Every summer and often in between, we, as in OH and I, pack up our caravan and head to a different area of New Zealand to investigate the nooks and crannies we don’t know about. Every summer, we say how much we enjoy our sojourns and having a caravan is like being at home while away. This January was no different.
Our first day was ‘huge’ (relatively speaking). We traveled from one end of the Auckland motorway to the other, remembering that our speed limit is 90kmph on open roads, and considerably less on any narrow or windy sections. The slower pace means we get to see more. We stopped for a picnic lunch near Thames and continued up the coast of the Firth of Thames, up and over the hill to Coromandel Town.
We remembered it as a quirky historic township from our last trip over a decade ago, and we weren’t disappointed. There’s now lots of great eating places, and a great deal of history to learn about. One of the reasons we went there was to go to the northern tip of the Peninsula – Port Jackson, Cape Colville and Fletcher Bay and across to Port Charles and the beaches on the western side. We’d never been to those places before in all our travels. Something we were determined to fix this time around.
For us, leaving the caravan at a delightful park over almost in the town centre, and packing a picnic into the car and heading out into the sunshine is what our travels are all about. We are able to drive along all the narrow loose metal roads just to find out what is at the end, often finding some delightful hidden spots, like these in the photos below.
One of the highlights of the Port Jackson trip was the windy, twisting road hugging the stunning coastline. We passed a grove of ancient, multi-limbed, gnarled pohutukawa thriving on rocky soil almost at sea level. At other places, we looked down from clifftops into the crystal clear waters and watched people fishing from the rocks. A picnic lunch on the golden sands of Port Jackson, and the views along the way were simply incredible.
But what I love most about these journeys, is seeing the land in all its glories – and difficulties. Even today, with fast-paced four-wheel drive vehicles, the locals have to travel some significant distances to get the supplies they need. As a historical fiction writer, I think about the people of the past and how long they would have travelled from those same places using only a horse and cart, or, for some, on foot. It puts our land into perspective, makes me think about our ancestors and value their hard work, dedication and sheer grit to make something of the land – just to feed their families.
I take inspiration from their struggles and the beauty and harshness of nature.