Henderson Bay, New Zealand

It's been a strange two weeks. We've been doing a lot of hours for Cath & John; cleaning the cabin (a living area that was a garage) which hasn't been occupied for a long time so that Dawn (John's mum) could move in; the water system in the hostel failed and took a few days to sort out, generally cleaning and spring cleaning the hostel, cleaning the hen house out, cutting back the growth from the track to the cliff tops etc.
We managed to have a couple days off a week. The first week as I've already written we went to the Cape etc.
Friday 23rd Nov was our next day off we went diving (woo hoo!) We hired tanks and weights from A-Z diving at Karikari who gave us advice on some shore dives. We went to the Sponge gardens at Rangiputa and did two dives there, it was really pretty although we got in a little late and got the tide which made it a bit harder going and difficult to remain in one spot whist taking photo's. It was great to finally get to test the new camera and underwater housing out that I got in Panama. We still need some practice but most of the pictures came out really well. We were absolutely knackered when we got back, but really pleased with ourselves.
Saturday 24th After a really bad storm Robert found a tiny baby duck on the back deck, investigations revealed him to be a paradise duck and only about a day old, he still had his egg tooth on the end of his beak. Robert immediately became mother. I think the attachment was mutual. We looked after him during the day and all night, when we were up every few hours feeding him. Cath thought about keeping him but it wouldn't have been practical, Rob & I would be leaving soon and who would look after him when they went back to Canada? We decided to take him to a bird sanctuary where he'd be properly looked after and hopefully released to the wild when old enough.
Last Wednesday (28th Nov) we took D-Fer to a bird rescue place about an hours drive away, we were both very sad to see him go but knew it was for the best. Robert was so attached and D-Fer followed him everywhere, but we knew we couldn't take him with us when we left and we knew that Cath would find it hard to look after him properly on top of everything else that she has to deal with. The place is owned by Alex and his wife, he's Scottish but lived in NZ for 50 years. His place is huge and after a swift handing over of D-Fer, that prevented us getting emotional about it, and Alex telling us that D-Fer is actually a girl! We were given a tour. We had a lovely time with him, he's a really interesting guy and has so much going on with various animals, he showed us another paradise duck that he has. This is a boy about 8 weeks old, Alex hopes that he and D-Fer will pair up and stay together when she's old enough to be released.... Bless!
After dragging ourselves away we headed back up the Karikari Peninsular to the Karikari Winery. It's situated just below Matai Bay and the house is set on top of a hill that has the most amazing vista. It did help that the sun was blazing and the sea and sky were clear blue, there were just a few wispy clouds to soften the effect, perfect. How could this perfection be improved upon? Steak pie and a wine tasting I say, marvellous! This was such a relaxing lunch, I didn't want to move on, but move on we did.
Just passed Taipa (on highway 10) is Matthews Vintage Collection. Outside is an ostrich (which laid on egg in front of us!) and inside a huge shed is Matthews lifelong collection of everything old. Cars, tractors, engines, farm equipment, domestic items and musical instruments. Oh, and Chico the very noisy parrot. This place was great, Robert loved it and Matthew was really excited to show everything off to us and tell us the stories behind them. He had a pianola which he demonstrated, we could've had a sing -a-long, but we didn't! although Chico the parrot did, and an old engine which he cracked up for us. Big smiles!
Then back to the hostel where Rob was enlisted to fit the temporary replacement water pump. (some day off!)

The plumber was called to fix the water problem, and everything was back on track.
Last Sunday (2nd Dec) We had a coffee in our fav. coffee shop in Awanui and had a chat about how much work we were doing and decided to ring Cath & John and ask if we could talk to them that night about it, all worked out fine as they felt we'd worked a lot too, good thing was we firmed up how many hours we're to do a day so now we know when we can stop and go to the beach or for a walk etc.
We then had a drive through Kaitaia (which was closed as it was Sunday) and onto Ahipara. This is a little town but has a great shop where you can rent surf boards, quad bikes and other "cool" stuff! Of course we didn't partake as we are saving our pennies for scuba. This is also one of the access roads onto 90 mile beach. This had really nice views of the coastline.
We next drove to Shipwreck bay, the access road is a dark red gravel track and is very steep and bendy, a bit scary! But sooooo worth it, the bay here is great. The hills curve right round in a big sweeping arc which looks over a clean tidy beach with rocks and rock pools framing the outer edges. There were folk whizzing around on quads, fishing, body-boarding, swimming and a few had driving their 4x4's onto the beach and around the far peninsular to fish. The sun was really hot but there was a lovely breeze coming of the sea (don't worry we wore plenty factor 45!)
On our way out of Ahipara, we picked up Anna, Julika and Andrea, hitch-hikers from Germany. The were making their way to Whangarei. We were able to take them as far as a place called Mangamuka. This was in actual fact a junction near a church and a couple houses in the distance, we were a little worried about leaving them here, but they were happy to have been brought this far and it was still early so they should get a next ride quickly enough. We turned left, on a map it looked like a British B-road... it was one the famous gravel roads that are around the area and it went on for miles, we were glad it was daylight and we had a full tank of fuel, we kept an eye out for mad-axe men and talking dogs. However, as dodgy as the road was, so the scenery was beautiful, it actually look English in some places, including dairy cows!
We passed a place called Otangaroa and eventually hit the main highway 10 just before Kahoe, turned left and headed to Mangonui . This town was a great surprise, it has a small fuel station and several bar / restaurants, a couple of estate agents, several shops and Mangonui's famous fish & chip shop. We had a little drive around and saw some really nice houses (I bet they cost a mint) we found our favourite. Then after all the daydreaming we went for the famous fish & chips. They were great, skinned & boned and fried fresh whilst you wait and they had a bar too! Although I must admit I prefer a cuppa tea with f&c I managed to force a glass of red wine and Robert a glass of beer down.
We then did a quick stop at Cable Bay, which is right on the road side, and watched some kids body-boarding, before heading back.
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