Way back on 21st October, it was Hubby's decision to drive along the narrow, dusty, gravel track on the north-eastern side of the Coramandel Peninsula. I make a point of saying His decision because, in the past, I have been accused of navigating him onto some terrible roads.
Today's road was on a bus route. It looked a little like a 'Roy Road' (named after my brother who is brave enough to go where others fear to tread in his quest for motorhome adventures.). Our track wound in and out, up and down along the coastline. Mrs Satnav almost had a nervous breakdown. At one point we appeared to be floating in space, with a large question mark above our vehicle.
Houses were few and far between. Most had the steepest drives imaginable but their views must have been stunning.
There was the occasional heart-stopping moment when the van decided to skid on a bad bend. Nothing that Hubby couldn't handle. Thankfully nothing was coming the other way. Indeed nothing came the other way until we had almost reached a place called Port Charles.
In for a penny, in for a pound, we brave Trekkers drove ever onwards. At last we dropped down to sea level, into an exquisite, little sandy bay called - what else?- Sandy Bay!! The DOC (Department of Conservation) had a free site here. We pulled in and had a good walk around.
A car drew alongside. Three Spaniards and one Basque national (What? - More dreamboats!) pulled alongside. They obviously thought we were locals now Hubby has such a good tan. They wanted to know where to find the nearest petrol station. I half-ran, so as not to further damage the dodgy Achilles, back to the van. Mrs Satnav confirmed that they would have to return to Colville. They decided they had enough to reach their destination, Stony Bay, with sufficient for the return journey. Ola. Hasta la Vista and all that.
We checked out a little rackety bridge with a weight restriction of 75% of Class 1. Not knowing the weight of Class 1, we walked onto the bridge together and thought that if it could hold our weights, it could hold anything.
On our way back to the van, we met Allan Turner. Not the character from Emmerdale Farm. I believe he is deceased. Well, the actor who played him died. I am not sure what they did with his character. He's probably in Spain with Annie Sugden, playing on her maraccas. No, this Allan Turner was the local Environmental Health Officer. His work had brought him out here. We invited him in for a drink. Oh, look at the time. He might as well have lunch too. While we ate, he gave us some tips on places to stay
He suggested we drove over to Stony Bay for the night. As well as being beautiful, we would hear the Morepork there. This bird is named after the noise it makes - More pork. He gave us his card and offered us to 'look him up' if we were ever in town. I put his card in a safe place, so safe that I cannot find it, so will never be able to 'look him up'.
So, on the recommendation of our new acquaintance, we stowed everything away and left the free, freedom site for the unknown Stony Bay. As it turned out, that was an excellent decision. Belonging to DOC, we had to pick up an envelope from the Honesty Box, fill out the details and pay our dues. Where else on Earth could you get a view like this for ten dollars?
We had a choice of sites. Several years ago I visited a clairvoyant. She was very good and many of her predictions have come true. One hasn't. She had been quite insisted we would live at number 42. We looked at the spot we had chosen. Halfway between 42 and 43. We shuffled the van forward a few yards. Number 42, just for Laura-Sue.
We checked out the facilities. It had a 'long drop' toilet which looked like the shed Grandad used in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'. This was slightly upmarket as it had an antiseptic foam hand wash and a twirly air vent. Hubby was most disrespectful, saying that whilst passing wind, I had almost twirled the top off!!
He went for a walk on the beach, while ii went to 'Meet the Warden' (sounds like the name of a games show). He was a jolly fellow, all the way from Croyden UK. His wife was from Oregon US of A. She suggested I contacted DOC and ask them to forward my pass to an address where I could collect it.
They loved their jobs but knew that Labour Day would be a test. It was hard to imagine the hundreds of people who travell all that way on that gravel track.
I returned to Hubby. We considered a three hour trek to the next cove but thought it better to tackle that tomorrow. Instead, we sat back, watching little ducklings waddle by with their mother and father.
We listened to the strange sounds of birds we had never heard before. No sound of 'More Pork' though. Hubby took out his treasured NZ bird book, a gift from his even more treasured daughter. In just one day, he had spotted a Paradise Shellduck, Fantails, Tui, Oyster Catchers, Pukeko, numerous Kingfisher, White-fronted Tern, NZ Pigeon, Whir and Black-Backed Msgpie, Little Egret, Heron, White Faced Heron and a Pied Shag (apologies for the last word. It IS the name of a bird).
I wrote up more blogs, read aloud more adventures of Pirate Pete on Radio Hauraki and started to make the bed. Hubby shouted for me to 'Come outside. Come outside. There's a lovely moon out there!' (Remember that one ??). Not only was there a bright moon, but a brilliant Venus and a myriad of twinkling stars, galaxies and the Universe. One of those heart-stopping moments, made even better when you know you are loved by the person who shared it with you. Later, we snuggled in bed, listening to the waves lapping against the shore and an owl hooting in the night. Peace, perfect peace!!
(Typed up especially for Gordon to read on his UK birthday x)