Catch-up, this might be the last blog for a few days. Labour Weekend (a long weekend for Kiwis) is fast approaching and I think I'll take a few days off from my screen to relax and enjoy the early summer sunshine.
As you've probably gathered from the previous Castlepoint blogs our sunny days in camp didn't last long. Two days of spring sunshine without the hint of a breeze and then dark storm clouds rolled in from the east.
For a few hours they stayed at sea and then headed north...
...before returning down the coast; with heavy rain and the wind whipping up the waves...
...and blowing bucket loads of sea foam and seaweed on shore.
The locals weren't impressed...
And nor were we...
It was cold, blustery and wet, there was nothing for it but to sit it out.
A gift for the locals came riding in on the waves...
A breakfast bar for birds- thousands of tiny goose barnacles smothered the log which would have been bobbing about in the ocean for a long while. Not quite above the tide line, the birds squabbled for the best position, landing and alighting as each wave swept over the top of it.
After three days of stormy weather and cabin fever about to set in, we decided on a drive to blow the cobwebs away. And no, we did not stop at the local pub, the well known Whakataki Hotel which is back down the road about 5kms, just before the road hits the coast. The hotel is also CAP (costs apply parking) for NZMCA members, it used to be free parking until the usual happened, the minority spoilt it for the majority and abused the facilities. So now everyone pays.
We turn off just before the pub, we're heading up the coast a short distance, to the settlement of Mataikona. The road is narrow and winding as it passes over a bluff but opens up once it reaches sea level again. We pass through a few small settlements, this one is called Sandy Bay. No prizes for guessing why.
And look, I found my ideal woolshed! With a cottage attached to the end of it.
Further along the road we stop to check out some very fascinating rock formations. The Mataikona Rocks are a hidden geological gem; the spiky rows are the result of sandstone being compressed by the weight of the Pacific Ocean, then bent and buckled by colliding tectonic plates.
They are usually hidden by the sea so if you're wanting to see them, time your visit for low tide. The tide is on the way in when we stopped and by the time we returned back down the road, they were gone. I wanted to come back at low tide to walk out to the end and explore the rock pools but unfortunately the weather didn't settle until our last day.
We very rarely come across traffic on these back country dead-end roads but today's vehicles are an unusual assortment; a fellow RVer freedom camping- he'd have been buffeted about overnight, a loaded logging truck, we moved off the road to let him past and I'm glad we didn't meet him on the bluff. And a police ute, which passed us twice, once while we were parked in the middle of the road!
Just past Mataikona the road turns inland and follows the Mataikona River for a short distance before it becomes a 4WD track that comes out somewhere around Tinui. The river is also the province boundary line between Manawatu-Wanganui to the north and Wellington to the south.
We turn around just past the Paua Pad...
There are quite a number of baches and make-do shacks sheltering in a pine plantation that runs alongside the road. I've been told that fishing and diving are very bountiful along this stretch of the coast.
On our way back to the main road we stop one last time, at the bluff, so I could take a photo looking down towards Castlepoint with Castle Rock towering above at the rear.
We then headed back inland to Tinui and down to Riversdale, 50 kms to the south of Castlepoint. At one stage we were going to take the 5th-wheeler down there and stay for a few days but with the weather not playing ball we decided to just do a day trip there. It rained on and off all the way...
...and it was cold and so blustery when we arrived, it was a quick run to the top of the sand dune to grab a shot and say 'been there, done that'. I don't even think David took a look. We found a sheltered spot at the end of the road to have lunch and then cursed the weather because we couldn't do an interesting walk along the beach, through the dunes and back along a stream. Well, we could have but it would have been no fun.
Of course I couldn't leave without taking the obligatory church photo- Riversdale's St Josephs Church.
The walkway is through native bush plantings and private farmland and is only open from Nov 1st to April 25th each year (which I think is just as well as I didn't really feel like a steep hike to the top). I'd seen a small pine enclosed in a cage near the information shelter when we were passing earlier and before realizing the significance of the walkway, I thought it might have been a wilding pine with an explanation as to why they are such a pest. Imagine my surprise to see that it was a very special Lone Pine!
Back home and the barnacle bar is still providing food for the locals, this time a pair of Variable Oystercatchers, one with unusual striped underpants. Their antics reminded me of those slippery logs you have to run across without falling off into the swimming pool. The tide spun it around and over as the birds ran up and down balancing carefully so as not to have to jump off.
They were late to the party though, most of the barnacles were gone. After seeing off the gulls they set about cleaning up the left-overs, sticking their bills down every nook and cranny prying out tasty morsels until the log was bare.
Mr & Mrs Red-billed Gull were not impressed.
Finally, after five days of cold, rain, wind and salt spray the sun came out....and David had to clean the van again! There's a lighthouse across there, somewhere.