Heads where we began a 5 hour tramp on the Bream head track to Peach Cove hut.  It was pretty hard going, a) because it was up hill for a lot of it and b) I am pretty unfit right now, having not really done a proper hike since Cape Brett in December. However it was beautiful and we started to have lunch at the top of a nobbly bit of rock that was very scary to climb up as there were no ropes and steep drops to the sea either side.  Then it started to rain so we packed up and had lunch further down the track at Peach Cove, which was a slightly disappointing little bay.

We drove to the supermarket to purchase supplies for the evening – I picked up bottle of wine and told Adnaan to go away as he doesn’t have ID and they’re strict in New Zealand.  He was all ‘ahh nahh it’ll be fine I look old enough’ and lo and behold – we get ID’d and aren’t allowed to purchase the wine. Sigh.  We sent Camilla back in to buy it for us and felt like we were 16 again.

We drove down to Uretiti to camp the night – I have ALWAYS wanted to stay here because the name makes me laugh so much.  However as campsites go it is slightly disappointing – it’s very busy and it’s right by the highway so not that relaxing.  On the plus side, the beach is pretty awesome.  We made a campside dinner and watched the stars (we saw an amazing one that went from bright to dull to bright to dull as it shot across the sky, then nearly collided with another – amazing) then walked down to the beach to watch the moonrise – it was one of those big orange ones.

In the morning we spent a few hours playing in the sea before driving down to Waipu for a coffee.  We meandered home, stopping off at Piroa Falls – I have driven past the sign so many times but never actually stopped, they’re quite cool but not for a day trip, only if you’re passing, and finally stopping at Puhoi for some cheese. 

We miss Ben so we kept a spot open for him

I got home, had a nap, then Adnaan came round and we watched the Lego movie – I was a bit silly and bigged it up to Franzi and Adnaan so of course they were slightly disappointed and didn’t find it as funny as I did the first time round.

The next day Sam, Adnaan and I went to an indian supermarket which was AMAZING – did you know that you can buy eggplant (aubergine) that are round, or long and skinny, not just the normal size we know? They also have a huge spices and flour section where you scoop it up in bulk.  I was amazed.  We ate some indian snacks then stopped off at a Chai shop for more indian snacks and chai, which upset my belly  but tasted amazing. Then I rushed off to the airport to pick up my visitors – Tom and Liz!  Technically they’re not just visitng me, they’re looking at the country as a whole for a holiday but I’ll go with they came all the way to see me :-P  It was SO nice to see them again :)

I picked them up and we went to Devonport where I took them for a walk up a volcano, then we wandered along a beach before heading home where I had another Friend Show and Tell and we ate tacos and swapped stories.  In the morning they walked to work with me which was nice to have the company, and that evening I joined them with Liz's friend Rochelle at her house on the North Shore - they were really nice people and I hope they can be my friends in future!

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