Surfing ‘Da Bar’, Crazy Golf and Kawhia – New Zealand Day 12
It was the day of the K2 race around Coramandel today. I’d found out a little bit about it now. It was a 200km hard core hilly bike race around the Coramandel Peninsula. The start location and route change from year to year and with the hot sun and the hilly route this years looked like an epic. I wasn’t doing it, but it sounded good.
As usual I was up earlier than Anna and Morgan so went for a wander to the beach. There were surfers walking through the dunes and as I crested the dunes it was obvious why. Compared to last night, the waves were pumping. I didn’t have a board or wetsuit with me, but I knew the surf shops in town would hire them. What was I to do? Well, hire some of course! The waves weren’t huge but they looked as though they were getting bigger so there was no hurry, especially as The Bar works best at low tide anyway.
I therefore returned to the camper and had breakfast with Anna and Morgan before heading into Whangamata to check the surf again. The surf was now bigger and the Bar was beginning to work, the sun was shining and the place was buzzing with surfers all excited to see some surf. I checked out the hire prices in the surf shops and ended up hiring a small Oxbow 6’2″ board and an O’Neill wetsuit. I asked for a few details on the break and was told that the surf was forecast to build all day and that the bar should be working well at low tide.
We headed back to the beach, I got kitted up and headed out into the surf. I had planned on surfing the waves off the beach at first rather than heading out to what looked like the more hardcore wave of The Bar, but once on the beach I just followed someone else out, across the shallow waters inside of the bar and then out into the river channel which took me out to the line up for The Bar. My first wave was awesome, a little right-hander that jacked up perfectly to be just over head high and peeled off towards the river channel perfectly. I haven’t surfed a wave like that for ages, it felt easy and everything was working as it should. The board was nice too, just the right size, fast enough for the wave but manouverable enough to throw around on the face as well. This is what surfing was about, blue skies, clear blue sparkling waters, perfect waves and a lovely setting too. That set the scene for the rest of the morning really as I caught wave after wave and chatted to a few of the locals, including a large, heavily tattooed Moari who visually had the look of a real ‘locals only’ type of guy but turned out to be really friendly. Anna took photos from the beach, Morgan played in the sand and I surfed the day away. Here are some of the best shots and best waves of the day from The Bar, Whangamata.
After my surf, we chilled by the beach for a bit and chatted to a few other surfers. Whangamata is a typical surf town, laid back and relaxed and a nice place to while away your days in the sunshine. We then wandered around the town again and returned my board and suit before having a round of Crazy Gold with Morgan – He’d been wanted to play ever since we arrived in Whangamata and saw it, but it had been closed until now. It was then time for a coffee and a cake, a delicious Macadamia Slice for me this time and then back in the camper for a drive across the island – this time from East to West towards Kawhia.
The Drive to Kawhia
We stopped off en route at Te Aroha Thermal Springs for a little walk. Again we were a little disappointed as the thermal pools weren’t at all natural looking as they had been converted into a swimming pool. OK< the water was naturally heated but you wouldn’ tnecessarily have know that. Worse still, the geyser that was suppose to have been there was covered in concrete and ‘switched off’ at the time. never mind, we had a nice little walk and saoked our feet in the thermal foot spa. For some reason the water seemed to enlarge my foot to epic proportions – that what it looks like in the photo anyway!
We stopped just outside of Hamilton in the Supermarket as well and then had a pleasant drive over the Pirongia Mountains and Forest from where we had some spectacular views down towards Kawhia Harbour.
Once in Kawhia we drove past a couple of campsite and headed straight for the campsite we had been aiming for – Kawhia Campground. It was a nice little campsite, with semi-permanant caravans with their virtually permanent awnings / conservatories built onto them surrounding a grassy area in the middle for campers. The owners / hosts were very helpful and friendly and we were soon set up, hooked up to the electricity and able to wamr our steak and cheese pie up in the microwave in the kitchen.
At $28 for the night it wasn’t expensive either and had all the facilities we needed. We’d come to Kawhia because there was another hot water beach nearby and the owners of the campsite even said we could use their spades free of charge the next day to go in search of the spring. The birdsong in the campsite tonight was amazing too. I only wish I knew what each of the birds were as some of them have impressive songs but I have no idea what the birds that make them look like.
After dinner we took a short walk into town along a track beside the harbour. Darkness fell as we did so and we returned via torchlight. Our beds were now calling so it was off to the toilets before settling down for the night. During our trip I’d noticed that the lights of toilet blocks are a great attractant of moths. As a moth recorder this meant that I could often be found entering the toilet blocks with a camera in hand looking at around the lights for unusual or interesting moths. You don’t really want to get a reputation for entering mens toilets with a camera but the moths there were interesting. They are of course all different to the moths we get here in the UK, but they are also all strangely familiar. I didn’t really take photos of many of them, but tonights star was the common Cabbage Tree Moth (Epiphryne verriculata). As their name suggest they feed on the Cabbage Tree (Cordyline Australis), a plant that we have in the garden at home.