Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. We're sailing up and down the east coast of Australia after a summer back in Britain.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

That's the 4th lighthouse bagged

We decided on a quick road trip, south and east, for a few days before we get into the final rush of preparations for sailing back to Fiji. An overnight stay with Shona and Malcolm in Tauranga en route allowed us to join them for a 'National Theatre Live' screening of the Steinbeck play 'Of Mice and Men' in their local arts cinema. We'd never seen these screenings, which are filmed in a normal theatre performance (in this case on Broadway) but we were blown away by this one!

From Tauranga we drove further south and then East to follow the coast road to East Cape, a wild and sparsely-populated corner of the country. It's not on the way to anywhere so many people bypass it and the small communities are almost completely Maori.

We stayed in a wonderfully ramshackle Backpackers' hostel, the Maraehako Bay Retreat run by Pihi and his family. It looks a little as though it has been constructed from some of the huge amounts of driftwood to be found on this coast and has its own beach just yards in front of the building. When we arrived a brisk NW wind was driving a pretty impressive surf into the bay and it sounded as though the sea would burst into our ground floor room during the night!

Part of the hostel - our room is the one with the open door

The surf exploding on the rocks just in front of our room
The drive further east the following morning was in perfect, bright sunshine and we enjoyed some spectacular views, both natural and man-made.

On a wild and rocky promontory we spied a brilliant white wooden church

Raukokore Anglican Church is just beautifully located. A notice inside apologised for the 'fishy smell' near the font caused by penguins nesting under the church!

In the immaculately-tended graveyard, Maori first names have some very Scottish-sounding surnames. This trio of graves only hints at a tragedy for one family. Three brothers, aged 19, 22 and 27 'accidentally killed' on the same day. A car accident or a fishing disaster perhaps?
 Our quest was the most easterly lighthouse on mainland New Zealand (we've already walked to the most northerly, westerly and southerly), at East Cape.

The tower stands 14m high and was built in 1900

Unusually, it's built of cast iron

It originally stood on East Island, behind Dianne' right shoulder, but earthquakes saw the cliffs slipping away below it and, in 1922, it was dismantled and moved to its current site. How?!! The lighthouse keepers must have been pleased, anyway. 
After a second night in the hostel we drove back towards civilisation. En route we passed a beach where the sea appeared to be steaming:

It was a cold morning (the wind has swung around to the SW so is arriving from Antarctica)

The warm water creating fog

You can see why NZ was used for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films!
So it's been a lovely few days of exploration and we'd like to come back and spend more time here. Tomorrow we call in at the town of Whangarei (the Dentist beckons!) on the way back to Maunie in Opua.

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