Friday, February 29, 2008

coast to coast

Here's a map of the North Island. If it were a shark swimming down we basically drove from Raglan on the left fin (on the Tasman Sea) to the top of the right fin (on the Pacific), then cut straight down the right fin (imagine my surprise when Mr. Black said we'd be taking the fast way), then up and around the right fin (better known as the East Cape) then back across to where we began. You can just ignore the land mass on the left, which is Tasmania.

Our first stop after Raglan.

Skinner's sister Clare lives here with her partner (that's Kiwi-code for boyfriend) Rich, right on the beach in Mount Maunagnui. It's sort of like Santa Monica but without Coffee Bean or homeless people, and with a big emerald mountain on the sea.

Clare let me try out her surfboard in her front yard. Props to Mr. Black for getting this moment on film, cause it didn't last long.

Later that morning we left the Mount (as it's known) to hit the road for Gisborne (bottom of right fin). I was still in a really good mood here cause Mr. Black hadn't told me yet that we weren't taking the coastal route.

This is a campsite right by those train tracks in the photo above. There hadn't been many sunny beach moments before this one so I was totally bewildered when Mr. Black said we better hit the road to reach Gisborne in time for a sunset surf session.
Bewildered, I tell you. Speechless.

Here's what the road looked like once we cut inland. Not too shabby. Might be a good time to visit the first ever entry of this blog where I was sad that the vacant lot outside my window in Williamsburg got mowed, ruining my green view.

Ok, so he had a point about getting there by sunset. Here's the town beach at Gisborne.

First Mr. Black took out his fish, a sharp little seventies-style board that I am partial to because of its marigold orange accents, and cause it's the only one I can even attempt to ride.

He gave me a turn (pushing me into waves, one of the nicest things anyone can do for someone) while this moon rose over the surf rescue club.

The next morning we started up the right fin. This was one of our first stops, New Zealand's longest wharf at Tolaga Bay.

Mr. Black brakes for locals.

So the right fin, or the East Cape, as it's better known, is one the most remote pieces of an already remote country. There is no definitely no cell phone reception out here and our destination was Waihau Bay, where we were to meet up with Rich's (of Mount Maunganui) brother-in-law, Ben, out on a mad annual deep-sea fishing trip with his mates. He didn't know we were coming, or even who we were.

So basically we showed up in this town, which consists of only a pub and the church you see below (where Ben got married) and I walked out on the pier to a couple of guys bringing in a boat that looked like it came from "Apocalypse Now" while Mr. Black had a beer at the pub and I said to the captain, "Are you Ben?"
And indeed he was, so we bought him and his first mate Phil a beer and then he took us home, gave us bunk beds exactly like the ones I grew up with (only red instead of white), gin and tonics and took us to a barbecue with eight of his closest friends, none of whom caught anything fishing that day (except Ben's Mako Shark, which he threw back).

This is a great nation.

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