8-13 January: Meetings at the Mount

Author: Mrs A

Location: Omokoroa, Te Puna, Mount Maunganui, Whakatane and Ohope, New Zealand

Wednesday was dad and Sue’s sixth wedding anniversay, so we treated them to a special lunch at a local winery, Mill’s Reef. As we pulled into the car park we drove past a large black helicopter – apparently some guests really arrived in style! We later learned they had flown up from Christchurch in New Zealand’s south island…imagine doing that!

Despite ‘only’ arriving in a ten year old Ford Focus we all enjoyed our lunch and toasted the happy couple.

On Thursday, a long-time friend, Owen, was flying over to spend some time with his sister and brother-in-law, Kay and Frank in Mount Maunganui, about a half an hour drive south of where dad lives.

We met them for lunch at the Cider Factorie at Te Puna, and brought them back to dad’s house so they could check out the views from this side of Omokoroa.

Friday morning saw us heading down to Tauranga Airport, where Kay and Frank live in an apartment above a plane hanger. They’re both plane enthusiasts, and Frank’s passion is rebuilding old Cessna aircraft.

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Frank shows us around his immaculate workshop and a photo gallery of many other aircraft he has restored and flown over the years

After a quick tour we all jumped into Frank and Kay’s four wheel drive for an explore down the coast. This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for Owen and Kay, who used to holiday in this area as children.E4491EC4-2099-4E63-98D3-D9920C815B34

Our first stop was Whakatane, a fishing port and popular home for retirees (this town boasts the most hours of sunshine in New Zealand). The mouth of the estuary is pretty treacherous with rocks and choppy waters – we watched a few boats running the gauntlet.

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Looking up towards Whatatane Heads
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The calm of the harbour
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Owen looking out at an approaching boat
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A couple of fishermen return through the choppy waters, Moutohora Island in the background
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Magazine photo shoot

From here we continued south along the coast to Ohope, just around the headland.

By all accounts Ohope Beach had not changed a great deal – the beachside settlement was a little bigger, but still very pretty and natural with bush land reaching right down to the beach.

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Mrs A at the end of the beach – lovely warm water here
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Loving the contrast between the black sand and white wind blown silica with this driftwood
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Frank and Kay, our generous hosts
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OE & Mrs A

We stopped in town for some lunch before heading on back to the mount.

Later that evening, we headed into Mount Maunganui for dinner at a local restaurant, Fish Face…yes speciality food is fish. An old colleague of Mark’s from his SAP days, Kirstin, drove up from her home to join us. Lots of laughs, some tasty food and wine was enjoyed, and we all sensibly returned home for night caps rather than stumble in to one of the many nearby bars.

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Wearing my new pendant – handcrafted by one of dad & Sue’s neighbours from London Plane and NZ paua shell, silver chain gifted from Kay
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OE and Kay enjoying dinner
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Mr A sneaks in dessert accompanied by an espresso martini

Saturday morning called for some activity to work off all the excesses of the night before, so Mark, Owen and I borrowed some bikes and went on a ride. Owen is recovering from a nasty cycling accident which resulted in a broken shoulder, chipped elbow bone and nerve damage to his leg, so this was only the second time back on a bike in a couple of months.

We took it easy, making use of the off road cycle network to explore the coast around Tauranga harbour and tour around 15km.

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Team photo as we leave the airport
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Mr A and OE pedal along the boardwalk
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The rail bridge connecting Tauranga to Matapihi
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Team photo crossing the bridge
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Nice view across the harbour towards the Mount
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White faced heron having a preening session on a rock
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Millions of dollars worth of yachts not being used
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A delightful bronze sculpture of the Hairy Mclary characters – if you don’t know the books, look them up!

We returned for showers and joined Kay for lunch in Mount Maunganui and a wander around the shops.

Frank and Kay have a lovely library in their apartment with bifold windows that open up to look out over the runway. We enjoyed predinner wine and cheese while we watched the neighbours take their plane out for a flight, as you do!

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Enjoying the refreshing breeze across the airport
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Biggles heads off for an early evening flight
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Capped off with a delicious dinner of rib eye, salad and new potatoes

Sunday morning saw Mark, Owen and I back on the bikes cycling into Mount Maunganui. I stopped off at a cafe to meet up with four local ladies who, like me, have idiopathic subglottic stenosis and are members of the support group I run. It’s always lovely to chat to locals and especially ladies who have gone through similar experiences. We had a good three hour catch up.

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The first ever New Zealand iSGS meet up

Meanwhile, Mr A and Owen continued their cycle, before meeting up with Kay again for a beer at the fisherman’s club and lunch at an Asian restaurant.

We then cycled back to Kay and Frank’s, packed up the car and farewelled Owen as he headed off to fly back to Auckland, and then back to Melbourne. A fabulous long weekend for all of us.

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