The forecast was for stormy weather which was the perfect conditions for seeing surf beaches. The Street Triple stayed safely tucked up at home and we headed off in Jennie's MX 5 to stay at our Auckland-based son's house to get an early start the next day. The first surprise was when our daughter arrived unexpectedly (also Auckland-based) to take me out to a show as an an advance birthday present for later in the month. And what a show it was!!! The famous UK comedian and classically-trained musician Bill Bailey was giving a one-man performance and I'd have to say that it was one of the most memorable I'd ever been to. Laughed until I hurt all over and his musical talent with all manner of instruments was unbelievable. Clearly a lot of collusion among the family to get me there and something deeply appreciated. For those who have never seen Bill Bailey at work, the short following clip is an example of both his deadpan humour and musical talent Cow Bells. His hour-long YouTube Guide to the Orchestra is outstanding.
The next morning, we set off for Muriwai, the northernmost of the surf beaches and the GPS decided to try and send us 576 km south to an unknown Muriwai Road which was clearly not our intended destination! There are times to trust your intuition and we found the proper destination pretty much by dead reckoning. From then on, the GPS behaved impeccably! The stay wasn't a long one despite the really impressive surf as the wind was picking up huge amounts of sand and with no shelter, the car was getting a real hiding, not to mention black sand getting in our mouth, hair and eyes, the moment we stepped outside!
Next stop Bethells Beach, some 30 km away by road. The roads in this area are narrow and winding through native bush but during spring, the bush is dotted with flowering trees and the spectacular native clematis shown in the next photo.
NZ native Clematis
Bethell's Beach - the perfect weather to visit
White shell and black sand contrast
Wind erosion on the dunes
At the far end of the beach, there was a warning about quicksand.........
How's your insurance, honey????
Time to visit the next beach south for a late lunch. Piha is the most frequented of the west coast surf beaches and is featured in an annual surf lifesaving TV series, mainly featuring young, bulletproof foreign tourists who deliberately ignore instructions to swim between the flags and make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Piha from the lookout
There's a good mix of permanent and holiday homes in the hills at Piha. The smaller holiday homes are known as baches, apparently a contraction of the old phrase "bachelor pads" from long ago when mining and logging operations etc provided basic accommodation for single men.
Typical NZ coastal baches
A few hardy surfers, despite the cold conditions
Our accommodation that evening was nestled in native bush in the hills overlooking Karekare beach. NZ IAM member Keith (HD Sportster) and his wife Ann own a beautiful home with separate high quality visitor accomodation. Keith was at work in the city when we arrived but Ann welcomed us with fresh chocolate cake and settled us in. It's a beautiful location full of native birds and views to die for. There's also an outdoor heated spa pool in the bush for a romantic evening...... or any time come to that ;-).
View from the front garden
The guest lounge
View from the bedroom
Keith and Ann are the most wonderful hosts and next morning, we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast of fresh fruits, cereals and toast. We would loved to have stayed longer but alas, we had friends to meet south of Auckland so bid our reluctant goodbyes. Very happy to recommend Lone Kauri Lodge as it's an oasis of tranquillity with great walking tracks and beaches nearby. IAM members even get a good discount!!!
All in all, a wonderful trip exploring Auckland's wild west coast and hope you've enjoyed the journey.....