FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2015: WHITIANGA "FITIANGA"

In pre-trip planning I stumbled upon a sailing charter that I really got my heart set on! There are a plethora of tour options in this area, but I was gravitating towards something a little less touristy. Most of the advertised tours use small motorized rafts filled with at least 15 people, which circulate all of the spots in just a few short hours. Sailing for a full day with a true local seemed a little bit more appealing! I had emailed the contact info on the website a couple times, with no luck. We woke up early this morning with the intention of tracking down the office so we could reserve a spot. This would not be as easy as it sounds! After a full morning of asking around the wharf, going between the information site and cafes, we finally were able to get a contact number (the skipper’s direct cell) off the internet using the free wifi at the library, and then used a payphone around the corner to make the call. Miraculously a chipper voice picked up on the other end, and told us we were in luck! He was taking his boat out tomorrow, and there was room for us! We decided to enjoy the rest of our day in Hahei- a short drive from Whitianga. A “quick” hour long hike from the car park would bring you to Cathedral Cove. This hike was drastically different from The Pinnacles- and stunning in its own right! A lot of the Narnia movies were shot along this very coastline, so you can imagine the gorgeous views. We were rewarded after the long, humid hike, with Cathedral Cove, which has to be one of the top three most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. Although a little touristy, I like the fact that you have to hike a good hour to get to the beach with no option for shortcuts, as it really helps weed out a lot of the mass crowds. A stunning cove separates two beautiful beaches. And the sound of the waves crashing into the cove walls sounds like fireworks going off. We relaxed on the beach for the rest of the afternoon, soaking in the sun and the views.

We had passed a winery a few times driving in and out of Whitianga, and thought it would be a good idea to stop on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine for our sail tomorrow. Once again, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The entrance was a long gravel road lined with trees and surrounded by sheep. We decided to get out and take a few pictures because you can always use more sheep pics! We were immediately charged by a crazy rooster. I was snapping pictures of the scene- Jessica and the rooster- laughing my butt off, when her eyes got extra wide and she told me to GET IN THE CAR. I immediately leaped into the passenger side door without asking questions, and quickly realized that some kind of pig/boar had taken interest and was starting to charge as well. Once both safely in the car, we continued down the path, only to be greeted by what looked like a reindeer straight off of Santa’s sleigh! It was a scene. There were trees, and creeks, and ponies grazing, and crazy animals around every bend. I am not kidding when I tell you it felt like we had entered some kind of alternate universe. We were really stumped when we arrived at an arrangement of wooden signs pointing every which way- each one with a different kind of wine posted. We were so confused. Do we try different kinds of wines in each of these small cottages surrounding us? On cue, a woman emerged out onto the porch of one of the cottages and asked us what we were looking for. “The wine of course?!”. She quickly informed us that there was no wine there…we were in a residential complex. I guess these people just got together one day and decided to call their little paradise “Summer Wines”- nevermind the confusion the sign off the highway may cause. We were out of luck on the wine front, but had way more fun stumbling upon this strange, strange place. What a gem!  I am falling more and more in love with all the odd surprises NZ offers around every corner.