Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Two Boating Weekends

25 March
It’s a warm sunny day and we probably won’t have too many more of them, so today we decide to go kayaking. We make enquiries online and book ourselves into a river trip which follows the Puhoi River from Puhoi, the Bohemian Village, down to the coast at Wenderholm Regional Park. It should be fairly easy going because it’s a tidal river: you set off at high tide and the river takes you down. We were given basic instruction on how to paddle, life jackets were donned, money exchanged hands, and off we went.

Right from the start it was uncomfortable, and knowing we were encased in the kayaks, completely immobile from the waist down, was a bit worrying. If you wriggled to give your spine a stretch you were in danger of capsizing so it wasn’t a good idea. Should have been idyllic really: slowly drifting down river with nothing but a few ducks for company, the occasional kingfisher flashing past, and cows lumbering on the banks; but unfortunately the physical discomfort took the edge off it . . . and it was even tougher for Mike with his 6’ 2” frame.

Yes, this is me doing my stuff on the Puhoi

However we were learning to steer and managed not to get entangled in over-hanging branches or hit the banks or each other. So we reckon we did OK, but were very glad to get out the other end where our hosts gave us and our kayaks a lift back to Puhoi.

We were picked up at the end of the trip and sat like Mum & Dad in the front of the van with all the youngsters in the back

We then enjoyed a good lunch at the famous Puhoi Pub, and drove back down to Wenderholm for a wander round the park. Wenderholm was the first of Auckland’s Regional Parks (there are now at least 26), it’s a lovely piece of land which includes some original bush, a large family homestead, open to the public, with landscaped grounds, and a fabulous beach. It’s situated between two rivers: the Waiwera and the Puhoi which of course we now know quite well.

On the way home we stopped at the Waiwera Hot Thermal Pools. There are about 8 pools of differing temperatures from ridiculously hot to only just warm. The idea was to relax our bodies after the kayaking adventure.

1 April
We’ve had this west coast boat trip booked for ages. It’s a trip up into the Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand’s largest volume of inland water. It’s an enormous natural harbour with loads of streams and rivers running into it and quite a narrow entrance, partly blocked by an underwater sand spit which has caused no end of ship wrecks in the past.

It’s a pretty good day for it and we drive north-west past Helensville at the southern end of the harbour, up to Shelly Beach. We’re driving up a peninsular which is very similar to the Awhitu, on the south-west side of Manukau Harbour. Set sail at 9am and head north, with the captain doing an informal history of the place over the PA. The harbour was a hive of activity from the 1860s up to the 1940s by which time the surrounding area had been pretty much stripped of kauri trees, which were floated down river to the harbour, loaded onto sailing ships, and sent off overseas.

Dropping off at Poutu Point

Watching the flock of terns

More fantastic drift wood on the beach

It’s about a 2 hour boat journey up to Pouto Point on the southern end of North Head. You can clearly see the sand spit covering a large area of the harbour mouth and the currents are strong here so it gets pretty rough. We’re dropped off on the beach and left to our own devices for a couple of hours, during which time we wander up the beach, finding a good spot for lunch, watching a huge flock of terns by the water’s edge. Not quite enough time to get as far as the famous lighthouse but its a terrific beach walk. The boat ride back gets a bit choppy and a few of the little kids are sick, but the sun is still shining brightly.

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