This morning was about getting ready to leave which involved me showering two little girls. Alex is really good about getting showered, Elizabeth is not. For the first time this trip we have no idea where we will be staying, it all depends on where we end up at the right time tonight.
We headed out on Highway 10 to start our drive towards Kaitaia. Our plan for today was to find things as they took us with lunch around Manganoui. We had been told we could get good fish and chips there, it was as good as reason as any ! As we headed out we saw signs for a tourist drive to the coast so we decided to follow it. A slight detour took us down a steep and winding road which gave David a chance to try out the engine brakes for the first time. What a treat when we reached the bay, a beautiful and pretty empty beach was ahead of us. Alex was going through a glum patch and was frankly being a pain in the neck. She eventually thawed out and really enjoyed playing in the sand. I think she was sad to leave her new friend behind. I sat and watched the girls and David play. This was Mantaouri beach. The guide book calls it a mini Bay of Islands.
As it was 11:40 we loaded the girls into the van and drove the Manganoui. We had planned to do the scenic drive but missed the turning and ended up back at highway 10. When we got there we parked on the quayside and walked along a pretty front street to a fish and chip shop. We ordered the $20 special which was cooked fresh for us and then David took Alex back to the van as she was having problems with her inner baby. The food was cooked fresh to order and nearly burnt my hands as we walked back to the van. We decided to find a an alternative place to eat and took our takeaway to Coopers beach at the start of Doubtless bay, so named after an entry in Captain Cook's logbook which described it as 'doubtless a bay'. More importantly to the girls it had a fabulous playpark. We had out picnic surrounded by gulls. Alex has now developed a new bird technique consisting of grab a chip, dip it, eat it while running around after the birds. The run is a very specific one designed so she in no way has any chance of catching up with them. It is arms bent and back, legs march as she runs. Elizabeth sings the birds will keep away and when that fails she either calls for Alex or for David to stamp his feet. The girls had a good play on the here and on the beach. The beach was another stunner. I am beginning to see why they are not crowded, after all there are so many to choose from. Elizabeth managed to hurt herself on a piece of wood they were all playing with but it was quickly cured by a hug. When we were on the beach the girls were shown a baby penguin by a gentleman, he had come across it on the beach and had tried to help it out but had kept being washed back into shore. They were now calling the appropriate people to find out what to do with it.
As we left Coopers bay we saw some amazing houses and one in particular caught our eye and that was due to the private helicopter on the lawn. I guess that is the way to do it, live somewhere amazingly beautiful and then when you have to go anywhere else cut out the road and fly. The drive onwards was through some fabulous countryside and periodically there were derelict buildings. They had managed to decay in such a way that on the whole they did not look too bad, other however, managed to look like abandoned buildings in another wise glorious landscape.
At about 3:30 we moved on and drove to the Ancient Kauri Kingdom, disappointed, it was a bit ho hum because of the overpriced tourist tat. The kauri work itself was amazing. When we left we called a couple of campsites and the one that answered got our business and we are now at Ahipara at the bottom of 90mile beach. We arrived not too late and the girls had a play on the swings and trampoline and I said hello to a Danish family we have seen a couple of times but not said hello to before. They are travelling with a 3.5 year old and a 6 month old for 9 weeks in a small camper.
As it was not too late we walked down to 90 mile beach, very impressive ! You are not initially aware of its scale until you realise it goes along the top edge of the horizon too. David was surprised to see the water line was so high and the beach so flat, he feels sure this means the tide comes in at a far old lick.
Dinner was high class eggs and beans which are always best served with cold Sauvignon Blanc.