Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 5 - Thames to Whangarei

Today I have company :)))

After leaving Thames I head for Auckland without a single false turn all thanks to the lady in the GPS :))) She faithfully navigates me through the horrendously confusing traffic lanes and takes me to my friend B’s doorstep without a hitch. She is in her late sixties so she’s more like an elderly aunt than friend. She takes good care of me, like a mother hen. Has kept brunch ready so I feast on ‘appams’ and egg roast. What luxury to be fed and fussed upon!!! She will be my companion for the next 4 days of my trip.

We leave her home shortly and head for Whangarei which is 230 kms away. And shortly outside Auckland I encounter something I’ve not come across in NZ before, a traffic jam that stretched for miles. Traffic moving at 10km and ‘stop and go’ conditions. However, both of us are in no hurry to get anywhere so we spend the time chatting happily. Gossip mostly :))) She used to be in Wellington previously and we say nice things about all the nasty people over there. Well, actually, we wax philosophical about the fickleness of human nature and just quote examples. :)))) In the end we reach the wry conclusion that all is ‘maya’, and not worth agonising about.

Anyway, we got out of the jam and from then on it’s clear sailing to Whangarei over smooth almost-straight roads. We check into the motel and after unloading the bags, plonk into easy chairs and put our feet up. ‘Aaaaah! this is life!’ we both happily declare. No men to pick up after, no meals to cook, no rules, no expectations. just being ourselves. Yes, this is it.

After a short rest and a cuppa, we head out to take a look at local attractions. Just out of town is the Whangarei Falls. Quiet, sylvan surrounds, the water flowing over rocks formed by a lava flow and forming a large pool at the bottom. We just sit there and watch the river gurgling around the rocks and fall several hundred feet in a happy roar. Any residual tension melts and flows away with the water and we sit there until the sun gets too hot on our back.

Next stop - Tutukaka. Don’t ask me what that means, but it sure feels good on the tongue. The Tutukaka coast has several bays and beaches and is 26km away. We check out the marina and a couple of bays and finally settle for the Kowharewa Bay. It is sheltered from the sea and the water is almost as calm as a lake’s and is dotted with boats moored in the harbour. The whole bay has a Mediterranean look and feel to it. Time again to sit back on the rocks and relax and watch the waves gently lapping on the sands.

On the way back, we stop once more alongside a small town called Ngunguru that skirts a natural inlet of the sea and sit back and relax on a wooden bench, once again contemplating the pleasantness of life and feeling grateful for the Spirit that made it all possible. Seagulls come and check us out hoping to get food crumbs and the smell of cooking fills the air as dinners get cooked.

One thing I must say about B, she is game for anything. She has a zest for life that is sadly missing in most people her age.

Then it’s back to the motel again. A calm, pleasant day marked with cheerful chatter, the sound of water, the sense of peace and abandon. What a lovely way to finish a year and start a new one :)))

Just to finish off, we’re both armed with an ice-cream each, we decided to usher in the year with some sweet indulgence :))) Hope the new year is as lip-smackingly goooooood :)))