Kaitaia, Far North
Just a quick update from Kaitaia again (the library isn't open since it's Sunday, so we're sitting in the van, pirating the free wireless at McDonald's. Our life of randomness continues...)
We spent 3 nights in Ahipara, on Jade's back section. It's been so nice to not really travel for a few days, and to just explore the beaches and countryside around the village. We spent most of Thursday in the library in Kaitaia due to the fact that it bucketed down rain all day. By midday we, and everything in the van, was already thoroughly damp. The heavy rains continued well into the night, and we couldn't find any covered picnic shelters or anything, so cooking dinner was rendered hopeless. We spent the evening eating fish and chips from the local takeaways shop, parked up at our campsite, playing cribbage and listening to a local radio station that was broadcasting American country hits and taking requests from people in Nigeria (see what I mean about the randomness? There are only 3 radio stations that come in in Ahipara, and this was one of them).
The storm, another tropical cyclone cell that blew over from Australia, lasted only till the middle of the night, with heavy winds remaining but clear skies and sunshine in the morning. These storms are very short-lived, but involve heavy rains, 100% humidity, and lots of wind. The wind soon dried all of our stuff out yesterday morning, and we spent the day on and around the beach. One of my dreams for this trip came true, as we walked out on the rocks at Shipwreck Bay at low tide and picked a dozen fresh mussels and cooked them up for lunch. On the surf tour back in 2007, our guide showed us where to go to pick the biggest mussels- who knew that I would retain that information and put it to use four years later? They were deliciously fresh, cooked in white wine and garlic, and somehow tasted all teh better for being cooked on a single burner butane stove at the side of the road in 35 knot winds!
We surfed for 2 1/2 hours at Shippie's in the afternoon, with the water to ourselves because the waves were so small. But we couldn't pass up the chance to surf it again, and goofed around in hip-deep water, catching 1-footers and getting some fun little rides. The parking for Shippie's is on the beach, and Lucy proved her worth once again by taking the drive down there in stride- down an incredibly steep driveway, then through a rocky stream and out across the beach. Thank you, four wheel drive! We got a lot of funny looks, because almost all the vehicles that go down there are "Utes," or utility vehicles.
After dinner yesterday, I fell into bed and was asleep in minutes, while Matt stayed up late hangin' with the bros, getting to know Jade and his buddies. We had a lovely morning today, cooking eggs and tea in "camp," then a look at the beach, where the waves weren't big enough to justify a surf. After we run our errands in Kaitaia, we're going to be heading up the peninsula towards Cape Reinga, taking about 3 days to go up and back. I'll have another update when we get back to civilization. In the meantime, here's some photos of us messing around in Ahipara, generally being beach bums: