11 April 2007

Home sweet home!

It feels more and more like home every time we go out to Great Barrier. Looking down from the plane always blows me away... especially when we can see the bach clearly!! Not so this trip but we looked down over the settlement and couldn't wait until we had landed... home again! We had five days over there this time and couldn't wait to get started! The ealiest flight we were able to get onto was the 1:30 flight on Good Friday. We got a transfer up to the bach, dumped our gear and jumped in the wagon to head down the island to the wharf at Tryphena where friends were waiting for us at the wharf. They had taken the ferry over and rather than trying to figure out a way to get to the bach ... and where to find it... they waited for us to arrive and pick them up.

The kids were buzzing... "We saw a stingray!! Right in there... look there he is!! His name is Stumpy, he has no tail!! Cool eh?!"
Anna smiled and told us, "It's so beautiful" and we had to laugh, they hadn't even left the wharf and the Barrier Bug had bitten them already!
We all headed back to the bach where the tent was pitched and we showed our visitors where everything was.
Later on we went down to Okupu wharf where I went out to set the long line, our latest toy! While I was out doing that the other fished off the wharf in the hope of catching a few squid and maybe a fish or two for dinner. I pulled the long line in after a while with 3 small snapper, all of them went back to grow bigger for another day.

The next day we were treated to a stunning sunrise. Tom and Mel went out to set the long line again and while they were gone I took the kids for a walk up to the creek that is our water supply, then we left a note and headed down to the beach where they had a great time beachcombing. Luckily I'd brought along a plastic bag each for them to collect all the treasures they were finding, shells, sea eggs, crab bodies, fish skeletons... I began to wonder how they were going to get it all home again!!
When they guys got back from fishing we all piled into the wagon and took a trip to Whangapoua for a bit more hunting and gathering. We collected a feast of cockles and mussels to take home for dinner and Kyle tried out his snorkling skills in the creek... the muffled squawks through his snorkle letting us know when he had spotted another fish cruising by. Fresh salty air and plenty of exercise meant that the kids were fast asleep not long after dark and to be fair the adults weren't far behind!

Another day, another adventure! Tom got up early and went out for a fish in the hope of bringing home breakfast. By about 9 oclock we decided to fill in time by beachcombing again and of course the kids found another bundle of treasures newly distributed by the tides. Tom came home with one fish which was enough for all the adults to have a bit wrapped in bread. The kids reckoned they didn't want any after seeing the raw fillets although Rowan changed her mind once it was cooked and managed to get a bite of each of our sandwiches.
Then it was into the wagon and off to the hot pools. There is about a 30 minute walk along a bush track from the road to the springs. We spent the time trying to convince Rowan that the springs were a creek like the one our water comes from and not spa pools with water jets but I don't think she really believed us until we actually got there. Tommy went a lttle further down the creek and created his own pool by moving the rocks around. It didn't take much convincing to get in with him! Aaaaaah!!! Lovely!

So, after a warm dip in the hot pools it was time to try another variety... the mermaid pool! This is a big hole in the rock that is left exposed at low tide. It is quite deep but that didn't phase the kids at all. Plus they were plenty of creatures to check out both in the pool and in the rocks around it.

While the kids were checking out the mermaid pool Mel and I took the double kayak out for a quick spin. Had a near perfect lauch through some mild waves and managed to stay dry on the way out. The swell was pretty big once we got out further so we had a quick paddle about then headed back in. I couldn't let Mel get back to the beach still dry so we caught a wave in and I "forgot" to keep the kayak tracking straight and... oh dear... wipe out!! Heh!! Tom and I went out for a spin after that and had a bit of fun in the surf coming back! In the meantime Kyle and Rowan (aka Hiawatha and Pocahontas) were trying out Libby's kayak in the more sedate waters of the creek. Once they got the hang of that they moved on up to the double... like ducks to water!

Sadly we had to say goodbye to our friends the following morning. We were up early getting them packed up to catch the 8:30 ferry back to Auckland. We said our goodbyes and waved them off. As we headed back to the bach we stopped at Pah beach to watch the ferry disappearing into the distance....

We had about 36 hours left on the island ourselves... what would we do now? ...

...Go fishing of course!! Ha! But that's another story!