The one thing I missed most about NZ when I was living in the UK is this.
The long hot Kiwi summer.
I know it’s not always hot, and it was actually hotter in my memories of the late 1970s, but even so, just having the freedom to not do much and just hang out at the beach over the lazy school holiday months of December and January is wonderful.
In the past I’ve taken the kids on the annual pilgrimage to the Coromandel beach of Whangapoua in late January when the weather is warmer and often more reliably hot, but this year we are both so busy with trying to get money in the door to pay for everything we haven’t stopped over Christmas and can’t see stopping anytime soon.
I know we need a break though, so when Rachel Lees from South Sea Island Home invited us out to her family’s bach about an hour’s drive from home I leapt at the chance to accept. The kids were spending some time with their father so it was just my Englishman and I, and even then he tried to bale saying he couldn’t spend the time away from the welding iron. So I did what good wives do.
I made him come along for the ride.
I’ve always held the view that the beaches south of Howick are not all that, and that it’s the beaches north of the city that really stun, but when you’ve been living overseas your eyes are suddenly opened to the beauty that really does exist here.
Rachel told us her family’s bach was on land just passed KawaKawa Bay and her instructions were amusing.
“Drive to the end of the coast road where it comes to an end and then keep on driving up the gravel track up the side of a cliff until you come to a gate that says ‘Private Property.”
Actually I think the gate said something like – ‘Come on in I can get to the gate quicker than you can’ with a picture of a savage looking dog. But she was right about the other things – the cliff (check), the winding track (check), the great views of certain doom if you were to make a false steering move (check)….
I made my Englishman drive that bit.
Nestled on the side of the bush clad hill was a cute little caretaker’s cottage, a hippy chick’s hideaway. I wanted to just stay there, write my great New Zealand novel and never leave. And with views like this from the deck can you blame me?
This is the real New Zealand that tourists don’t often get to enjoy, but I really think they should!
And this is what it sounds like, lest you think it’s all calm and quiet. Apparently at dawn you can hear the Weka and the Kingfisher as well as the Tui and Bellbird. Then the cicadas start..
And just down the bush track there’s this beach. A private beach. This. Is. The. Life.
Even though Tuturau is privately owned there is a public beach and camping ground not far from here, which is only accessible at low tide. The New Zealand Department of Conservation, colloquially known as DOC runs the campsite there.
Check out Tawhitokino if you’re spending some time in NZ and can go bush!
This is the best way to experience New Zealand, with only a very basic camping ground, no mod-cons like flushing loos or hot water, but on the other hand you wake up to this:
Tawhitokino is also accessible by sea and is a stopping point for the Te Ara Moana sea-going pathway which follows the old Maori canoe routes around the coast of the Hunua Ranges. I must do that pathway one day.
How lucky are we to live so close – even in New Zealand’s largest city – that we are only 60 kms away from this natural paradise?
As soon as the work is done I’m intending on dragging my Englishman back here and going native for a couple of days. We could do with playing Adam and Eve for a bit.
Where: Waiti Bay, Tawhitokino – South of Auckland’s urban area
Why: For absolute get-back-to-nature ‘peace’
Who: Tourists should come here to really get the spirit of New Zealand and our beautiful bush.
How much: $6 per adult per night. Yes. Really!!