Wed 28th October 2015
The dawn broke round the headland to reveal the true beauty of the Motutara Farm Park Baron's beach. A 500m sweep of white sand between rocky headlands backed by Pohutukawa trees - and not another living soul in site!
After an early run on the soft sand we braved the cool waters to snorkel round a rocky outcrop - one sizable fish sighted. Variable oystercatchers and New Zealand Dotterel joined us at the back of the beach. Cold freshwater shower on the hill followed by a hot one in the van having replenished the water stocks.
2 Californian quail sighted by the van.
Another fine breakfast of melon & gold kiwis, followed by scrambled egg on toast with fresh coffee.
We left the site at noon and headed up the coast to the DOC campsite at Otamure bay - appeared well kept and flat behind the beach.
We took a few minutes to walk on the beach, observe the Pied Shag perched on a rock and relaxed on the grass in the dunes in the sun to plan the rest of the day.
Pit stop in Kawakawa to investigate the 'dump station' and view the Hundertwasser toilets - an amazing structure of ceramic and glass on the High St.
Next stop Paihia, the tourist centre for the Bay Of Islands. A speed bump on the way into the car park led to the bottle of Olive oil making a suicide leap from the top cupboard to create a skating rink in the back of the van!
We also discovered that fridges work better when switched on!
Lunch created parked on the front beside the ocean and eaten under the trees.
Our culture for the day was curtailed as the Treaty house & gardens at Waitangi closed on our arrival!
We pushed on to Matauri Bay to inspect the memorial to Rainbow warrier. An impressive monument comprising a stone rainbow- shaped arch decorated with the bronze propellor from the fated ship - on the top of a 70m mound overlooking the channel and beautiful surrounding islands.
Supper was at the Mangonui Fish and Chip Restaurant - supported on stilts over the harbour. We enjoyed Seafood Chowder, Hoki, battered Gurnard taken straight from the wet fish counter, and sweet potato fries - washed down with Earl Grey Tea! Fantastic fresh fish!
As night fell we motored North to reach our next DOC site at Matai bay on the Karikari Peninsula. As darkness fell, Google maps piloted us in down a bumpy gravel track, just in time as the warden was packing up.
She was cheerful enough, suggested we handled the formalities tomorrow morning and waved us vaguely in the direction of the 'upper site'.
Hmmm… We trundled off across the field, acutely aware of illuminating other sleepy looking campers around us with our headlights. What is the correct etiquette for a late arriving camper van? To drive around for a while looking for a quiet uninhabited corner, or pull in at the first opportunity, risking a bad spot or obscuring someone else's view of the sea? We opted for the former and didn't seem to get too much 'stink-eye' from the other campers…
Site selected , first blog draft by B, while K braved a fearsome midgestorm to activate the gas for the brewing of tea…
A mellow evening ensued, there being no incentive to step outside, us having purchased a very fine bottle of 'Old North Road' Sauvignon Blanc' and Bill having acquired a cable to connect our electronics to the van equipment - music!