Ashura666 desired to go diving during his time in Aotearoa New Zealand, so me and Teh Matt decided to come along for the ride, so we turned it into a road trip. We hit State Highway One and headed up to scenic Tutukaka.
(Ha! That sounds so easy, like we didn’t spend a good day panicking because every rental car in Auckland was already rented, but eventually fate smiled on us when a car rental place a block away from Matt’s bachelor pad had a car available.)
Conclusion about the trip from Auckland to Whangarei: Very scenic. Roads not as windy as I expected.
Conclusion about Whangarei: The less said, the better. Pak’n Save was particularly forgettable.
Conclusion about the trip from Whangarei to Tutukaka: Windier than I expected. Ngunguru was very scenic. I still can’t pronounce Ngunguru to a pleasing enough degree.
Conclusion about the accommodation in Tutukaka: Clean and tidy, with splendid views and a delightful piece of folk art made from old wine bottle corks.
Conclusion about dinner at Schnappa Rock: Rather good. Crazy Emma recommended it to us (true), but we would have gone there anyway.
Ashura-san got up early and went diving so Matt and I were lazy arses and slept. When we finally awoke, we drove along the coast and hung out at Sandy Bay, a surf beach. Matt went swimming, while I took some photos along the beach and read “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, because that’s the kind of krazy stuff I do on holiday.
(This omits the part where I got up early to to drive Ashura to the marina, but the car wouldn’t start. It turned out the bumpy road to the cottage had shaken the battery cable loose.)
Fish n chips were acquired from the Ngunguru fish n chip shop. They were all right, but their paua fritters scared me with their greenness.
Matt decided to go out on the boat, leaving me with the car for the day, so I decided to explore historic Northland.
My first stop was Kawakawa, formerly known as Train Town, now known as The One With The Toilet. Yes, I visited the Hundertwasser toilet. It’s all that. I was going to say it’s a pity there isn’t anything more to do in Kawakawa, but maybe it’s a good thing that the loos are the best thing about it.
I continued further up north to Paihia and then Waitangi. I was last in Waitangi about 20 years ago. I went to the Treaty House because, like, that’s the birthplace of the nation.
I’m not sure, but I might have been the only New Zealander amongst the visitors. A quick glance in the visitors book revealed very few mentions of New Zealand.
The Treaty House was kind of strange. Part of the display was dedicated to factoids about the construction of the house itself, but it’s not the house that’s important (and it is a rather unremarkable house – not like Pompalier House across the harbour in Russell, or nearby Kemp House or the Stone Store in Kerikeri). It’s what happened in and around it in 1840 that is. The treaty signing itself happened in a tent, and you don’t see 19th century canvas manufacturing techniques being examined.
I was hoping that the Treaty House would give me some insights as to what it means to be a New Zealander. All it left me was wondering why the house needs to be “restored” every 30 years or so, and what present-day ills would be corrected at the next restoration.
I much preferred the big lawn area over looking the Bay of Island, surrounded by the Treaty House, whare nui, and flagpole. That says something to me about being a New Zealander.
Passing through Whangarei on the way back, I stopped off at the Countdown to get some provisions. I had to end my visit prematurely because I was so grossed out by the suburbanness of the supermarket. The checkout lady wanted me to look at a dress some lady was wearing in the next aisle. It was a really ordinary looking flowery dress. “Mmm, it’s nice,” I said, nausea welling.
On Wednesday night, I saw the Milky Way for the first time ever, and it was magical and special.
One more set of dives for Ashura, so Matt and I again hung out at Sandy Bay, where I read more of “Collapse”.
Ashura, Matt and I all have Canon cameras, so there developed a competitive spirit to take the most excellent holiday snaps. It wasn’t enough to take one picture of a nice sunset. No, we would be mucking around with exposures and making panoramas and comparing results. I think I totally nailed the Tutukaka sunset:
Then it was time to head back down to Auckland. Delightfully, some clever person had skilfully changed a number of Warkworth road signs to read Wankworth. Ha ha!
A splendid few days were had. Of course, I’m still planning on doing a comprehensive exploration of historic Northland, but that’ll be a while off.