Spirits Bay 15th December

If the Maori spirits come back as mosquitoes or sand flies it would explain why the air was humming with them last night. We thought our worst encounter was Russia but these come in as a very strong contender for the title. Then again it could just be that after 3 months of drought the rains have bought them out. It leads to our second problem in the wee small hours however, a possum up close and personal trying to get in our panniers for the food. We tried the usual roaring but this just delayed things this blighter was persistent. In the end we had to deet up and remove all food from the panniers put it in our dry bag and have it in the tent with us, there then ensued a killing spree for the next hour of the sand flies that had dived into the tent for the micro second the door was open, life’s a beach!!
Of course we forgot about the rubbish bag we had hung from the tree a little way away but figured we’d clean that mess up in the morning. Possum this close is bad news, like a cross between a rat and a monkey highly destructive, they are vermin out here but protected in Oz. They are not indigenous here and somebody a long time ago thought it would be a good idea to introduce them from Australia. The result was disastrous all NZs critters and birds suddenly had a new hunter that they were totally unprepared for and a lot almost met with extinction, so much so that national parks have started an eradication program so things like kiwis have a chance again.
The veil of early morning mist is slowly ebbing away and we catch our first glimpse of this magical place, our camping area is right on the sea front the last patch of grass before the dunes. Climbing the stile we tramp along the short stubby grass that clings to life here it’s roots in the sand. Passing alongside a lake we see small minnows which dart quickly away it is obviously tidal as a line of driftwood marks high tide. It gets progressively more sandy as we pass the dunes our boots sinking in once the top crust has been broken then we reach the firmer sand band washed regularly by the sea. The bay stretches out before us the only other footprints are from the gulls. There is a rocky outcrop which we head for at the edge of the bay, from this vantage point we can look out to sea and across the bay at our footprints. The sun is bringing beads of sweat to the surface of our bodies we look at each other and silently we hold hands as we make our way slowly back along the beach to the bike leaving this magical place as we found it.
We ride back up the 16kms of gravel road and turn back towards the Cape in the hope the weather is kinder for photos than yesterday. Half way the mist and cloud descend, by the time we reach the already full car park we can see that it is no better if not worse so we about turn and head south.
Back at Awanui we pull into a Kauri showroom famous for it’s staircase. The Kauri stump was positioned first and the building erected around it, then the inside was carved out into a circular staircase winding up the inside. As a centre piece it is magnificent as are many of the carvings, bowls and knick knacks on sale.
Next stop is for some food!!

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