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Monday, May 19, 2008

Matakana Coast, Part 1

Where do I begin…

K & I zipped away together this weekend. The Grandies were wonderful and looked after the boys. E was at a Kids’ Leadership Conference and L was very happy to lap up all the ‘dotingness’ lavished upon him by his lovely grandparents!

The Matakana Coast was simply beautiful. And the weather was amazing – perfect! In fact, some of the locals were saying that the weather this weekend was better than it had been all summer (even given that it’s been nothing short of amazing this summer!). There was so much to see, taste, experience, and do…..and yet, we seemed to have all the time in the world. It’s hard to explain. And naturally, the company was superb!

But I’m a bit stumped as to where to begin. This may have to be a multi-part posting, spread over a little while! As we drove northwards, our eyes enjoyed the visual feast of some spectacular countryside. K didn’t know where we were going as this was my year to organise things. He was on full sensory alert though, and the antennae never stopped fossicking for clues as to where we were heading!

Our first stop was Goat Island, a marine sanctuary with clear blue waters and a huge amount of sealife within its 800km range. In my snorkelling days, I recall standing on the edge of the beach with just my toes in the water, and blue Maomao (cute fish) were literally swimming around my feet. I was too scared to hop in lest I squashed a fish, there were so many of them! You only have to snorkel into the marine reserve and you can be surrounded by schools of huge fish, many of whom are substantially older than myself! And yet, fishermen will tell you that they can sit right on the boundary of the marine sanctuary, and get not a bite the whole day….clever fish!

Our snorkelling gear still in storage, we opted for the ‘above water’ option this time. The marine reserve has a glass bottomed boat which is perfect for viewing the sealife in the crystal clear waters. Anyway, with it being a working day, K and I and one other couple had the privilege of having the boat to ourselves on a perfectly calm day. The skipper was a mine of information and was obviously enjoying the opportunity to sail out on a perfect day. He knew all the right spots and was so interesting to listen to. We even sailed us into some huge caves in the boat, and patiently gave us much more time than on a normal trip. Although we didn’t see any orcas this time, the skipper told us of a memorable occasion when an orca swam under the glass bottom of the boat and flipped onto its side to view the boat’s occupants through the glass! Apparently, it was a general consensus that the orca was probably thinking, “Hmm...Canned food?!”.

After our trip on the boat, K dreamily confessed, that if he had life all over again, he would probably love to be a Marine Biologist! I wasn’t sure if he was getting his triggers confused….some of those Snappers looked rather delicious!! And as for the crayfish…With it being a Marine reserve, there is no fishing allowed within the boundaries. However, there were many stories about how the well-stocked ‘seafood supermarket’ proved too much of a lure to some…..

We had the better part of our afternoon wandering along the beaches at Goat Island, to our heart’s content. The sun was beautiful and warm, and bar a few snorkellers and picnickers, we had the place to ourselves. It was simply idyllic.

And now, you’ll have to wait for the rest…..

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