Spine of the Fish  Day 63: she drives me crazy

An unexpected side route offers up a sparkling gem…

Waikawau Bay to The Balancing Stones

When strangers stop to talk with us the conversation often ends up being about our relationship for some reason.

‘You must run out of things to say,’ people postulate…often with a grimace.

‘How do you stand being together for so long?’ The look that comes with this question is usually one of complete bafflement.

‘You must really enjoy each other’s company. I don’t think I could stand being with my wife/husband/partner/chihuahua for THAT long.’

We never dreamed that marriage guidance would be a skill required on this walk. At this stage of the conversation it’s usually us that are looking baffled.

Here’s the truth: we do run out of things to say. Sometimes we irritate the hell out of each other. We have no idea why we enjoy each other’s company so much but it might have something to do with the endorphins and our shared purgatory. Walking several hundred kilometres at a time together has created a bond that we think is similar to the bond soldiers in war get. Seriously.

As for the title of this post…it’s a cryptic clue. It’s got nothing to do with our relationship.

To set you on your way to solving today’s conundrum think ‘incredibly catchy earworm’ and read on. The first correct answer to arrive on the FMC Facebook page will receive an autographed length of Horoeka. The question? The answer would be too easy if I asked it.

We woke to yet another outstanding day. Yawn! We didn’t have far to go and had decided the night before to bludge a lift up the road with Ngaire and Alan’s daughter Leo. Yes, this would be cheating, but we had heaps of questions for her.

She’s like a professional walker who works as a contractor -and volunteer- trapper and track-worker for the impressive Moehau Environmental Group (MEG). We always take the opportunity to learn from groups other than the one we’re involved with as fresh ideas and perspectives are always valuable when doing something as experimental as pest control.

Leo


It’s an organisation with an impressive vision: ‘to become the largest open sanctuary in New Zealand – a remote coastal landscape where people live, work and holiday; wetlands and forests are regenerating; the bird-song is deafening; and treasured species like kiwi, pateke, bellbird, whitehead thrive.’

Right on!

It’s a vision they seem to be backing up with action. Everywhere we walked in the northern Coromandel seemed to be decorated with their multi-coloured triangles that marked out an impressive range of traps.

Leo had trapped on the farm we would be walking over so had a few hints for our journey.

We finally got onto the track at about eleven -a late start for us- but we didn’t have far to go. We started with a short climb through farmland that quickly melted away to regenerating forest the higher we climbed. A variety of traps lead us through the bush and over to the first bay for the day.

The heat of the day

Leaving the track proved to be a bit of a curse as the bush was so thick we struggled to find the track again…but the beach was worth the visit. I could describe it for you but figure that the photos speak for themselves.

Granite beach


The rock beach was hard to walk on but…but…wow. It reminded me of a painting by Michael Smithers – ‘Rocks and Mountain’. Of course the mountain was absent but that absence was more than made up for by the Pohutukawa and Nikau jungle that was trying to invade the Pacific Ocean.

On the coast

Brand new automatic A12 possum traps were attached to some of the Pohutukawa – perhaps in an effort to save them. Several of the great trees were dead.

We struggled to retake the track but when we did we were rewarded with a quick trip into the next bay – our stop for the night.

As I’ve said in yesterday’s post, the land we crossed was privately owned. We’d gained access by asking permission from the farmer who leased it from its foreign owner. The owner seems to have the right attitude to the jewel that he/she has managed to acquire.

It’s not intensively farmed and seems to be regenerating into forest nicely. Large Pohutukawa and Kauri are highlights of the bush but there is plenty of other interesting flora. Clean streams babble throughout and we’ve been told Kiwi are common. Locals seem to have plenty of access and best of all the place is being quite intensively trapped.

Mountain juice!

We’re not usually fans of our best land being sold to ‘The Dreaded Foreigners’, but we’ve walked past and over plenty of New Zealand-owned land that is simply being abused. Perhaps part of a successful recipe for foreign ownership should include access and environmental guarantees? Perhaps this little slice of heaven could act as a model?

Or should we just turn the whole country into a giant dairy farm?

The walk from the top of the hill down to ‘our’ bay was through long grass. We walked past an abandoned and rotten fishing hut. Furniture and ancient camping gear lay exposed to the weather. A huge Pohutukawa with a swing sat above the beach that sheltered the small flat area our tent would soon sit in.

Our destination

Three rocks

Leaving the island

A warm bath in the evening

We explored, swam and made ourselves a home for the night. We ate tea as we watched the sea inhale…exhale…inhale…in a gentle rhythm that sucked the last of the day’s pain from our feet. As we silently watched, the sea turned from chrome, to teal, to dark blue. As the sun finally sunk (or should that be sank), pink made a showing.

Fish flew. Shags watched. Dew drew itself from wherever it had lain during the hot day.

At 6.30 we retired for the night. It was dark and well past our new bedtime. As the sea breathed and perfection smothered us, we lost consciousness.

(Note: The best part of the day was our ear worm. As you will have gathered from reading this blog they are usually looked upon with disdain. Day 63’s earworm, however, was the reason we were where we were. Without spelling it out…that was your last cryptic clue to finding the question and the answer to Day 63’s reason.)

 

Wilderlife