Saturday, September 23, 2017

Coromandel Town

We awoke to a lost hour today. Spring forward, with no advance warning except we knew it was the solstice yesterday and it never occurred to us. So we checked out at 11 instead of 10, but I don't think anyone noticed.
Thoughts of Tippi Hedron (these gulls are aggressive).

A couple final shots of the family homestead in Kuaotunu. This glassed enclosure borders the new deck and gives the feeling of being utterly outside.

The upstairs master bath, where there's still more glass and two strategically placed mirrors, is perched amongst the foliage, making you feel like you're brushing your teeth in a rainforest.

We drove to Coromandel Town today, across the peninsula. Here's a map (click here if reading in email to view map).

Here's the harbor approach.
First stop in town, the Coromandel Smoking Company.

 We took a nice piece of the Trevally on the right and a wee taste of the smoked eel.

Art chose some smoked scallops, from the bay right here. Also the mussel pate.

The morning-after election news not what we'd hoped for (what else is new--at least English isn't an overt racist and hoo-boy that's a low bar). The politics is more complex than ours (reminding me a Kiwi once said to me: you mean you have only two candidates?!).  Read more about it here.

Prime Minister Bill English’s National Party won the largest number of votes in Saturday’s general election, securing a comfortable margin over the Labour opposition after what had shaped as one of the closest votes in recent history. 

But it was Peters and his often controversial New Zealand First Party who emerged in a position of power, with both National and Labour needing his support to form a government under New Zealand’s proportional representation system.

We'll try for a little Coromandel Town history tomorrow, but for now suffice to say gold was found here in 1852.

There was a small art show here, which we enjoyed. There are something like 40 artists in this tiny town and the show was the result of individuals coming out of their studios and working alongside each other over the winter.

Look at this tree!
 Just published, and Flintoff is a local (Amazon link).

 Work day tomorrow, campers. More when we have it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Grandfather's Place in Kuaotunu

Kia ora and happy election day from NZ. We've had a couple of rainy days here, moving into the old family home across the street from Ben's cool airbnb before the skies let loose yesterday.

This one is a comfortable, rambling homestead, mature gardens all around and planted nooks and crannies everywhere. There is birdsong from dawn through dusk.

Art built a roaring fire last night to take the chill off. And we ate duck confit in front of it.

Today was a freshly washed wonder, a blue-sky Saturday, election day. How much sense voting on a Saturday makes. New Zealanders can even vote in some grocery stores.

It takes two minutes to walk to town.

Remember the beach book exchange "under the big trees near the large house that's being built"? Well, we found it, handsomely made from what Art thinks is a dock bumper.

We had a big beach walk and decided to try Luke's Kitchen for its (internationally famous) wood-fired pizza.

It's a chill spot right next to the cafe, and relatively busy this Saturday, when voters are out and weekenders too. Nothing compared to summer months, though. Our host told us the town of Kuaotunu goes from 3000 souls in winter to 30,000 in high season (though surely they don't all come one a single day).

Luke's is just across the street from the beach.

The Moroccan lamb pizza was a treat, its tzatisiki drizzle a nice touch.

The late Clifford Brian Heraud is the man who bought the house and planted the grounds here where we're staying. He started Kauri 2000 to replant the magnificent kauri trees (in almost impossible numbers) on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Here's a video on this visionary man (if reading in email click here to view vid).

While a school group plants seedlings, the founder of the Kauri 2000 Trust talks about how it all started. The Trust operates on the Coromandel Peninsular in New Zealand's North Island. It organises volunteers to plant seedlings of the magnificent kauri tree, the second largest tree in the world. Over 12 years or so, the trust has planted over 30,000 seedlings on protected public land. The objective is to replace something of the kauri forests decimated by logging over two centuries.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NZ Jet Fuel Shortage + All In The Family (or Preparing to Move Across The Street)

Kia ora, everyone! Some of you have asked about the jet fuel pipeline rupture that's causing rationing and a cut-back in flights here. Here's a follow-up to the story, with a video response from Labour candidate Jacinda Ardern that seems sensible (even if it's clearly a blame-the-guy-in-power move).

The pipeline carried all Auckland's aviation fuel to a depot near the airport until it ruptured last week leading to fuel rationing for airlines, which have been forced to cancel and re-route flights.

McNaught said alternative transport arrangements were still a "work in progress" and the priority remained cutting demand to 30 per cent of usual from airlines at the airport through reduced flying or aircraft taking on fuel at other New Zealand airports or those in Australia or the Pacific.

Meantime, beautiful here in Kuaotunu and how grateful we are to have a string of days in which we don't move anywhere in a car. We did a lot more of this on the South Island with the caravan, staying in a single location for days or even weeks at a time, exploring locally on foot and in the car. The very definition of slow travel.

 First-meal stir fry w fresh turmeric

We did some laundry today and then went for a stroll on the beach. As I write, I can hear the call and response of mother sheep to their babies (and vice versa) high on the nearby hills. It wasn't until we walked Mount Maunganui (and took all those lamb pictures) that I fully understood that the moms will bleat and bleat until the little one recognizes her call and comes running. And the babies the same.

The walk to town from our airbnb

You'll recall I asked Ben, who built the place we're in, for more days, but he's booked. He suggested we stay a couple more days in his grandfather's house across the street, where he grew up. It's also an airbnb, an old-school beauty by the look of it and another great value. Click here to view the listing (uh, it looks like 11 more people could join us--takers?). Plus, the gardens!

We walked into town, which consists of a wee store, a coffee place, and a wood-fired pizza resto. Plus this haircutter-in-a-caravan called Schnipp Schnapp.

And then to the beach across the road.

Modest beach houses dot the dunes. Today I asked someone at the local store about books. She said: there's a beach swap library in a tree near that large house being built. I completely missed it but it's intriguing enough to go find it.

Toward the end of the beach, solidified lava flows.

Note "Coromandel No Mining." I'm not certain where this is being proposed.

It's a cozy cafe.

Luke's Kitchen is something of a landmark here, open only on the weekends in winter. We might try it.

Book in cafe

Art found yet another brand of charcoal he's trying out today. They all cook differently, but he's up to it.

Does this look like cooking to you?

Final note: good story (and marketing) on the Great Walk designation being applied to shorter jaunts. The Great Walks are all overnight, multiple-day treks and hikers stay in Dept of Conservation huts, which in summer you must reserve. That's a good aerial shot of Cathedral Cove, which we wrote about a couple days ago.