We left Whangaparoa and were headed further north to the Coromandel; more specifically Whitianga (pronounced Fitty-onga). The drive was supposed to take 3 hours. However, as we drew within 40 minutes of the town, we came to a road block and a state worker wearing govt. issue orange road gear. She informed us that the road ahead was closed due to flooding. We were 20 minutes from our destination and had no choice but to turn around. We considered turning toward a neighboring town, but decided against it; we would later find out that we had made the right decision as it too was flooded and we would’ve gotten trapped there. So we were faced with several more hours of driving.
I took a snooze along the way and woke up to some good news: Cassie had procured a new AirBnB near Awakino, outside of Mokau. On top of that we were reimbursed for our rental in Whitianga due to the rain.
We pulled into the Awakino area, found a roadside bar where we got beers and burgers and raised our spirits. Cassie had directions to our new rental and we made for it. We arrived and found a nice farm-style house. All the luxuries one needs plus an outdoor fire-heated tub. There was a strange collection of movies on dvd to watch and settled on Land of the Lost, which was pretty strange.
The next morning, Cassie fried a couple of eggs and heated some of the mini-pancakes that Janice had sent with us. We sat idly and sipped coffee. We hung around the house, I caught up in my journal while Cassie worked on reviews for the AirBnB’s that we had stayed at so far. Our main objective for the day was to head to New Plymouth, hit up a grocery store for fajita makings for later, steaks and ingredients for bacon + jalapeño poppers for that night. Beyond that we planned to go play on the beach in that area. On our drive to the neighboring town, we looked out at the ocean and saw an access turnoff and decided to stop and walk around.
The Beach was named The Three Sisters, for the 3 sandstone formations cut away from the land by erosion. One structure had a hole cut through it large enough to walk through. We walked about and took photos. The sun played across the sharp features making for some beautifully dramatic pictures.
There were amazing structures and caves to explore.
It’s an amazing black-sand beach.
When the tide started coming in, we knew that it was time to leave. On our way back to the car, we found some mussels attached to the rocks. We pried several off to cook later with dinner. Cassie has alway been a can-do, adventurous chef.
We continued down the road and saw a sign for a brewery; we quickly decided that we both wanted to stop. It was a cool place; it had the feel of an old farm on a nice plot of land.
We ordered a small plate of chicken wings and sipped our beers. There was a couple of guys sitting near us and we struck up a conversation. They told us that they were bee-keepers and they were taking the day off. We chatted awhile, finished our beers and got back on the road.
We pulled into a small town between our AirBnB and New Plymouth and visited a couple of grocery stores. We were unable to find jalapeños for dinner so we kept looking. After a few more stops and no luck, Cassie said that she had a new plan for the poppers, so we grabbed some steaks and the rest of our supplies and headed back to the house. We ended up with a jar of pickled jalapeños that she would mix with cream cheese and wrap that in bacon. It was very tasty.
Cassie made a delicious meal for us. We sipped white wine, Heinekens, and watched episodes of Seinfeld that I had on my computer. We got to bed and tried to plan out some activities for the next day.
On Friday 10th, we spent most of the day indoors. The weather had been crummy for several days. The rain that made the roads impassable a few days before had put a damper on the adventure plans.
In the morning, we had coffee and breakfast and tried to figure out what to do with the day. Cassie reached out to fishing vessels and some people/companies that provide surfing lessons. We missed our chance in the morning to hop a ship for fishing, and the surf instructor said the waves weren’t good and he wouldn’t be taking anyone out. So we were pretty much stuck at home with no plan of action.
We still had beer and some vodka though, and I suggested we clear the kitchen table, grab some coffee cups and play beer pong. Despite the lack of a few common household items, such as a pasta strainer and normal bleach, we did find a couple of ping-pong balls to play with. Instead of the usual 10 cups on each end, we used 4 and put a bit of water in the bottom to keep the ball from bouncing out. We were both pretty out of practice and each game took quite awhile to complete. In the end, Cassie mopped the floor with me by winning all 4 games. The loser had to make a shot comprised of the pickling juice from the jar of jalapeños and mix it with vodka. I downed it quick, and it wasn’t too bad. We were just about out of drinks at this point and needed more for the evening.
The bee-keepers, from the day before, had mentioned a small café in Mokau that serves “whitebait fritters.” Whitebait are little white fish about an inch and a half long. They’re a local delicacy. Cassie had had them at a fancy restaurant in the city and wanted to introduce me to it. So we made our way into town and found the spot. We ordered 2 long-black coffees, a large whitebait fritter and some fries (chips/chups)to share.
When the food came, we were both a bit surprised: the fritter was more of an omelet. It wasn’t what we understood a fritter to be. We could see the little white fish within the eggs, it was served with a couple of pieces of toast. When I picture a fritter, I think of apple fritters which are fried pastries. When I looked up the definition of the word, it describes a piece of fruit or meat that is battered and then fried. So I’m not sure why this fish omelet is labeled a fritter…anyway.
After our lunch, we thought it a good idea to play at the beach before heading back. We had stopped at a turnout a few days prior and went looking for it. A couple of wrong turns later we found it. We pulled on the wetsuits that Cassie had borrowed from the nan-fam and headed toward the water. The sky was grey and gloomy and it was lightly raining. We had brought the boogie-board along to catch some waves.
I walked out into the waves, the water was cold, and Cassie kept telling me not to go out too far. She worries about riptides and being pulled out to sea. I waded out farther to get to the area where the waves were breaking. I could touch the bottom the whole time and was up to my waist. Before long, I looked back at Cassie and she was quite a ways away. She was yelling something, but I couldn’t hear her over the sea. She told me later that she had been yelling for me to come back in, that I was out too far, and that she could barely see me over the waves.
At this point, I started trying to catch some waves and slide into shore. I couldn’t tell if I was moving in or being pulled out. I extended my feet to the ocean floor, but it was getting too deep. I started to panic. I kept hold of the boogie-board and kicked with my feet, but I couldn’t tell if it was doing anything. I held the board with one hand and tried paddling with the other. I was scared at this point. I could see Cassie, she was calling to me. I yelled back asking for help. I had a floatation device though and she didn’t; it wasn’t safe for her to come out.
I kept trying to get my feet on the ground. Eventually I could touch and could walk in. I was exhausted. Cassie and I talked about the ordeal. Then she wanted to go out. I told her to be careful and not go out too far. She played awhile before we loaded back up and headed to the house.
We finished the evening by relaxing and taking in The Mighty Boosh. The next day, we would be going back to Auckland.
On Sunday the 12th, we drove back to the city in the pouring rain. We stopped in one town to look around and get a beer. I can’t recall what town it was and I didn’t write it in my journal. We found a tasting room that was more like an indoor patio area between various shops. Good beer and lovely company.
The drive back to the city took about 4 hours, but it went by pretty fast. We had dinner plans with Sue and Shalvin at 7:00, but we were arriving back to the city around 2:30. With time before dinner we decided to go bowling. After Cassie and I dropped our things at the house, we headed downtown to return our rented car. From there we walked to MetroLanes. We played a couple of games and Sue bought us all drinks (thanks Sue). It was a good time. Then it was off to dinner. We went to Cassie and Sue’s preffered Chinese restaurant for dumplings. Very good food. The pano didn’t work too well, but it’s just for the memories.
And with that, we finished the evening. Sue dropped us off, I said my goodbyes to her and Shalvin as I would be leaving in a couple of days and wouldn’t see them again until they come up to Montana. Hope it’s soon.
I’ll conclude my trip in my next post. I had another day to myself walking around the city and took snapshots of my wandering around the metro area.
Thanks for reading.