We got a slow start on the morning, enjoying coffee and the view from our fold out camp chair. Once we were rustled out of place, we got moving toward one of the lower points on the North Island - Cape Palliser. Channeling Andrew’s maternal Grandmother who so loved the lighthouses of Maine, we went to climb a New Zealand Lighthouse, just for her.
The terrain changed from farmland to a strange almost desert-like coast. Succulents with pink flowers covered vast meadows at the foot of a mountain. White puffy grasses caused the grass on the hills to glow white. To the touch, they have the texture of wool.
A fishing village is tucked against the mountain at the point, where every man, woman and child must own a bulldozer to pull a fishing boat in or out of the water. A line of bulldozers are parked on the beach in various states of operation or rust. They all wear different expressions, or congregate with feathered friends. I could have a hay-day naming all these bulldozers.
We climb the lighthouse and check out the view from up high. A sundog surrounds the lighthouse, making a faint rainbow ring around the top.
On the beach across the way, we visit a sea lion colony in various states of relaxation. They stretch, scratch, and sleep in the warm sun. I imagine it is a lovely reprieve from the cold ocean they swim in most of the time.
The ocean is roiling today, making some really great waves on a black sand beach. We stop to watch the surfers. These guys are the best surfers I have ever gotten to watch! They make it look so easy; which I know surfing is not. One guy is surfing in a little sunhat. He obviously ins’t trying hard enough. The guy on the yellow surfboard is killing it. He chooses his wave carefully, then hops up on his board and rides the wave up and down to the crest and back into the curl, back up to the crest over and over again until the wave reaches shore.
After the beach, we head back over to the Rimutaka, Wild Forest Track we tried to ride the day before. This time, the river across the road was still there, but we had plenty of daylight to ride the extra miles. We pull the bikes out of the van, attach the front wheels, and pedal off. There is some drama trying to hop across the road/river with our bikes, but we make it and start pedaling along a coastal road decorated with ocean and mist on one side, steep cliffs to the other.
This is a trail you can smell as much as you can ride. It is surrounded by fields and fields of wild fennel. Fennel, in case you have never come in contact, has a root that tastes like black licorice. It is a close cousin of dill, and like dill, its leaves are feathery and soft. If you rub the leaves, instead of smelling dill you smell that sweet licorice scent. With so much fennel blooming everywhere around this trail, the smell of salty ocean air, sun warmed dust and sweet fennel was spectacular.
We forge a few more rivers and ride along the beach until the wind kicks up and pummels us with blowing sand. Time to turn around, we make our back to the car and toward camp for the night.
New Zealand has a way of making one feel so small.
Off to Windy-Wellington the next day! You can tell we are getting closer: the trees grow sideways here.