This was a lovely warm and sunny day. In the later part of the morning we took Suzi into Tauranga. We headed for the boat ramp area beside the port. There was a sea of parked 4-wheel drives with huge trailers, with a couple of motorhomes skulking amongst them. Over the back were enormous towers of containers, some 6-high. Motorhomes are tolerated in the boat park. We chatted to a couple in a small bus who were fairly determined freedom campers. We had some lunch and then walked back to the centre of the city, only a couple of kms away. There was a sign on the road leading into the area advising of a ban on vehicles under 3500kgs from 9pm – 5am. It looks like an attempt at a bylaw outlawing boy-racers. It was reassuring to us planning on staying there overnight. Saturday was downtown day for the jazz festival. There were a number of stages around the streets, with lots of people – mostly set up at street tables of bars and cafes. We met up with Wyn’s grandson and his mum, and had a wander around. Much of the best jazz is at expensive evening concerts, but there was plenty of free stuff in the streets. Some of that was blues and even rock, but nobody minded – it was warm and sunny and there was plenty of beer and wine and food. Among all the people, Wyn even ran into her friend from Thames.
Later we made our way back via the Monmouth Redoubt – a relic of the Land/Maori War of about 1868. Further on we came across the Mission Cemetery, home to quite a few of the casualties of the battles. There was a lovely sunset as we got back to the boat ramp and Suzi. Here we met a couple of our neighbours from the packhouse and enjoyed a drink with them outside in the gathering gloom.
Maybe the Easter bunny was disoriented because we had moved around so much. Maybe she had left her shopping to the last minute as well and been surprised by the shortage. Whatever, there was no marshmallow eggs for us on the doorstep. Luckily we had a hollow one in reserve, made by those lovely enthusiasts in Belgium. I had a bit of an explore, and was fascinated by the apartments next door. There were 4 stories, each with three apartments. Plus underneath there was a drive-in boat garage. This was accessed via a short canal from the estuary. The garage/boat shed was also 4 stories high. The boats were plucked from the water by a big forklift, to be deposited in the appropriate slot at the appropriate level in the wall. And by boats, I don’t mean small runabouts. These included comfortable launches. The garage wasn’t just for the apartment dwellers. It looked like just one of the apartments was occupied. They were not small apartments either, these ones looked huge. I realised that the bridge over the access canal gave access around the estuary to Chapel St, and we took this route back into the city. There were a big new lot of shops on Chapel St but most were closed for the holiday.
There wasn’t much happening at 10am, so we had a coffee down by the harbour. We saw (and heard) the Earthrace boat come into the wharf – this is the biodiesel powered speedboat that set a new record for a speedboat around the world. It was travelling around NZ on a promotional tour, raising money by charging people to go on board. With two massive outriggers, it is an impressive sight – outside. Inside is very confined, plus they have allowed anyone to write on the walls their name and good wishes. So it was a bit like a submarine version of the desks back in my old school days. The colours were lime green and purple and black, with every available bit covered in felt-pen names and good messages. It was all curved and exposed fibreglass or whatever expensive material it is made from. If you imagine Mad Max going speedboat racing, that might be the sort of effect and appearance. Somehow it was weird.
The jazz festival event for the day was at the Historic Village, up the road from the city centre. Buses were free for the day – bless them. So we caught one up to the hospital, and walked down to the nearby Historic Village. The village is a recreated one, sort of a living museum set up as a village. There were several stages and acts going simultaneously. There was a cover charge of $10 for entrance, and it was free from there. Again it was a sunny warm day, and there were lots of people there. There had been talk of a wide variety of food stalls, but in fact there was a serious shortage. There was plenty of wine and beer, and very little food. There were less permanent tables, which meant better opportunities to sit and listen. We enjoyed a very young blues band performing on a veranda. We managed to meet up again with Wyn’s friend.
We moved on along to the main stage, and found a spot to sit in the shade. Luckily we’d bought some food with us. We caught the last bus back at 4.14pm to the city centre, and wandered around there a bit longer. The previous day we’d seen a fish and chip place on the wharf – sort of combined fish market and takeaway. We made our way over there for some snapper and chips which were great. We sat eating them at a table a couple of metres from the fishing boat that probably brought the fish in a couple of hours before. It was a very busy place – always a good sign – and there were lots of orders and staff. One specialised in calling out the numbers of the orders that were ready. Her voice was nasal, high-pitched, and piercing. Even through another room and outside on the wharf there was no missing or escaping her calls. There was no need for a sound system – she was it. If I worked there, I’d need permission to silence her by about the second day. Eventually we retraced our route to our boat-ramp home, and enjoyed another lovely sunset.
This was another fine day – or fine enough. After two perfect days, this one was sunny and cloudy – and still nice and warm. The boats were back launching from first light, and the boat trailer car park was filling quickly. We thought we might walk to the city centre and catch a ferry to Mt Maunganui – a good plan that never came to fruition. We started with a walk further past the boat ramp and past the boat storage yard to the boat marina. Tauranga looks like it might have more boats than houses – and some in the marina more expensive than houses as well. We headed back past our ‘house’ at the boat ramp and along beside the estuary towards town.
The shopping centre was open and busy – it was a holiday shopping day. We went to Briscoes to see if they had any cheap fan heaters for when we are on power in winter – and came out with some handtowels and flannels. And went back in and got a cute little electric fan heater that wasn’t the cheapest but is probably the quietist and the least power hungry – and definitely the cutest. We left our purchases there to pick up later. We were probably the only shoppers there on foot! We went next door to the BBQ Factory and were almost seduced by a Weber Q120 BBQ. They had 20% off, and they do look like very good BBQs, but we decided to sleep on that one. [In the end we figured on persisting with our old Warehouse mongrel even if it does try to blow me up occasionally.]
We finally headed off towards town, and checked out the Mission House on the way. It is a beautiful old house, built in about 1847 or so. It must have seemed like a mansion, they had lived since 1837 on the site in a raupo hut! When we reached the city centre, the day was getting on and it all seemed a bit deserted, especially after all the activity on the streets on the previous two days. I’d seen a jeans shop advertising “up to 50% off” so made a bee-line for there. In establishing just which ones were reduced, the woman mentioned that one pile were only $20. I found a pair that fitted my slightly slimmer self. By my calculations, $50 off $70 jeans is a bit more than 50%. We wandered around more shops with less success and more wear and tear.
Eventually, we had had enough and decided we wanted to be back home with our feet up. Wyn wearily wondered about catching a bus, but it was in the too-hard basket. Except it turned out we were standing beside a shop window with a map of the city bus routes, and were able to work out the bus number we needed. And beside that was a timetable, indicating that the last bus that way on a holiday was 4.14pm. It seemed later, but my watch suggested it was 4.13pm. There was enough time to suggest maybe it wasn’t too late when the bus with our number on it turned the corner 20m from us and stopped beside us. Any thought on whether we were wimps not walking went west rapidly – clearly this bus might as well have had our names on it. The driver wasn’t sure if there was a stop opposite our shopping centre but kindly stopped anyway when there wasn’t. We collected our previous shopping, plus found a new cake tin into the bargain. And from there it wasn’t far back beside the estuary to our boat ramp car park and Suzi. We soon had the kettle on and our feet up.
While checking through our purchases, we worked out that another bigger cake tin could give us a useful roasting dish for our small oven. I remembered that Briscoes had one at their cheap price, and that they were open until 6pm. And heck, it was only 5.45pm, and we were probably only 10 minutes walk away. I had time to grab a tape measure and remeasure the oven, zoom back to the shopping centre and scoot into Briscoes just before they started closing the doors, measure the bigger dishes, zoom through the checkout and back to Suzi, and all before my cup of tea got too cold to drink. And the dish fitted in the oven, with a couple of mm to spare. It was a lucky ending to another lucky day.
Tuesday 14th April – the day after the holidays
We figured there wouldn’t be much activity from the boaties now that the holidays were over. And this was right although there were still a suspicious amount going out fishing. But the activity now came from across the road at the container storage part of the port. Giant forklifts started moving giant containers all over the place at about dawn – well by 8am anyway. Had they no respect? We had no option but to wake up and get up. In fact, I was fascinated watching them zoom around with two giant containers at a time, and stacking and unstacking two at a time from piles already four containers high! Eventually we packed ourselves up, made ourselves ready for the road, and headed off back to Katikati and our evening shift – after almost 6 days off! We’re not getting rich, but we’re also not wearing ourselves out, and it was a great weekend of music in Tauranga.