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The Cruisy Life: Part 3

In my latest novel, Elinor, the family live in rural Manawatū and Pahīatua in the years between the two world wars. There is a passage about the travails of crossing the steep bush-clad hills with a horse and wagon, finding dry firewood and providing a meal. On our journey, we didn’t have to endure such hardships. Cafes abound wherever you go, and while many of the roads are loose metal, at least we travel them in modern cars with all the conveniences they bring.

If you read my earlier posts, you will know we spent a month caravanning around the Coromandel Peninsula. The western side is completely different to the eastern side and there are hills everywhere. We’d heard about this famous 309 Road with all its ups and downs and tight bends and decided not to take the caravan through, but later, parked up in Whitianga, the wind sent us inland to investigate. The 309 lived up to its reputation. But the scenery was stunning.

If you get the chance, do take the journey. Yes, the road is narrow, windy and hilly and the locals know it so well they do not slow down for the corners, but it is definitely worth it. The distance from one end to the other is around 22kms. We travelled in and out from the Whitianga side so didn’t make it through to the Waterworks (which I hear are amazing) and we visited the Coromandel Mussel Kitchen while in Coromandel township. But what captured us was the scenery – did I say it was spectacular?

Two stopping points of interest (around midway) are the Waiau Kauri and the nearby Waiau Falls. The falls, and the pool at the bottom, were a popular swimming spot on a hot summer’s day away from the wind, and the easy bush walk to the kauri trees was beautiful.

Apart from the astonishing circumference and height of these kauri trees was also one called the Siamese. It had started as one tree but had separated into two as it grew. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but I’d never seen one like it before.

As always, when I’m in a bush setting like this, with the prepared paths and walkways and signage to guide us, is how all-encompassing the bush really is. How hard it would have been for our ancestors to make a home and a living from such a landscape. We decry the loss of many of our forests, but we can understand why they were driven to log the trees. I feel honoured to live in such a fantastic country, to have the privileges that we do, to feel safe, without the hardships our ancestors endured.

Elinor – book 2 in The Art of Secrets series – is due out on Mothers’ Day, 8 May. The Art of Secrets Book One is available for just US.99c

A distraught friend, a mysterious stalker, and generations of secrets. Emma’s job is to find the link, but tracing a family tree suddenly becomes a dangerous occupation.

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