Thursday, 11 April 2013

A Helicopter & the Red Checkers

This morning we were woken by a helicopter that seemed to be buzzing our campsite. In fact it was topdressing or spraying the farm & in particular the hills behind the beach. It’s turn around point was right over the campsite, back & forward it weaved its way up & down the hill paddocks. After about six runs it would disappear over the hills only to return 10 minutes later to pick up where it had left off. This farm must be doing very well; helped along by many $5 notes! J

Yesterday we were also buzzed by the Red Checkers. The Checkers are the aerobatic  flying Team of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. They fly Pacific Aerospace CT-4E Airtrainers & were doing some practice work over Whitianga for the Super V8 opening in Pukekohe. We were having our lunch on the beach & a young foreign tourist came to ask us what it was all about. He thought they were doing a show just for him; there was no one else about! J

I cheated, these are my Napier Art Deco Checker shots... :)
 As you can see from my last post we did a bit of tiki-touring around the beaches on the north-eastern side of the peninsula that forms the top of Mercury Bay. These are all beautiful  ocean beaches & it would be hard to pick a favourite, I think I liked Otama for its isolation but Opito would be my choice to holiday at & if I wanted to get totally away from the world for a bit I’d have a bach in Matapaua Bay. We’ve anchored in most of the bays of these beaches at various times over the years but this was the first time I had visited them by road. Black Jack Road is world famous in New Zealand, well, world famous if you visit the Coromandel regularly. It’s another winding narrow gravel road up & over a ridge, for us, after all the winding narrow gravel roads we’ve been over lately it wasn’t actually that bad. And the views were spectacular.
I wanted to take the very narrow winding road to Matapaua Bay, a bay that’s always fascinated me because it’s actually on the inside of the peninsula & part of Mercury Bay & facing Whitianga & Cooks Beach but to get to it you have to take the long drive over and around the top, right to Opito and then over the top again and down into the bay. As already mentioned, we have anchored & overnighted in this bay ready for our run home to Tauranga in the morning, it has deep water & is a beautiful sea green colour.

We had lunch (when a cock pheasant strutted past us) at Otama Beach which looks out over another one of our happy boating areas, Great Mercury Island.
I think we need a new sun umbrella, this one is a little short!
We then headed back past Kuaotunu to look at Gray & Rings Beaches which we hadn’t been aware of before. They were both smaller lovely white sand beaches which looked to have been the old traditional holiday spots of this part of the Coromandel going by the iconic kiwi baches lining the roadside.  The rocks & boulders piled in the corner at the end of Rings Beach made an interesting pattern, it looked like they’d been blown there in a big storm. No doubt they’ve been there for thousands of years.
The road continued around the point to Matarangi Beach, a very popular holiday “resort”. I never like calling them resorts in New Zealand because they are nothing like the beach resorts that we’ve visited overseas. These just happen to be more popular holiday spots & sometimes they come with a flash golf course. And no, we didn’t play Matarangi Dad.

Bluff Road probably shaved about 10 minutes off the trip had we taken the normal route to Matarangi, back along the main road. This wasn’t called Bluff Road for nothing, now this was a winding, narrow road. Used more by locals than anybody I would think. It had some great fishing spots in amongst the rocks.

On the way home we stopped to see if David could pick out his sister’s old house in amongst the bush on the main road at Kuaotunu, his memory wasn’t  that great so while he was thinking about it I did as all good photographers do, never miss an opportunity of taking a shot! J


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