Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Simpson’s Beach, Whitianga

I can tell you, I’m seriously getting sick of hearing waves out of my bedroom window! Not.

We are parked up by some large pines in another sheep paddock beside another beautiful beach. This is Simpsons Beach, named after the Simpson family that own most of the land around here. We’re at another LCP site, that’s short for “Low Cost Parking”, where you’re welcome to stay as long as you’re fully self-contained; this one is only $5 a night. Now that is cheap. Simpsons Beach is very well known & I’ve heard that the paddock is packed to the gunwales over the summer months. Tonight there are just five of us parked up, the nearest van is a good 100 metres away. 

The Simpson farm is 1000 acres and has been in the family since 1927, 86 year old Mr Simpson greeted us at the office(his backdoor) & when David mentioned that he’d known the camp site from when he visited Whitianga back in the 70’s, Mr Simpson told us that they were a dairy farm back then & the campers used to come to the shed for their milk, thruppence for a billy can.

That's us, the second shiny spot under the big pines at the end of the beach

Simpsons Beach is at the bottom of Mercury Bay, alongside Buffalo Beach and about 5kms from Whitianga town. We’re in familiar territory now having spent many hours cruising around Mercury Bay and berthed at Whitianga Marina when we weren’t visiting the Mercury Islands. Whitianga also holds many happy memories for David, his parents lived at Harbour Lights, overlooking Whitianga, back in the early ‘70s which was not long after they emigrated to New Zealand. David’s sister & husband owned the local Four Square store & he spent many weekends & holidays driving to & from Auckland to visit them all & to fish & dive in the area. The Four Square is long gone but while waiting for our Fish ‘n Chip lunch David spotted an old photo on the wall that had a section of the store in it. Obviously this is well before Jackie & Bob owned it.
Four Square on the right
After getting the van set up & levelled; we’re getting very good at packing & unpacking now that we’ve moved so often, we both have out routines & check lists to follow and it doesn’t take too long at all, we headed off to town to see if much had changed since our last visit. We had a wander through town, fish ‘n chips on the beach for a late lunch & then a stroll back along the river to the marina with a stop to watch the ferry that takes people across the estuary to Ferry Landing, the oldest stone wharf in Australasia built in 1837. There are quite a number of fabulous beaches on the otherside that run along the southern side of Mercury Bay & around onto the eastern coast. These are 46 kilometres away by vehicle due to a very large estuary that takes a big bite out of the land.

We spent a bit of time at the wharf watching a skipper & his first mate getting ready to go fishing. The boat was a commercial long liner & they were baiting up the hundreds of hooks, makes the recreational fishermen’s limit of two lines with 25 hooks each look a little puny! They’ll leave port around 4am tomorrow and be back mid afternoon with their catch, mainly snapper but including gurnard & tarakihi. The boat travels at 5knots while the line is fed out the back, the first mate clipping each baited hook onto the line as it passes him by, hence the carefully placed baited hooks onto the square board that looks a lot like a weaving loom to me!

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