an update from the land under the 'land down under'

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February 11th 2010
Published: February 11th 2010
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Hello Hello! I have been getting 'heaps' of flack from some of you for not posting more, but it's hard! 😊 Internet is not readily available... or cheap! So be patient with me! I am trying to keep up with myself as well. Plus, I don't want to just write a sentence or two, you know I have to go into unnecessary detail.. 😊

Soooo... back to what feels like a really long time ago. We were in the Bay of Islands and loving it. Scuba diving, exploring, snorkeling, fishing, eating, laughing, sleeping, and doing it all over again. Delwynne and I had mentioned doing the Cape Brett Track earlier in the week, but now we were seriously considering it. It is an 8 hour one way hike, conveniently, on the Cape Brett Peninsula in the Bay of Islands and is, from what we calculated, 18-20 kilometers. The next day, we were going to walk and they boys were going to fish. In preparation for the day ahead, we turned in early for the night. Early rise, and still chilly from the night, we managed to gather our things and head down to the boat. I was still quite bundled up because I knew I would freeze on the boat in the wind. Simply getting to our starting point was incredible.. and by that I mean it was gorgeous and a little bit frightening. Usually people have to walk from our area to the end, spend the night, and then walk the same track back. However, us having a boat allowed us to be dropped off at one end and just walk back home throughout the day. So, the frightening part was seeing what we were about to walk. Up and down, around steep cliff sides, up and down, around, through the bush, up and down, along the ridge. I think we were both a little worried.

Another bonus to this excursion was seeing 'The Hole in the Rock'. At the end of the peninsula, there is an island made of rock, that I'm sure has a name, but it's more commonly known for its 'hole in the rock'. Eliza and I debated taking a cruise out there, but opted not to because it was pretty pricey. Now, a few weeks later, here I am cruising to it on our own little tour. It's a huge hole, caused by waves and water and surely erosion of some sort. We went straight through and marveled at its enormity. Next, the drop off. There wasn't a docking point for us to pull in and get off with ease, no way. Greg managed to slide the boat right up to the rock face that shot straight down into the crystal water. Delwynne and I managed to "chuck" (not chunk) our things overboard and onto the flat rock space, including ourselves. Pushing the boys away, and we were off.. straight up, and I mean straight up, to the lighthouse. When we reached the top, the boys became a tiny speck floating on the water. The water. Amazing. All colors of blue and green you could imagine spreading for miles.

In Maori, the track is called Rakaumangamanga. Yes, I'm serious. How would even I make that up? We cracked ourselves up many times throughout the day trying to pronounce it. Again, I can't explain the views we saw. It was a super clear day so you, literally, could see for miles. I fully understand why the Bay of Island is, in fact, called, 'The Bay of Islands'. That is exactly what it is, and to see it from such a high vantage point was amazing. Most of the track was covered, meaning we were walking through bush. One thing I love about exploring in NZ is not having to worry about any poisonous animals. I think there is one kind of spider that can bite you, but only affects you like a bee sting would... that's it. Well besides sharks and whatnot in the water, but nothing can get you out on the trail. So even if the ground is covered, you still know you're safe. No snakes, nothing.

After walking for about 45 minutes, we had our first break. It was much needed too. To get up to the lighthouse, the track was zigzagged because it was too steep to walk straight up. We sat in the shade and had some water and a few squares of chocolate, but not any chocolate. Remember, I am with a chocoholic family. 😊 Delwynne had energy chocolate, called Scroggin, which I know... doesn't sound nice, but it is. Dark chocolate with nuts and raisins. Yum, and I don't even like dark chocolate. We would walk and break and walk and break. Delwynne would sometimes send me ahead because she felt like she was slowing me down, so she would say stop at the top and we'll meet there. Several times I would have to stop before reaching the ridge because my legs were burning so bad. She would get to me and say she was glad I realized it wasn't worth trying to get to the top, we needed a break. Ha, so although I might have been a little quicker at times, she was right there with me. Once we reached the ridge, again, with the views. It was particularly cool, I thought, to look back towards the lighthouse and see just how far we'd already walked. Usually though, you knew that once you reached the ridge, you had to go back down, and up again to another ridge.. so it was good, yet you also knew what lie ahead.

Our first real stopping point was Deep Water Cove, about an hour or so into the walk. An option was that if we got there, and we didn't want to continue with the rest of the track (another 5 hours of walking) the boys would swing by and pick us up. We reached the cove about an hour before we were supposed to meet the boys. We sat and had another snack, our feet dangling along the edge of a bank and over the clear fish filled water. To swim around and wait on the boys or to suck it up and finish what we started? The latter, of course. Neither of us wanted to get back to camp only to report we didn't achieve the goal, or to hear it from the boys. Oh, and another bonus was that if we walked the whole thing, the boys were to have dinner and drinks waiting for us on our return. 😊 So, we put back on our socks and shoes, and headed back up to the track, and yes, I mean, up to the track. We went past some of the highest and steepest drop offs I've ever seen. Truly, incredible. Being careful all the while. Still, you could see for miles. We were able to spot "Bird Rock", which is, ironically, covered in birds and also colored white so it was easy to see. We thought maybe the boys were there because it is a great fishing spot, and was surrounded by boats.

Part of the track is on privately owned land, Maori land, and you are supposed to pay a track fee for crossing onto it. We, however, did not. I wasn't at all worried about this until I heard voices and carrying on further into the bush.. at the same time remembering the night before, Greg suggested we take some money in case we ran into anybody.. of which, we did not do either. Delwynne said "Be really quiet and let's see if we can get past them"... which made my skin crawl... haha I laugh now thinking about how ridiculous we were. All we could hear were the voices of men, chainsaws, and a guitar. What? I know. That is what I was thinking, plus a bit more! We couldn't really see anything, besides one man in a yellow shirt going back and forth. We still have no idea what was going on in there. We scurried past like little scared mice and made our way out of sight. Whew. Besides stopping for snacks and a million pictures, it took us just over 6 hours. I am so glad we did it too... not many people do it because normally you have to spend the night, but we were the exception, and I loved it. We came to the finish point at Oke Bay and looked around for the boys, but couldn't see them so decided to head on home. When we got to the driveway of the camp we quit walking and ran to the tents and told them how easy it was and all.. of course, only cracking ourselves up... still makes me laugh.. we are so funny.. haha. A cold beer, as promised, was handed to us upon arrival. Dinner (fresh fish from the boys), laughs, and a great sleep weren't too far behind.

To each of our surprise, neither of us were sore the next day. What a relief! I just knew I was going to be walking around like I'd been hit by a bus and Delwynne was going to be fine. It was yet another beautiful day and nothing much was planned, I think in fear of us not being able to function. 😊 Later in the day I rode with Captain Ken and Val over to Urapukapuka Bay (ura pouk a pouk a) to meet some of their friends. The rest of our group cruised over later and we had a few drinks and got to know everybody. It was really fun getting around in boats all the time.

Just before the sun began to set, Greg, Oliver, Smith and I set out for a late fish. We settled somewhat in the middle of the water, surrounded by bays and passing boats. Snapper was the target, and squid was the bait. I have always loved fishing. I was taught by the best, my grandfather Pap. Worm hookin' and fish catchin' was 'our thing' and I know he would've love this. You hook the bait, drop the line and you've got a bite. Best time = biting time. We had so much fun. We caught, who knows how many fish, probably 60 or so. 21 were keepers. The girl on the boat, caught the biggest. 😊 The sun began to set and it shone across the hills, lighting them up to their brightest potential. They were beautiful. It was hard to concentrate on your bait, your fish, and the scenery, but I think I managed pretty well. 😊 We brought them back and had a great, freshest of the fresh, dinner.

Sadly, our last day was upon us. Smith and I helped pack up all the tents, supplies, etc. I forgot, how I don't know, but I forgot to tell you that earlier in the week he thought he would teach me how to drive Chooky. Chooky is a manual and I do not do manuals. I have told him this. I have always wanted to, but just one of those things I've never gotten around to doing. It's not necessary in the States and people over here, or around the world for that matter, don't get it. So... all this time Smith has been doing all the driving... and reminding me all along the way. So, whatever, I was up for it. I thought. I 'drove' (basically rolled) around the campgrounds just playing with the clutch and 'feeling the car'. Keep in mind Smith just learned to drive Chooky about a month and a half ago, so in my book, he's not quite to the top of the teacher poll just yet. I continued to roll around for about twenty minutes, then we took it to the streets. I hope you're as shocked and scared for me as I was.. I hadn't stalled so he thought I could do it. I started sweating before I even got in the car. I did it. I made it to the store, even reversing once, and only almost dying once. It was a success. Then the rest of the week went by, remember I forgot to mention this part earlier, and it was time to leave.

Smith: You're driving
MK: (laughing, and sarcastically replying) OK
Smith: (not laughing)
MK: Wait. Are you serious?
Smith: Yeah, why not.
MK: (starting to freak out) Because I don't know what I'm doing!
Smith: Aw, no you can do it.
MK: (trying to be calm) Ok, but I'm warning you now that I'm probably going to freak out.
Smith laughs

We get in the car, both take deep breaths, I immediately start sweating, and I attempt to pull off.. stalling once before moving even an inch.. now I pull off and wave to the few friends left we met over the week. Now, this is the part were I remind you that I told him I was going to freak out. I pulled out of the drive, around the next corner, and to both of our surprise, and my horror, the freak out. I stalled going up the gravel bit of road. I couldn't get it to go again and the fear of someone coming behind, ahead, hell anything bad happening took over my body. Tears began rolling down my face, and frustration came out of my mouth. Smith was trying to tell me what to do, but also laughing, and it intensified the true fear I had inside. I was completely out of control of the situation and I did not like it. People are always uncomfortable doing something new, and that was definitely the case for me here. I told him I didn't want to do it and he tried to tell me otherwise, that I could. I then told him again I wasn't going to do it. He was now uncomfortable because he realized I broke into tears. haha looking back it is so ridiculous and annoying that I did that, but I was seriously scared and he couldn't see that. So, the next few minutes were a bit awkward as I regained my composure and he sat there, unsure of what to say or do. I apologized, but
Wainui Bay Wainui Bay Wainui Bay

check out that tree
that never is enough, is it? Further down the road, he gave me another chance. Sweat and fear still there, I managed to get us to the small ferry we were to take to the main road. We happened to drive up just as they were loading and the man waved me onward, however, I was so afraid of hitting the next car or even worse, I stopped... we switched and Smith led us safely on board. I know that man thought I was an idiot, but I didn't care. Short ferry, maybe 10 minutes, over and we were back on the road. To this day, I think Smith is still pretty scarred. What can ya do?

Back to more reasonable questions... where to go now, what to do? 😊 We were back on our own. We drove through the more popular points of the Bay of Islands and up to an "other road". The great thing about traveling with Smith was that it didn't matter where we were going.. there was always going to be a place to rest your head, and it was usually somewhere wonderful. We took the other road and landed in a spot called Wainui Bay. There were some other campers there and we asked them if it was Ok to stay there, they said they had no idea, but were anyway.. so, we followed their lead. However, they left the next day and we stayed for 3. It was a beautiful spot. Our tent was under a massive tree that's branches reached the ground. It sort of felt like a bay of all our own. People would come during the day to swim, or snorkel, but at night there was just the ocean in the distance, well, and a few cows around, but you know I loved that. The stars were intensified by the blackness all around. I really wish I could capture a shot of it, but I just can't. We snorkeled, relaxed, wrote, read, and swam. We found a really cool "bath" that would fill with water at high tide, so you could get in it during low tide. The water wasn't like bathwater though.. sadly.. a little chilly for me. I took Chooky for a test drive by myself and only stalled once. I cannot tell you how much better it is to sort of teach yourself once you know the basics. I'm not in any way saying I know how to drive it, but I like it better without the watchful eye and silence of someone who knows where you're going wrong and what you should be doing instead.. ya know? Not that Smith was like that all the time, but for anyone to teach you, it would be that way I presume. We had our snapper from the night before for dinner and it was delicious. I woke up to cows mooing and I seriously thought they were outside our tent they were so loud, not the case though. However, everyday they got out of their fence and wandered into the street and to the next patch... grass is always greener on the other side, right? 😊

Moving along, we headed further north and stopped at Henderson Bay. Wow. It is the most beautiful beach I think I have ever seen. It's off the main road and amazing. If the water were warm or there was any surf, I think we would've stayed for a while. See pics. Greens and blues in the water, white sands, huge puffy clouds in the baby blue sky. You get what I'm saying.

On the way further up, we decided we were going to have spag and meatballs for dinner. What is a meatball without breadcrumbs? So.. see pic of our "toaster".. and believe you me, it worked like a charm! 😊 haha the life of a backpacker. Next stop, sand dunes. The sand dunes Eliza and I never saw because of the pouring rain and foggy fog. I won't successfully describe this to you, but I will try. Sand dunes... HUGE sand dunes. Sand everywhere in every direction all over the place, each tiny piece piling on top of the other, building, creating, these monstrous sand dunes. It's really unbelievable to see. They are soooo high. We walked around the bottoms of them taking pictures for a while and finally ran up. Each time you place your foot in the sand, a little avalanche takes over your foot. I found this to be a bit frightening as I pictured a massive avalanche happening and death by sand. That was not making a pretty picture in my mind... so I ran up it as fast as I could. Running in sand is hard enough, but running in sand that's on a 60 or so degree angle = extreme. Once I reached the top, I had to stop and catch my breath. Sand is being blown so hard that is hurts your shins. Grass, bush and life on one side, immeasurable sand dunes in the middle and ocean on the other. It was awesome. Smith reached the top and I thought was going to die, but he made it through. haha. We ran around and played up there for a bit, taking pics and such, then how to get back down? run? slide? tumble? It was quite scary to look how far down you had to go. Smith took off without hesitation and soon followed... he ran in a zigzag and I went diagonal all the way to catch up. It was really fun, even though they were really bizarre. 😊

Next stop.... drum roll please!!!!! CAPE REINGA!! or as Eliza says (in the worst tone imaginable) "Camp Rainga" hahaha still makes me laugh. Yep, back up to good ole Cape Reinga. I must say.. it is true.. it does exist. I saw it. They do not lie. The weather was great compared to what we witnessed the first go
sand dunessand dunessand dunes

see Smith running down?? kind of see how steep they are!?
round. It was still a bit cold... notice my jacket and hood in the pic, but still had on shorts. Not even close to the story of last time. Last time, I wouldn't have known Eliza was there had we not been side by side. So, I hate to say it E, but it was beautiful. It is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific meet, and you can actually see a 'line' in the water. There are huge waves where they meet and almost two different colors of blue. The lighthouse wasn't anything spectacular in itself, but just being there, sort of feeling like your on the end of the world was awesome.

We stayed at the same campground.. and yet again, I must say... it wasn't anything like the first time. It was packed this time, even had a 'camp manager' there. Showers still had the same look of frozenness, but the bathrooms, wow what an improvement. Even though they were the same sick drop toilets, I could actually go in them, and breathe. I even changed clothes in there a few times. Last time, I couldn't get within 4 feet without gagging. Now back to the
it's really there! it's really there! it's really there!

Cape Reinga Lighthouse
showers.. we left Rawhiti with our last shower on I think a Friday and it was now Tuesday... that's days people... not to mention our clothes have barely changed. Showers were necessary... even if it meant the Taputaputa Bay showers. They are outdoor, which is nice - when its hot outside - however this was not the case. I packed up my shower gear and tried to mentally prepare. Useless. The tops and bottoms are open of the shower, so the wind whirls in and chills you to the bone. The shower head does not move, making the water shoot straight out and onto the back wall, completely missing my head and body, therefore I'm standing up on my tippy toes. The first chill and drop of water was awful. I have everything on the ground next to me and I reach for the shampoo, after its been in the hot car all day, and to my surprise and delight, it's hot. What a discovery! Leave your shampoo and conditioner in the car all day, it heats up, and you get a glimpse of delight in the otherwise unbearably cold afternoon shower. After your body was frozen, the water was
meeting of the watersmeeting of the watersmeeting of the waters

Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean
not so bad. The worst part was drying off.. your standing there trying to get dry, but also freezing throwing on layer up layer of clothing. Smith had a little beanie type fleece hat thing that I think saved me from sickness each night. The walk back to the tent was always blurred from my brain trying to come back to life, but a quick lie down in the car or tent and I was ready for din. haha I just reread what I wrote and it sounds so miserable! It was, I tell you, but I made it through and am so glad it happened as it did! 😊

We camped next to Hunter from CA. We all decided we'd do the hike from our campsite to the lighthouse the next day. Off to bed... Smith woke up in the night to go to the bathroom and within the maybe the 2 minutes or even 1 he was gone, a plethora of mosquitoes made their way into our tent. Here we were, both had a flip flop in hand, smashing the "mossies" against the inside of the tent. Finally, we got them all and back to sleep. It looked like we woke up in a war zone there was so much blood on the inside of the tent. EW! It makes me cringe even thinking about it. It was horrible. I quickly baby wiped the inside of the tent, and hoped they wouldn't be back again that night. (side note: baby wipes=backpacker/camper necessity)

Up and at em, had some breakfast and off to the lighthouse. We thought it was going to take 2 hours, but it took 45 minutes so we decided we'd 'challenge' ourselves and take on another track. Along the mountain, down to the beach, through more sand dunes, through a weird bridge with tall cat tails on either side, up a hill, through a field with cows and sheep, and to the road we went. I thought we seriously were never going to make it out of there, and there I was stranded with these two boys who thought a better option would be to spend the night in a cave, a cave. Really. Ahh.. the road.. we could see it all along, but it was forever away. We were on a path, but we weren't sure if it was the right path or if it were the wrong, if it lead anywhere, or if we were just following something to somewhere that might be nowhere. Get that? Well, we made it.. to the road. Hunter and I were going to try to hitch hike back, but Smith said he was going to walk it, just to say he did. The first car came along and passed us. Remember, the only people that would even think of being here are people who come to see Cape Reinga. There was no fear in me whatsoever about hitch hiking... can you see what I mean? Next car, bingo! We all pile in, Smith included. We were so thankful, none of us realized just how far it was back to camp. The couple that picked us up was, randomly, from Alaska and super nice. Back to camp. Hungry tired and gross. Shower time again... you know how that goes.

I'm leaving you with that! 😊

Take care and speak to you soon! 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 48, Displayed: 39


Cheers!  Cheers!

Delwynne and I after the hike
the fam the fam
the fam

Smith, myself, Delwynne, Greg, and Oliver
Henderson Bay Henderson Bay
Henderson Bay

my favorite beach
"steps" up the sand dunes"steps" up the sand dunes
"steps" up the sand dunes

we made our own paths though... :)
sand dunes sand dunes
sand dunes

my footprints are the ones on the right!
careful! careful!

I'm standing on the ledge of a huge drop off.. yikes.

15th February 2010

CAMP reinga
HA! I just laughed SO hard at the description of the first (God forsaken) time we went there!!! Haven't heard from you in a while...Please call me again and come home soon! We all miss you so! You and Morgan have fun and be so careful! Love you!
18th February 2010

These pics are incredible!!
26th February 2010

Awww! So glad you're having an awesome time!
5th July 2010

Cape Brett walk
I love how you detailed our walk, and thanks for the kind mention of keepin up lol I thought I did pretty well to keep up with your young self, love the photos too. Will keep reading xox
16th December 2010
biggest snapper!

Biggest Snapper
I'd eat that! (Not the fish) ;D

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