Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Far North
After dropping Andrew off at the Airport, Craig and I found ourselves blazing through Auckland and trying to get as far away from it’s chaotic traffic as possible. Having spent the past month or so pretty much in the middle of nowhere, the sights and sounds of a large city came as a bit of a culture shock to us. We kept driving north and found ourselves in the little town of Raukaka just south of Whanagarei. Craig has some friends back home from Sequim that have family here that he’s never met. We gave them a call and asked if we could stop by and say hi. Sure enough in true Kiwi hospitality, we were welcomed into the home of Judy and Mark Frasier with open arms. They treated us to a proper kiwi “tea” of a lamb roast (which was raised in their back yard) and potatoes. They offered us beds for the night and Judy even cooked us a huge proper kiwi breakfast in the morning. When commenting on how big and amazing the breakfast was, Judy simply told us “Well, you gotta live another day right?”. We were so thankful for such amazing hospitality at a time when we’ve spent almost the past month sleeping on the ground and cooking on a little camp stove. Since it was stormy all evening, it was even more of a treat. Mark and Judy, if you are reading this, thank you again so much for everything. You hospitality will not soon be forgotten.
After leaving Raukaka, we ended up in Whangarei, a large port town that surprisingly reminds us of Olympia. We met up with some Susanne and David, fellow Oly travelers that have been on the road for the past three years. Only they haven’t actually been on a road for three years. They’ve been on the water. Three years ago they left from Cornwall, England on their catamaran, the Chesire, and after a couple of ocean crossings and many incredible adventures later, they have found themselves in New Zealand. Craig and I spent the evening and most of the morning the next day chatting with our new Oly compadres and absorbing all the amazing experiences they shared with us. They cooked us an awesome breakfast on their boat in the morning and gave us an incredible slideshow of their travels. It was truly inspirational to be hanging out with fellow travels from home, who is traveling the world in a completely different way than most people I know. Seeing the world from a boat is just yet another type of travel that fascinates and inspirers. If you’re interested in the travel of Susanne and David on the Chesire, here is a link to their blog:
After leaving Whangarei, Craig and I kept going north. Our destination was some hot springs and another world class left hand point break called Shipwrecks. After a nice muddy soak in some really low key and very hippy-esque hot pools just outside of Whangarei we were on the road again. The further north we drove, the more apparent it became of our Pakeha status. We were definitely a minority in the far north. Only about 90 miles from the top of New Zealand we came to Shipwrecks and to our surprise it was actually really good. Shoulder to head high left handers were peeling off the point for almost 100 yards or more. There were only a few guys out, but on my first wave, it was perfectly lined up and I probably could have went forever, but to my luck, a local guy looked right at me as I was surfing towards him and he dropped in right on top of me making me wipe out and get washed up right into the rocks. I was fired up. In 6 months of being in this country, I have yet to get a bad vibe in the water let alone get totally stuffed the way I did. For the whole session, 2 local guys were blocking every wave Craig and I went for, even if it meant for them to wipe out, they did not want us getting waves. I managed to sneak a few waves, and they were absolutely amazing. They went forever. But the general vibe in the water put a limit to the fun quota. Not one smile or head nod the whole time we were there. It’s a bit unfortuante that such a good wave and potentially incredible experience was ruined by 2 dudes. But that’s the way it goes. Not being from there and having my entire life in my car on the beach kept my mouth closed. I would like to return there and give shipwrecks another try, but the next day there were no waves so we drove south. The weather and waves are not cooperating for us at the moment. Andrew arrives back in the country tomorrow, so we may be in for a long drive to Gisborne, in the middle of the North Island on the East Coast where there is rumored a decent sized swell is coming. Chao!