The motel we were in had a kitchen area so we were able to prepare porridge and tea for breakfast. I was also happy as I had woken to the news of a rare Norwich victory this time over Bournemouth.
The weather had also gone up a notch and it was even warmer than other days when we ventured out for the first time.
Our first planned stop today was in Waihi itself. The town was the centre of the gold mining industry in NZ and still has an active gold mine today. We drove to the old quarry which itself is now a tourist attraction. It is a flipping large layered hole in the ground. I couldn’t understand why it had just been left. Why hadn’t they either filled it in or turned it into lake or something? Karen was convinced she could see gold glistening in the side of the quarry but not convinced enough to scramble down and find some nuggets herself.
We then set off in the general direction of our next overnight stay of Whitianga. For the nth day in a row, the road was up and down and round and round. Again in the old tank I was driving it was hard work and repetitive. We made slow progress in the sun. I still cannot believe how poor some of the other drivers are. Apparently there is also a real problem over here with many Asian tourists consistently driving on the wrong side of the road by mistake. The police approach now if seen is apparently to confiscate the car on the spot and to leave the people on the side of the road. Regardless of this I still cannot believe the number of times I have been overtaken on blind bends by drivers on what I assume is the belief that there is so little other traffic.
Eventually we came to a place called Whangamata (which amused me as I thought sounded like Juan Mata the footballer). As we were in no rush, we decided to explore the town and beach. We were glad we did. It had a lovely little street which again reminded Karen of Lanzarote but without the music bars.
We found the beach area and it was rather splendid. A large bay with a wide beach and lots of people trying to surf. The shell count was not high but there were oyster catchers wading as we walked along whilst the tide ebbed and flowed. It was lovely as we walked partly around the bay. We then made our way off the beach and found a cut through to the Main Street. Here we found what seemed to be a popular local cafe and stayed for a while sitting in the warm sunshine to have a drink.
Back at the car we drove to the towns New World supermarket to get some rolls and fruit for our lunch.
There was some real power in the sun as we then resumed our journey. The first place we came across to stop for our picnic lunch was a place called Tairua. This had a beautiful little park overlooking the estuary. Our rolls tasted even better outside with such a lovely view.
The park itself was great. The Kiwis really know how to build terrific outdoor play equipment for kids. They are really inventive and look really good fun. Roll back 40+ years and I would love to have had a go. The boys in their time would have absolutely loved it. I am not sure whether any of it would pass the H&S regulations back home. That is not to say it's not safe and as we watched all the kids playing they seemed to understand and treat any potential danger with respect.
All too soon it was time to move on. We actually arrived at our motel for the night at dead on 2pm which was the earliest we could check in. We had planned to dump our bags and then potentially go out again on the car. However the location of the motel was unbelievable. We had a studio apartment for the night. The lounge area fully faced the bay and was less than 10 meters from the sea itself. It was stunning. As I type this now with the patio doors wide open, I can hear the waves gently lapping onto the beach.
I was also feeling tired today. I’m not sure if it is the driving or the number of different beds I have slept in but there is an underlying tiredness and so I was very glad when Karen suggested that we stay here for the rest of the day just to walk, explore and enjoy. After all what is the point of driving to another beach when we have one feet from our room?
After quickly unpacking what we needed we set out on what was a 10 minute stroll along to the town centre. We choose to walk on the beach. It was shell heaven. I have never seen so many large complete shells in one place. It was bliss and it felt as though we were on holiday again. We walked to the small wharf by which time Karen was craving a cold drink. We found a bustling cafe, bagged the best seats overlooking the sea and had a couple of bottles of Diet Coke. We ended up sitting their enjoying the view and ambience for about a hour before thinking we should explore the rest of the town. By now though it was quite late and most the shops on a Sunday had closed, so we ended up meandering back to the motel.
For dinner tonight we decided to walk back to an Irish Bar which we had spotted next to the cafe we had been in earlier. We had a lovely stroll on the front. The bar was quite full but we found a place to sit which gave us a good view of everyone walking past. Karen had Fish & Chips with a beer whilst I had the House Burger with a glass of NZ Savvy B.
The food was average, the view was much better. I had my first great idea of the day sitting there. We were talking about Neil’s birthday I was wondering what happened to Kissagrams which seemed to have gone out of fashion. Then I thought someone should revive it with Elf-a-grams. This would be based on the film Elf and the premise would be when Buddy first met his real Father and his Father thought he was a Elf-a-gram. Wouldn’t it be great if you could order a tall Elf in real life who could even sing the song that Buddy did in the film. Can you imagine Neil’s little face if we sent an Elf-a-gram to his office on his birthday?
The walk back from Grace O’Mallarys was even better than the walk there as the tide was almost completely out and the sun was going down.
Another lovely day and possibly the most restful for a while as we have some big driving days ahead. As I went outside for a bit looking at the sea I had my second great idea of the day. I think I cannot be the only one who doesn’t really understand how and why tides work. Why not have a series of books for numpties like me that explain in layman’s terms how things work. Not a dummy’s guide as they are too long but maybe in the style of ladybird books but thicker and containing lots of things that adults pretend they understand but don’t. Like I have to confess I have no idea really how or why an engine works or a toilet flushes (I understand the mechanism as I have had to replace them several times - but not the toilet bowl and water levels and and/why it flushes debris away). Also who can honestly give a one sentence description explaining the differences between religions like Baptists, Methodists or the Soul church. How can anyone make an informed decision which one to go to? I think there may be mileage in this idea or maybe I am the only stupid person in the universe.