The sign said "Hahei Beach" and it sounded intriguing, so off we went.
It was almost deserted.
Except for the tractors, which the locals use to pull their boats onto the beach.
When we parked, we noticed a sign for boat tours of Mercury Bay, and one of the tractors had another sign on it. It was only half an hour till the next tour, so we decided to wait on the off-chance that there was room on the boat.
We sat on some steps and admired the crazy spider web.
And got dizzy from watching the sun reflecting on the ocean.
And when the boat landed in the surf, we were ecstatic to hear that there were exactly three seats left on the next one.
Within minutes, we had paid our fee and donned our life jackets and nimbly climbed aboard.
Well, the first two, anyway.
Anne and I got to sit in the front, because we are short, we supposed.
Poor John had to sit with his all of his six-foot-four-ness in the back.
We waved at him a lot!
We covered a lot of ground in an hour and sometimes the boat went really fast! It was a trick, let me tell you, to be gripping the handle with one hand and trying to get a flattering photo of the two of us (with our ears flattened to our heads and our hair slicked back in the wind) and not bouncing out of the boat when we hit a wave at full speed.
It was thrilling. We laughed and shrieked and embarrassed old JD to death. Just as well he wasn't sitting next to us.
We loved the look of Cathedral Cove, where bits if the Narnia movies were filmed. This is where the children arrive in Narnia.
The Cove can only be reached by hiking or by boat. If you hike in, you must run through this archway, dodging the waves if you are lucky, in order to get to the beach.
Sail Rock sits out slightly in the surf.
There are numerous sea caves and arches along the coast, and we went into many of them.
Inside the biggest cave we entered.
It was an outrageously fun experience and we were very pleased with ourselves for splurging on it.
As we left the town, we saw this funny sight.
Apparently, sometimes we don't bother with a boat when we go to the beach, we just take the wifey and darling child on the back of the tractor.
We checked out Hot Water Beach, where you can dig yourself a hot-water pool at low tide and bask to your heart's content. Another residual benefit of the thermal activity. We didn't avail ourselves of the moment, but we did make the most of some photo ops.
I made John cover the "s", 'cause he's singular, don't you know?
The frangipani, or plumeria, which often adorns leis in Hawaii. The smell is heavenly.
Moko Art Gallery is the best we found. We even went back to it a couple of days later. There was lots of great New Zealand art and, you know me, I could have bought the store!
We strolled along the beach in Whitianga and I loved this tree wrapped around a tree.
On the way home we stopped at the twin kauri trail. We did the short hike, thinking the kauris were along the trail, and got slightly lost, only to find that these trees, which were at the entrance, are the eponymous twins.
It was getting late and it was a bit spooky in the forest.
It was a satisfying day and we arrived home tired but happy.
And now, just because I can, some photos of my favourite succulents.
This one was at the Moko Gallery and is a most unusual plant. The spikes are sharp and leave their imprint from when the leaves were tightly folded, so that the leaves look like a patchwork. We asked about buying a start, because there were lots of babies, and the cashier told us to take all we wanted, as it throws babies all the time.
So we did.