I woke up at 7.30am on Tuesday to the sound of lots of traffic on the one way bridge next to where we were staying and knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep easily. The bridge is on SH 10, the scenic route from Bay of Islands to Kaitaia, and very busy in the mornings. Ross was already up downloading photos onto the computer. Staying in bed for a while reading my book seemed a good idea. I am currently reading ‘The Liars’Club’ a memoir by Mary Karr. It’s set in the early 1960’s in a Texas oil refinery town and she writes about her early childhood living with alcoholic parents and a mad puritanical Grandmother. The story gets a bit harrowing at times but somehow she tells the story with humour, honesty, lack of self pity and with love for her family. It is quite a powerful book which will stay with me for awhile.
On with the day. It is to be an exploring day in the car. It certainly was a lovely day for it. We set off for Mangonui, about 15 minutes away, to call into the Information Centre that had been closed the day before. We wanted a map of the Heritage trail of the town . We ended up leaving empty handed. We decided we’d try the other cafe; this time for the carrot cake and coffee. It was certainly a generous slice which we shared sitting outside in the sun.
Our main destination for the day was Taupo Bay about 20 kms away. It was quite a winding road but all sealed. There is a Motor Camp there, nobody seemed to be there, quite a few holiday homes but there didn’t seem to be any people around. On the right of the bay are spectacular volcanic cliffs towering over the bay. We headed off to the left as it was low tide and there were lots of low rock shelves to walk around and we found we were able to go quite a way. With the binoculars, we were able to see Tauranga Bay, our next destination.
It was around this point, almost straight in front of me, I saw an Orca whale come out of the water and disappear again. I yelled out to Ross and started running towards the edge of the rocks to get a better view point. It was a pretty exciting adrenalin moment. This was the first whale I had seen. I was busy trying to follow it around the bay with the binoculars and Ross was making a movie on the camera. We watched if for as long as we could. By the time we got back to the car to have lunch, it was 3pm. The lady sitting on the seat along from us starting pointing out to sea to six whales swimming out around the rocks where we had been before. What a special moment to be able to watch them again.
We finally left Taupo Bay around 4pm and headed over to Hihi (opposite Mangonui). We had wanted to viist the Butler Point Whaling Museum but it was only open by appointment which seemed too much trouble to organise. Then back to Mangonui as a cold beer was fast becoming a good idea. We had planned to have the “World Famous” fish and chips but the timing was wrong and we had not long ago had lunch. There were a couple of busloads of tourists that had been to Cape Reinga and the place was quite busy. We often joke that we are the only tourists in Northland as we are often the only people at the tourist attractions. We decided to give it a miss and check out the Taipa Resort Hotel Bar situated on the beach at the end of our road.
No one was there but they put on lights, heating and T.V. and made us very welcome. The beer was really refreshing and went down well with the bowl of potato chips and dip we were treated to by the friendly barmaid. It was a lovely way to reflect on the day and our good fortune.
Wyn – I too marvel at how people who have had horrendous childhoods come out with no self-pity and many with such loving hearts. Makes me want to live life with more gusto when I read and hear stories that you described. Excellent writing you two 🙂 Hey thought of being travel writers – could be a good income source 🙂
My brother has had some amazing experiences with whales while out surfing – Les of course saw many when deep sea fishing – I seen a few from the beach but not up close.