We left Kairakau Beach behind and took a short trip over the hill to the south to check out another beach- Mangakuri Beach.
There's no camping at this beach and a few more permanent homes along the beachfront road.
Being Hawkes Bay born and bred, and having spent a few of my teenage summers visiting many of the beaches south of Hastings, I thought I knew all of them. But this is one I didn't know about.
We parked on the grassy reserve at the centre of the beach, where we had lunch overlooking the dunes and ocean. The road in is fairly narrow & gravel (except for a couple of sealed areas where the road climbs) and then it dropped down from the hill above the beach. We must have looked a sight arriving with the 5th-wheeler on the back. We certainly got a few stares and waves from the limited amount of locals passing by.
After lunch, we walked up to the far end of the beach and then back down the road. There were some lovely homes and a couple of interesting beach access points along the way.
Mangakuri is a pretty secluded settlement, nice for a day visit but unless you have a bach or rent one there's no staying overnight. We headed back over the road to the turnoff where David pulled in off to the side. Barbara (Kairakau mosiac lady) had told me about the Mangakuri Church which was just up the gravel road to our left abit.
Both her and Graham had told us that the road was narrow and we'd probably not be able to take the 5th-wheeler over it. So David parked up and I walked down the road to photograph the church, it was actually further than I thought but eventually I rounded a corner to see a sign on the road ahead of me pointing across a paddock to a tiny little church nestled in amongst the bare trees. Without the sign you could easily miss it in the summer. Now, how to get there?
I could see a muddy grass track crossing the paddock at the bottom of the hill. I always feel a little apprehensive when I need to cross what looks like private land to get to a church and also bit intrusive especially when I feel like I'm passing through someone's escaped garden...
...and along the front of their house. This is Castlehill Homestead and I'm not so sure anybody lives in it anymore. We've seen so many large farm houses and station homesteads on our travels, many of them are empty and have been left to the elements. It's such a shame these beautiful old stately homes with many stories to tell, are slowly disappearing.
The smell of the jonquils is divine as I pass through them and they remind me of our farm in Napier. As kids we used to pick bunches of jonquils and snowdrops, set up a stall and sell them for pocket money, at the bottom of our farm drive. Sell them to people on their way to the two cemeteries at the end of our road! We made the most money on a Sunday, that was the most popular day for visiting the graves of loved ones. What shameless entrepreneurs we were!
Mangakuri Station Chapel & belfry; a Historic Place Category 2 building. Another church to add to my album and to send a copy to NZ Heritage for their files.
I took my time walking back to the van, it was mostly uphill and I stopped often to watch the antics of the lambs in the paddocks as I passed. I really could watch lambs all day, they are such funny little characters; just like a bunch of kids; they play together, bully each other, dance with joy and miss their mum when she disappears, some are scaredy cats, others bolshie but all are too cute.
At first I thought this one was dead until I saw him flick his ear, he was just enjoying the warm Hawkes Bay sun.
It was not only the jonquils that gave me a memory jolt; all along the road verges were the dried seed heads of......and I had to reach into the far recesses of my brain to remember their name.....teasels! We used to spray them gold and silver and Mum would sell them in dried arrangements on her pottery stall. More pocket money!
The next beach we are heading to is Pourerere and the plan was, after visiting Mangakuri, to head back to the Kairakau road, head west towards Waipawa, turn at the Patangata Tavern and then head down the Pourerere Road, a 57km trip. But, we know if we turn left where David is waiting for me, and take the gravel road is only 30kms direct to Pourerere.
Graham (at Kairakau) had told us we wouldn't be able to get the rig through on this road but after walking down the road to the church I could see that it was just a normal gravel country road and we'd be fine, in fact it was a lot wider than some we've been on. Of course David would have preferred to have had tarseal all the way but as we'd come a few kilometres on the gravel, the dust was already making its mark.
Dairy farming hasn't reached the east coast of Southern Hawkes Bay (and its not likely to either), the area is wall to wall (fence to fence?) beef & sheep stations with so many cool and historic woolsheds. I know what my next project is going to be when I finish with the churches. I managed to shoot these through the window as we passed, I think David would have shot me if I'd got him to stop for them all.
Although we had to pull to a grinding halt when we came around a corner and were met by a small mob of sheep galloping towards us. They also pulled up fast, right in the middle of the road, staring at us like, 'what the heck is that, and where do we go now'. Two dogs and a quad bike came racing across the bridge just in time and they took off again, split either side of us and we were free to continue.
Before we knew we'd arrived at Pourerere Beach, all safe and sound and very pleased we'd shaved 30km off the original route plan. Our pleasure was going to be short lived.
Pourerere (what's with the multiple 're'- I keep forgetting one set of them) has a place in Hawkes Bay's very early history.
We drove along the beach front and climbed a small hill to the freedom camping area. What a disgraceful site, on a slope, dirt, mud and deep ruts all over the site, with no access to the beach and broken fences on the cliff edge. Yes, it's free but still, it's like they thought we'll stick them up there out of the way, they'll hate it so much they'll only stay a night and then be gone. Well we decided we wouldn't even stay a night and headed off...
...back down to the beach to park up on the lovely grassed area to have some lunch. It's about now that I have to tell you that I stuffed up big time! You've probably gathered that I'm a pretty organised person and I spend a fair amount of time researching the areas we're visiting.
And I did all that for this beach hop adventure back in Napier. I phoned the Central HB Council, like it said to do in our NZMCA Directory, for a permission to stay at Kairakau, Pourerere & Porangahau. I did all that and got the text back to say AOK, here's you permit for Pourerere, you don't need anything for the other two beaches. By the time we got to Pourerere I'd overlooked that we were allowed to stay- with that permit- on the marked sites where we were now having lunch. Duh!
We're such 'goody-two-shoes', we couldn't quite convince ourselves that we'd be OK staying where we were, just for the night and decided to head to Waipukurau. To be fair (and not to make me look so stupid) I'd put the coordinates in from the directory and they had directed us straight to the freedom camping area not the beach permit area.
And, if we'd had cell phone reception I would have called the council to check and then it would have dawned on me that we were allowed to stay on the beach. I hadn't even given it a thought to re-read the text permit which had the location information in it too. It wasn't until the next day when I was rechecking that it all fell into place.
And then I was so hopping mad because we also missed the chance of visiting Aramoana Beach, just over the hill from Pourerere, and also seeing the beautiful Aramoana Station homestead with its big turret tower.
And what was that I was saying about feeling like I'm intruding when I find a church? On the way out of Pourerere, I spied a church spire in the trees on a hill, so David pulled over and I went and found a track up to the church....
...unfortunately this one is now somebody's home and I found myself in their backyard beside their spa pool! I made a hasty retreat with my tail between my legs. Today is not going well.
We had one more stop and another memory from childhood before we reached Waipukurau. Omakere Church Hall, although I can't remember the hall, I know Dad & Mum used to drive us down to visit family friends who farmed in Omakere. I don't remember much other than a very tall hedge along their drive and a large fish pond in the middle of their lawn, with pretty water lilies and goldfish. I also remember that it was a long drive from Napier down some very winding roads.
And that was how we found ourselves parked in a hotel carpark in Waipukurau instead of beach side at Pourerere- not quite what I had in mind for our 'Beach Hop' but as it turned out in the end, a little bit of silver lining, as the weather was set to deteriorate and we wanted to visit Taniwha Daffidols just south of Waipuk, before the rain flattened the blooms.
A NZMCA POP (park over property), we were a little worried about parking in The Leopard Hotel's carpark, with the hotel on one side and a bottle store on the other we thought there might be a bit of traffic but in fact it was very quiet, it was free and they even had a fresh water supply. Perfect.