We started our NZ trip slowly (just 36 km total) by just driving down to the supermarket nearby to stock up and thereafter follow the beach road to the 289 m high Mauso mountain which rises up out of the sea. Since it was Sunday and the weather was sunny with a nice cool breeze from the sea, the beaches were busy (for NZ standards). The walk (around 4km to the summit) was mildly stressful and a good icebreaker for the rest of the trip. The new orthopaedic mountain boots performed well and I had no problems with my feet. Some 16 km further down the seafront we found our first camping for the night.

Dave had sent word to his brother in Awakeri that we may drop in. I had met Mike and Shirley some 25 years ago on my first trip to NZ. Then they had just started their farm and had their first child. I remember being impressed how they tried to live off the land. We had walked up the hills and picked 2 buckets full of mushrooms. That with some eggs was a fantastic meal. Now they both are running a horticultural farm. Growing flowers and green’s for export. The plan is to grow flowers in the summer and then enjoy life in the winter (hunting, fishing, travelling). They gave us some home grown apples and lemons as well as freshly caught fish for the road. How simple life can be.

In Whakatane we parked the car at the seafront and dropped in to the local tourist information office. There a Maori woman taught me a Maori greeting (a Hongi), shaking hand and rubbing noses together. We followed their advise and visited the small waterfall which runs off the cliffs behind the village and dropped in to the local Maori community hall (Mataatua Wharenui, The house that came home). It was built for Queen Victory and as such travelled the world for 140 year till it finally came back home. In the evening we camped after driving some 149 km over a winding hilly beach road at a small camping site (next to the beach) on the side of the bay at Opape and had another lovely fish meal.

The next day we drove further around the bay. The road was cut out of the cliff. Sometimes we had a view of the lovely bay’s. Each small town we drove through had a school with a Maori decorative arch in front.