December 15-17: Natural New Zealand doesn’t disappoint

Author: Mrs A

Saturday: Another spectacular morning welcomed us, the water glistening  just metres from the end of the garden. Of course this meant we were again tempted out for a paddle. This time we packed up our boats into backpacks and walked across to the other side of the peninsular to launch. As we reached the other side we noticed the sky darkening, and a quick look at the weather radar showed a major storm heading our way.

Heading up the hill – colour coordinated shoes and backpack!

We decided the water might not be the best place to be if this hit, and changed our plans to a hike, following the coastal path around Omokoroa’s headland.  That’s the great thing about these boats you can carry – they’re so light that it doesn’t really matter if your plans change, it was not too arduous to take them with us.

Mr A heads off along the coastal pathway
Stunning views with the tide out in the early morning light
More lovely views, looking out to Motohua Island

We tracked around a beautiful walkway, following steps and grassy pathways, all the way around and back to home – around 7km all up. The storm didn’t eventuate fortunately, instead changing direction and heading out to sea.

Mr A pausing to enjoy the view up a steep stairway

Sunday afternoon we decided to attempt the backpack-paddle adventure again, with dad and Sue joining us to walk over to Cooney Reserve, where we inflated the boats on a white sand beach and launched off.

Mark heading off from the shore
Winding through the yachts
Spot Mount Manganui in the background

The water was shallow and so warm – easily around 30 degrees centigrade – and the local children were having a great time playing in the water and jumping off the wharves.

Sparkling clear warm waters

The Kokopelli boats are so easy to paddle, more so even than our last packrafts – they’re slightly narrower so not quite so susceptible to the breeze on flat water. As we rounded the headland the nor-easterly was quite brisk, but we made it around without too much effort.

Having so much fun in our little boats. Behind us the little bay 100 metres from dad and Sue’s back fence.

This is such a picturesque time of year to visit New Zealand. The Pohutukawa trees (known as the native Christmas tree) are all in bloom, filled with nectar loving birds such as the native Tui and the introduced rosellas. Ever swooping in front of us were a pair of sacred kingfishers,  entertaining us with their antics as they caught little fish in the shallows. Apparently kingfish and snapper are common around here.

Picturesque Bay of Plenty
Flowering Pohutukawa trees
Mr A entranced by the Sacred Kingfishers

Our day concluded with drinks and nibbles, as is the civilised way!

A glass of red to finish the day before dinner

Monday  dawned and Mr A and I attempted  some shopping in Tauranga. The town is looking a little scruffy and sad, with most of the bigger shops having moved out of the town to a big estate. We managed to get a few bits and pieces for our upcoming camping trips, then returned to Omokoroa for the afternoon. 

Looking down the side of dad and Sue’s house towards the harbour

Dad and Sue spent their afternoon in the garden, making their already stunning display even prettier with pruning, feeding and mowing. It is definitely a hobby which displays its rewards. It is hard to believe they have only been moved in since  the beginning of May this year, the garden at that stage being more of a building site. Many of these plants started off as little cuttings brought from their old home or gifts from friends and neighbours. It looks amazing today, with much potential ahead too.

Dad hard at work in the garden
Some of the beautiful flowers in the garden

Mr A and I decided to walk down to the harbour and explore the bay on foot, picking our way along the beach alongside the golf course. 

More native Christmas trees flower along the sandy beach
Looking out towards the Kaimai range

There’s plenty of bird life here – with literally hundreds of black swans in the bay, white faced herons, flocks of bar-tailed godwits (flown here all the way from Alaska, over 11,000km away) and red-legged pied stilts. All this is surrounded by the stunning Kaimai ranges, making for a very unique location.

Pied stilts circling us to check how frightening we are

We sat a while on the edge of the water, watching the birds circle around nervously before deciding we weren’t too big of a threat and settling a short way away on the sand.

A rather grand house alongside the bay…we’d love to learn its story…

What a very special place this is. 

The sun setting over the reserve, golf course and bay.

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