When I was growing up, most maps of the world were Mercator Projection. It made the UK look really big and important. Greenland was the same size as Africa. Australia loomed large and pink, the home to an aunt (I later found out there were two aunts and their families) and a place of extreme mystery. In the bottom right hand corner of the map, there was a little pink semi-colon. Later on, we would come to think of New Zealand as Australia’s poor little next-door neighbour.
This, the Land of the Long White Cloud, has hosted entertained us for two months, and we love it. Everywhere we go, the views are stunning, the Sun is in the sky: why oh why would I wanna be anywhere else? Yes, we missed Lily Allen in concert in Auckland last weekend, but the song must have been in the air somehow.
Our final three days in New Zealand are coming to an end. As ever, we know we’re moving on very soon and we know we’ll be homesick for the old place for a short while. This, despite the rain. Yes, it actually rained over night and into the day. But people have been talking about a drought here and we even saw the unusual spectacle of a golf course where the greens had been allowed to turn brown.
We returned to Coromandel Town, partly because that’s where the nearest Post Office is located, inside a supermarket and sharing its counter with a bank. Also, it’s the only way to visit Thames: there aren’t many roads to choose from.
On the way, we saw a whole flock of oystercatchers on a beach. Beaches on this, west, side of the Peninsula are mainly rocks and stones, whereas those on the east side have all been sandy.
We had lunch in Thames at a place run by a couple from Melbourne.
We’ll get to the real Melbourne very soon.
I had to see the River Thames, so named by James Cook because it reminded him of London’s River Thames. It was wide and had water in it, but there was nothing like a St Paul’s Cathedral next to it, nor a QE2 Bridge over it.
We decided to drive back home continuing in an anti-clockwise direction around the Peninsula. One of the main attractions here is the high point, The Pinnacles. We saw these high, almost vertical rocks from a distance but because of the road conditions, we weren’t able to get too close. There are plenty of walking and hiking trails, some of which take several hours, or even days. The old kauri forest would have been a fantastic sight, can’t wait to see the newly planted trees in a couple of thousand years time.
On the other hand, the view from one pull-out (layby) was obscured by trees which I thought was slightly ironic.
Sometimes, I’m quick enough to take a photo of an exotic bird, and even though she was driving, Liesel spotted this heron before I did. It watched me watching it but cooperated by not flying away.
We ended up back at our local beach, Whangapoua. As we did the following day. The weather conditions could not have been more different for our two visits.
We walked along the beach and made friends with a dotterel and her two chicks. They’re very wary of people (quite right) but they have no speed between standing still and running at 90mph: even the baby!
This Island still looks more like a whale to me than a lump of pumice, but as they didn’t invite me to join the naming committee, I guess we’re stuck with Pungapunga.
I was hoping to make some new friends at New Chum Beach. I waded through the Pungapunga River as it flowed across the beach, that was OK. Not so good were the rocks that formed the route to Wainuiototo, especially as I was wearing flip-flops. I tried going barefoot, but the rocks were round and a bit slippery. New Chum Beach will have to wait until next time.
On the way back, I was pleased to bump into my old friend, the dotterel chick from yesterday.
There were a few people swimming in the sea… well, being bumped about by the waves. But one guy was having a great time kite-surfing.
And we found out what happened to the ozone layer above New Zealand. The kite-surfer was using it.
After walking the length of the beach and back, I found this lady sitting on the beach.
On request, I went to the local shop to buy us ice lollies. It’s got to the time now where we’re trying to spend all our New Zealand coins.
We drove back to the b&b for the final time, unloaded everything from the car, wondered how we’re going to fit it all into our bags and moved on to something else.
One thing we miss in the car is Billy Connelly’s voice coming from the GPS (satnav). The Google lady gets it wrong sometimes, getting her left and right mixed up sometimes. One place she took us to was totally wrong too. When required, Billy tells us to do a U-turn when we can. Google just recalculates a whole new route, which might entail a U-turn eventually, but it might be a long way off.
Music news coming up… not for everyone.
One more thing we won’t do before we leave NZ is to reach the end of the music on my device, which we’re still playing in alphabetical order by song title. No Zs before the end of NZ.
We’re in the Ms right now but should make significant progress tomorrow on our nearly 3-hour drive to drop the car off at Auckland Airport.
The first few Ks were all Hawaiian, Ka something. Ms include Mary, Mathilde and Matilda. We’ve had some surprise Christmas songs too, which I’d forgotten were there: Let it Snow, Let it Snow and Mele Kalikimaka for example. Four, yes, four different versions of Life on Mars? were followed by Life on the Moon!
We need a wider selection: we have no Crowded House, to name but one kiwi band. And we’re about to split NZ too.