|Everyone has gone by 10am, the field seems strangely quiet and Rhondda’s very small tent somehow appears even smaller now it’s standing alone in the big empty field.
We leave everything here and jump on the Vulcan for a quick spin down to Piha beach, there is a rock here called Lions Head Rock. It is a vast jutting slab, a good imagination is needed to see the lions head but we are informed that it’s mane glows in the sunsets. The tides and rip currents are notoriously bad here so we don’t chance a swim but the beach is nice. Later we go back to the campground and decide to take a bush walk as there are lots of trails around here. All the signs say don’t go without a map, tell someone etc. Not having access to this we go anyway but are cautious about our route. It is a great walk right in the heart of the bush, small tracks and tall Kauri trees (native but under threat from disease so we have to spray our boots) after a long climb we reach a grassy crossroads with four tracks connecting, two men who passed us earlier are here. We are introduced to the no nonsense manner of kiwis as one barrages me with all kinds of personal questions, luckily I don’t mind and we have an interesting chat. The upshot of this is he gives us a detailed map of the tracks and advice on a off piste route that will involved jumping into pools and going down a waterfall we are intrigued.
Somehow we missed the off piste route I guess it was well hidden as we looked for it. Half of me was relieved as I have never dived before and I was a bit apprehensive. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk anyhow and now we are back at camp we have a hearty appetite. Jumping back on the bike we arrive at the cafe, the grill has just closed but we get the last two lasanges and bread and butter pudding which is much more like an all fruits pudding and delious.
A nice suprise awaits us at the site, the caretaker says we can sleep in the clubhouse instead of Rhondda’s tent. We happily accept this kind offer as along with two beds it has all the mod cons including wifi so I skype my parents for a long overdue chat. It also has a large flatscreen tv with an sd card slot so we can look at some of the video we have taken along the route and never had chance to watch.let alone edit.
Next morning we see if we can extend our stay by one more day, a quick phone call later to the owners and as long as we are out by 8am it’s ok. We head to Henderson and buy a sim card for our mobile, so much easier now we speak the same language.
One thing we like about NZ they don’t mess around with place names, roads etc. North of Auckland is Northland, the Far North is just that so the road here called scenic drive lives up to expectations.
Back late afternoon to the site we walk to the waterfall. It is one of the most impressive in NZ half an hour later we see this four story drop into a secluded pool. Kev strips to his pants and wades in peering out from under the waterfall. He returns saying it was bracing but good fun. I Umm and Ahh for a while, I don’t want to have nothing dry to put on as its a half hour walk back and it is already 6pm. I strip off and wade in, he’s right it is good the water falling on my head is freezing but as long as I keep swimming I’m fine. I dry off in minutes so I can get dressed before I get cold what an experience!! How often do you get a chance to do that ?
We spend another night uploading photos this time listening to a howling gale all around with the rain to boot.
In the morning we thank our hosts profusely, they are Christian missionaries and have been very kind to us allowing us to stay for free and giving us things like tea and coffee that we were running out of. We are heading north on highway 16 the rain has eased but it is still spitting, we will just have to get wet legs as our leggings are with our bike but at least it’s not cold.