It was goodbye Putorino and hello to roads less travelled as we left the National Rally and drove up SH2 towards Wairoa. The trip was not rushed as the windy road snaked up and down one hill after another and we noticed more goats grazing in the paddocks than we had seen for some time. Most goats in New Zealand seem to be feral and hide away from hunters in inaccessible places, but these appeared to farmed goats. Bee hives were in abundance too, we saw them all over the place, the colourfully painted wooden beehives dotted here and there in paddocks. I was warned to get my camera ready as we approached the Mohaka Viaduct.
Three of us are travelling together for the next couple of weeks, and our first stop was Wairoa for lunch and to use the Dump Station. But it was a matter of “oh bother” when Robin noticed one of the caravan tyres was flat.
Things didn’t go smoothly as the bottle jack leaked hydraulic fluid and wouldn’t hold the caravan up without the jack being continually pumped up. It was “puckerood” said Robin, and will be replaced ASAP. Derek lent a hand, and the pair of them worked together, undoing bolts, lifting the flattie off and replacing it with the spare, and putting everything back together again.
Geoff and I had walked over the bridge to the “world famous in Wairoa” Oslers Bakery for some hot pies. It was obvious that this shop is the place to go to as we had to wait in line at the back of the queue while the locals stocked up on pies and pastries for their lunches. There were so many customers in line ahead of us that we were worried they would sell out of pies before we reached the counter. We remember stopping at the bakery many years ago on our last visit to Wairoa, so it is good to see this family business still going strong.
Wairoa is a pretty little town set on the Wairoa River. Surprisingly, this river town boasts a lighthouse slap bang in the middle of town, which is now an icon of Wairoa. The Portland Island Lighthouse was brought from Portland Island in 1961 where it was no longer needed when a fully automated light was installed.
With the tyre replaced, and our lunch consumed we continued on our way, driving the last 43km turning off at Nuhaka to reach Opoutama and Blue Bay where we are staying for the night. Many years ago Robin and I stayed here at the Blue Bay Motor Camp, set amongst pine trees and just a stone’s throw from the beautiful beach. Sadly, the motor camp and pines are now gone, and we understand that the development of the land is under dispute, although roading, footpaths and street lighting have been installed. It is sad to see an area which held such happy memories now looking so neglected and overgrown. But we had a short walk along the beach which is just as lovely as we remembered.
This is a good area for surfers and we met a young couple from Switzerland who are travelling around New Zealand with their baby daughter. They took turns riding the waves while the other stayed in the camper-van looking after their young child. Robin did wonder how people from land-locked Switzerland ever developed a taste for surfing. Like us, they are staying in this lovely beach spot overnight.
Freedom Camping is not usually for us, but this was such a pretty spot that we took our chances. Several other vehicles pulled in during the late afternoon, and the Swiss couple decided to move their van closer to us. Luckily nothing untoward happened during the night, and no hoons appeared to hassle us, thank goodness.
We took another walk around the former camp ground in the morning. Roads and footpath meander around the forgotten subdivision which is reverting to scrub and it all looks rather sad. Circular Maori stone carvings and carved totem poles are dotted around, so quite a lot of thought has gone into the planning stage before it all went belly-up.
We went back to camp for a last cuppa before departing. Honey and Muffy were both outside and carefully approached each other. After a slight hiss, they then decided that they would pretend the other wasn’t there, and sat apart, studiously ignoring each other.