Monday, March 28, 2011

Mainland Heart Island

I don't know what it is about islands that sends me into the deepest contented daydream. Not the Fiji/Raro/Samoa most dream of, or the 'bloody Ibiza' some may dream of being, but the rugged, desolate yet proudly independent gems that encircle this country.

While I have been out to White Island, my backyard Whale Island remains a mystery to me, and I envy those who have just recently been able to partake in a joint venture between local bodies and visit. Secret bays, brand new perspectives of the land you have just sailed from, landscapes which may only define that one island.

Walking to the top of Mt.Manganui gives you the ability to see out to Mayor, down Matakana and up to Slipper. .

New Plymouth even gets little Sugar Loaf as a cherry on top of its land jut sundae.

I spend the final minutes of most flights orientating myself, picking the settled pockets of farmland from the island reserves, or convincing myself that I have never seen that particular island on a map before. Hauraki Gulf especially renders me clueless, even when studying a map of the area. It was exciting to note that Rotoroa Island (owners The Sallies ran a rehab centre, initially under the "Inebriates and Drunkards Act 1906", this drew to a close in 2005, where similar work was then carried out under a more 'bridging' type program so as not to isolate recoverers)has just become open to the public for visiting after the signing of a 99 year lease by society benefactors Neal and Annette Plowman. While I roll my eyes at the thought that there will be 5 or 6 small lifestyle blocks available, it does look like a worthwhile cause...although see my future post on why I think multi coloured umbrella "the arts" is being taken for a ride...anyway! The Coromandel.

When in Kuaotunu, I found myself bowing to Great Barrier, before visiting Coromandel for the first time and catching a glimpse of Waiheke. Great Merc and Red Merc seemed like parts of the mainland from Buffalo Beach, and Mahurangi from the Cathedral Cove walk carpark was tantalisingly close. .

Now that I'm back in the Hawke's Bay, I find myself remembering how in awe I am of the Mahia Peninsula; from here, it takes roughly 3.5 hours to get to the start of the metal. When it ends 45 minutes later, you're barely halfway. I'd love to go to Portland one day, and land some sweet, sweet fish for the table (I may bake loaves, who knows).

Last year the trip over the hill to Waimarama brought me to tears. Bare Island is so beautiful, particularly when seen for the first time by one sensitive redhead at a her favourite driving time: dusk. .

The Chathams. Well for goodness sake. They have their own timezone, and the trees are Tim Burtonesque if ever I've seen a Tim Burton tree.

When I reach Stewart Island, I will be ear to earring, knowing I've conquered Foveaux and summited Allen, done the Raikura track and skipped over to Ulva (does anyone else giggle just a little?). If I could swing an oyster and a yarn with Marcus Lush, then perhaps I'd consider stopping in Bluff, but we'll play that one by ear. .

Stupidly missing the fact that daily sailings to Great Barrier cease at the end of the extended holiday period in February, my Plan A for recent annual leave was relegated to the shredder. Oh how I would have loved to have scrambled atop Mt.Hobson, landed some sweet, sweet fish (again) for my beloveds and their mealplates, meandered on foot, or on the island's bus company which boast's the motto "We Get Everywhere...Eventually". But, the trip must wait, and instead I was treated to an absolutely brilliant week in the Coromandel, ending with a drive up through the Seabird Coast (thankfully NOT true to its name as we drove through) with a stop at Tapakananga and peering into the Ashby Homestead, finishing with a quick trip to Waiheke, to which I had not been before. .

Waiheke. I'm going to be honest. .

It was a bit weird. .

A suburb of Auckland, without the admission of being so. It didn't feel novel, or particuarly special, though I dare say it holds many hearts, just as benign places to some hold a piece of mine.

It felt like it used to be like Great Barrier, but proximity to the port of Auckland has worn it down. Parts of it were genuinely like a New Zealand film; non-era specific but erring on the side of nostalgia. I don't know, the beauty of an island in the eye of the beholder really, but I yearned for a few dinky baches here and there, and really what I got was something not too dissimilar to what Raglan is fast becoming: slightly lacklustre in the genuine department.

Give me the roadless Kawau any day (funny that Marcus Lush's island episode of North has just screened, I've been thinking of islands all week and nowhere near a television. No I'm not trying to be creepy.) .

When I was younger I read in a National Geographic the story of a man...Mark? who was bitten/chomped/near damn killed by a Great White near Campbell Island. Now, that place is barren. And yet, to land on it, have a quick walk, flop on the sponge scrub, chuck out a rod and take some not very professional photos with DOC signage as proof of my landing would be amazing. .

Am I secretly an Island Box Ticker? Maybe, but I'd rather that than be bloody Ibiza. .

Until next time!
L. .

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