Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Sunrise, Sunset...

Fruit, coffee and toast spread with fresh avocado for breakfast!

We left Bella and did a little walk, which we both have to say was pants, we were wearing the wrong shoes (so got wet feet due to the dew on the grass) the ‘fabulous’ lookout was ok, but there was no information about Capt Cook (like I’m bothered anyway!)(B: The only information was a plaque right next to the campsite announcing “Ngati Wakarara, the people of Anaura Bay welcomed Lt. James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour on 20th October 1769 with hospitality, co-operation and friendship”. So I’m a bit confused, according to various plaques, Anaura Bay states a date of 20th October, he was in Tolaga Bay on 24th to 30th October and Cook Cove on 23rd to 29th October! I suppose that as Tolaga Bay and Cook Cove are within walking distance the Endeavour anchored in Cook Cove and visits were made on foot to Tolaga Bay) 
The difficulty of getting an internet connection!
we assumed we’d reached the worst of it when we had to cross the stream rather than the bridge due to subsidence beneath the bridge, but no, many muddy stream crossings later we got back to the van! Oh well, popped back to the camp for a quick wee (and one more set of Bella cuddles) and headed up the coast. At our lunch stop we finally got some internet connectivity, so posted the previous blog, and a quick email to mum to prevent worry.

The biggest Pohutukawa tree in NZ, in the grounds of a school in Te Araroa
It was a pleasant drive, but we arrived a little late to do the 20km of dirt track to the lighthouse on the eastern most point, plus I knew B wanted to see sunrise, so we could be the first people to see it, so off to the campsite, there were two in the book, but unfortunately only the one we’d been warned about was open, in theory, though no one was there, we ended up pottering in and out and roundabout before finally admitting defeat and deciding we had to pay the $34 that just seemed too much, for the general state of the camp, particularly the kitchen. I mentioned this to the bloke and got told he didn’t care if we stopped or not, it was up to us, but it’s easy to say that while knowing there is nowhere else within a good hour of travel! Oh well I guess in 6 months one horrible camp and owner is actually pretty impressive, and we need something to whinge about! B: The Te Araroa Holiday Camp is in a good location, but is scruffy, expensive and run by an insolent man who really couldn't care less! A pity as there is no alternative within at least an hour's drive each way and it could be so much better.

The lighthouse before dawn
In order to get to the top of the 750+ steps at the lighthouse to see the sun rise at 0700 we set the alarm for 0545, 15 mins to get up and an hour to do the drive and the walk in. We were at the top in plenty of time, 15 mins to spare before watching the sun rise in a completely clear blue sky. It was lovely, even for a non-morning person like me! Headed back for breakfast (well we had to use as much of his electricity and hot water as possible) and were still on or way before 0930. The camp didn’t seem so bad this morning after B’s complete sense of humour failure last night, but even so!

B: It was quite a rush, as we set off the horizon showed the first signs of getting light, a red band across the sky and deep blue above, gradually increasing in intensity as we drove. 20km along a narrow winding road with at least half of it on gravel with drops to the Pacific ocean on one side and free roaming cattle and horses on the road, all the time with the pressure of the ever lightening sky made an interesting drive. Jackie didn’t complain too much, but I saw her holding on on a few occasions. At last we got to the car park, but the lighthouse was atop a very big hill with 760 odd steps. 
Now quite light but on the wrong side of the hill to see if the sun had risen, we set off at a pace with the thought ‘will we make it before sunrise?’ Nothing like pressure to keep you going and I was going up sometimes two steps at a time, stopping twice due to gasping breath and thumping heart rate. I finally could see the lighthouse, climbed the last few steps to the top to see… quite a light sky, but no sun yet. In fact it was another 10 minutes before it peeked its head above the horizon – and magnificent it was too! A clear view across the Pacific, with nothing (save some South Pacific islands) between us and South America. 
Here we were, some of the first people in the world to welcome the new day (in this case Monday 13th October 2013), being so close to the International Date Line. Yes I know there are a few islands that saw it before (Fiji, Cook Islands, plus a few others) and some would say that some of the high mountains behind us would have seen it before us, but I was happy we were as far east as we could get in New Zealand, no-one else was there and we watched it alone!

The lighthouse hill casting its shadow from the early morning sun as we descended the steps

Roaming horses on the coastal road to the lighthouse - a bit of a hazard in the dark!
A seal catching the early morning sun

One of the northern most points of East Cape. Very isolated

The same bay at Lotin Point

He might be hiding, but we saw him!

Waihau Bay (where the NZ film 'Boy' was filmed
On the rocks by the Pacific with fish and chip supper
We had the pretty coastal bit of the drive today (well the first half of it anyway) popping off here and there to look at beautiful remote bays, very, very pleasant. We arrived at the Te Kaha camp by lunchtime, early even for us, but it has given us the opportunity to do a load of washing in preparation for heading off to Oz. We had lunch looking out at White Island, B’s second obsession to Cook, where he decided the sun was going to set, so after a quick recce, we ordered our fish and chip (and scallop, mussel and squid) supper, packed a cushion and the wine and headed off to some rocks to watch the sun set.

So, avid reader, if any of you were worried, I can assure you romance is alive and kicking!

Sunset - white island is just to the right
B: To watch sunrise and sunset on the same day, both of them over the ocean is pretty rare, it means access to an east facing coast in the morning and west facing coast in the evening. We were lucky as the East Cape is just that, looking directly out east on the one side and out into the Bay of Plenty on the other side with, for us about 3 hours of driving in between. I couldn’t believe how perfectly positioned we were to see the sun set just to the left of White Island, it was just a pity it wasn’t puffing out more smoke, but we saw enough to recognise it as an active volcano. 

We could have sat there on the rocks until complete darkness, but two things took us away: 1) We wouldn’t have been able to see to climb back over the rocks (didn’t think of taking a headtorch, only sunglasses!) and, 2) The shop shut at 6:00pm and we wanted an ice cream to finish off our fish and chips and white wine dinner!

The end of a perfect day!

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