06 February 2012

New Zealand Chronicles | Day At The Beaches

9 December 2011

Everything was just as amazing when we woke up that Friday morning. I used the provided french press to make coffee. I ate a banana & granola bar (because even then I recognized I needed to get my health under some sort of control) and I had breakfast in New Zealand. I only say that because it was so normal, other than being in a beach house with access to a private beach. Maybe my life will lead me to a place where this doesn't impress me. It's possible my future holds unlimited beach houses and private beaches. But at this point, it's still amazing and I will not allow myself to downplay it. I had breakfast in New Zealand.

Then I washed the dishes.

We think part of the trade off for the bach is that it can be shown at any time during the day. The onus is then on the guests to make sure the place is in its best shape at all times. We tidied. We packed for the day. We were off to the beach.

It's funny to me how Angie gets excited about beaches. She says things like "X Beach is supposed to be AH - MAZING," as if Y Beach is anything less than AH - MAZING. I recognize each beach is different; even now I can look at pictures tell which sandy shoreline is which. But I recognize them as all amazing, meaning equally amazing. I feel like Angie sees something more, and therefore differentiates them in a way that is hidden from me. The woman is an enigma wrapped in a mystery folks, and we've been friends since 1991. On the second Friday of December 2011, after I had breakfast (and after Angie decided not to bring the provided boogie board), we drove. 

In the passenger's seat, doing my thing.
Out first stop was Taupo Bay, which doesn't even have its own website. It was an overcast day and our thinking was that the clouds needed time to burn off and reveal the sunlight. So we were patient. Once again we had the beach nearly to ourselves. We walked dangerously close to potentially chilly water. We started stalking birds. In our defense, the birds were too cute. The had long beaks and were obviously eating something in the sand, though we never saw what. They hopped and ran - very pedestrian for creatures capable of flight. 

Me. Looking at stuff.

About to meet its demise.
We also found a shell that was still attached. We decided to each take a half. You may recall I once wrote about an inherent American need to see something beautiful and destroy it? Well this was that. I put the shell in my bag for future dissection. 

Taupo Bay was one of a few places that reminded me of Middle Earth. Most of the New Zealand landscape reminded me of Jurassic Park. But the area bordering the beach at Taupo Bay looked as though it could house Orks, no question. I'm not sure if that came through in the pictures, but if you go there, you'll agree. 
Bird.

Bird prints.
Orks.
I see a tree. You?
It's like a forest on the shore.
At least that's what I saw.
Somehow, a stop at the bay brought us to lunch time. We went back to the one-street town of Mangonui, for the best fish & chips in Doubtless Bay. Mangonui is a fishing town. And logic dictates such a town has the best fish and chips. No, Angie does not eat fish (have you learned nothing?) but she did know of something she would eat at the fish shop. Plus there was nowhere else to eat. We looked. 

The fish shop was cool. Very "small town fish shop." There was a fish of the day (snapper) and it could be ordered with fries or a slaw or cold, mayo based salad. Everything served hot came fried. All the condiments had to be purchased. Alcoholic beverages had to be purchased at the bar. The seating was walled in and I think covered with a plastic sheeting or a tarp. It was perfect. It was perfect before I discovered the RTDs.

Listen up America, we need to get on top of this. The RTDs are genius. They're pre-mixed cocktails sold like cans or bottles of beer. The alcohol to soda ratio is already matched. No over serving. It's brilliant. I mean that. Also, mighty delicious.

The snapper & chips.
Very delicious.
I did it for my friend.
This sort of silliness makes her laugh.
Let's see. I had eaten. I had been to the beach. I had eaten again. It was clearly time to go to another beach. It was actually time to go to the beach, the one put forth on our agenda from the previous day. We set out to meet the sun at Matai Bay, which also does not even have its own website. The woman who ran the bach recommended it, but that was of course after Angie had decided we were to go to there. The girl does her research.

We stopped at another beach along the way. I mean we did have time to kill waiting for sunshine, and it was on the way. We were dressed for the weather we wanted, which was not the weather we had. I can tell you one thing about Tokerau Bay. It's windy. We saw areas for windsurfers. But I think windsurfers can take off from almost anywhere. Takapuna, for instance. This was not that. Tokerau was windy. The sand was hard. The houses along the road were closed up and / or for sale. It was he harshest vacation spot I had seen for my entire trip. And yet, still pretty.

The hard, windswept sand.
Pohutukawa
On our way to the right beach at the bay.
We arrived at the bay, and after a little climb, we set up shop. I opted to buy a four pack of Woodstock RTDs, because that's the brand that sponsored the Fight for Life I'd witnessed a week prior. It was (what I imagined to be) an authentic Kiwi moment. We were on a remote beach, enjoying intermittent sunshine and having a cocktail. Sweet as.


Woody in my chilly bin.