Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Last Days in Beautiful New Zealand

Days pass so quickly that blogging takes too much time to do well. I haven't added much in 4 days.
At Mystery Creek we found a small 10 acre farm and Motel, owned by Kees's distant cousins. Kees called ahead , and luckily, Henk and Lieda denHartigh welcomed us for a visit. We stayed overnight in one of their comfortable motel units and spent several hours swapping stories. Gina really impressed wee one year old Sasha, one of their grandchildren. She was a cutie! The six dairy cows, which gave excellent milk, were also very interested in Gina, while I was more enthralled with the gardens. The denHartighs were lovely hosts and asked us to stay longer, but we had only 3 days left in NZ, and miles to go. The next morning we headed off to the Coramandel Peninsula northeast of Auckland, leaving our new friends behind.The drive took longer than expected, not that we hurried. We stopped for a break at a small shop where Gina could have an ice cream and see some animals, like strange chickens and a very cute baby llama. Onwards, after a wrong turn and some backtracking, we found The Crazy Cow Cafe' and had to sample their wares. We stopped at a small winery as well, nestled in a valley as we went through a mountain pass. Should have investigated that area more, as we learned later that there were interesting bike trails through tunnels and past waterfalls in that region. We pushed on and drove through many more dizzying switchbacks to find the mining town of -----?-----, where over 100 years of excavating for gold had created an open pit gold mine of nearly a kilometer down and the same across. Huge dumptrucks and cranes appeared ant-sized from across the crater, working to fill truckloads of rock to be crushed. Each massive truckload still produced at least one ounce of gold, currently valued at $1600.00 per oz. I wish we had spent more time to learn all about it at the visitor center, but the day was drawing to a close and we had many kilometers of serpentine road to cover before finding somewhere to sleep.
We headed east on some of the most twisted roads ever and pulled up to Wahia, a stunning beach with surf suitable for big boards. It was close to dinner time, and the lifeguards were using a dune buggy to move their elevated chair back from the incoming tide. We walked out some of the travel stiffness, too intimidated by crashing surf to attempt a frolic in the chilly sea. Kees went straight for the beach club to quench his thirst and chat up the locals. We were directed to the next town up the coast, Whangamatta(?) which proved to have an even more impressive beach. That night and the next we settled our travel weary selves in a beautiful B& B. We had the entire house to ourselves, next to the host's home. Gorgeous beach strolls, lazy sleep-ins, gentle weather and time to email or enjoy a book were all treats we indulged in. Takeaway butter chicken that night was yum, but next day we cooked fresh fish and enjoyed making our own salads for a change. Who knew I would tire of eating out so much? After a couple of days just relaxing at this pretty beach town, we had to push our reluctant butts back into travel mode and head to the Auckland airport for departure.
New Zealand has so much more to offer than one can cover in a week! We knew that, but gave it all the time we could. It is such a beautiful part of the world that Kees thinks we should aim to retire there. I think he's on to something!

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