5 Nights in Mahia

I know that you northern hemisphere people are a bit cold but we are having of the best summers ever recorded down here this year. Endless long hot sunny days.

We flew into Wellington at 8am on the Saturday, picked up the hire car and were gone before 9am. Around 4 hours to Napier for lunch then another 2 and a half to Mahia. Driving through such illustrious places as Eketahuna and Mangatainoka, a journey for heroes at the very least!

We arrived in Napier to find that it was Art Deco Weekend and packed. The seafront was closed off and was full of ancient cars and seemingly thousands of men women and children all in period dress. It was both bizarre and beautiful as all such events are.

Napier is famous for having been the site of one of the biggest earthquakes in NZ history. The whole land mass that Napier sits on rose up by 7 feet and the whole town fell down. Then a fire broke out and the whole lot burned killing all those not already dead who were trapped under rubble. Reports from survivors make for harrowing reading. It happened in summer and for weeks following the whole place was inundated with the stench of the rotting seabed once under water now in full sunshine 8 feet higher than before and all the seaweed, fish, crabs and whatever were now stinking to high heaven. The end result was that the whole town was rebuilt from scratch in the 30′s so it is an art deco masterpice and to their credit they have kept it that way.

As an aside to that, I recently flew down to Queenstown to see my daughter. On the flight was a very old Asian man. He was saying how he had been in both of the biggest earthquakes in recent history. On the day of the Napier earthquake it was his first day at school so he was not at the bakery where the rest of his family worked. They all died that day.

Enough of that we are driving to Mahia. The last town we went through is called Wairoa, I drove through there a couple of years ago and took some nice pics of a deserted dairy factory.

wairoa dairy - before

but not so sorry looking this time around

 wairoa dairy - later

Long day when finally we sight the place itself


The bach was not as clean as it could have been and as this was Ali’s first stay in a Kiwi bach it was a bit of a disappointing start to our stay here. On the upside, the day ending with a magnificent sunset.

mahia sunset
Also, on the first night we turned the telly on to find the movie Network playing and it was just before my all time favourite scene from any movie. A news man called Howard Beale has been having visions and getting crazier. His network decide to keep him on the air as he is bringing their viewing figures up. In this scene he has been wandering in the rain and has failed to appear for his time slot but then wanders in at the last minute. You can see it here. That was made 37 years ago and how true it is today!

Then the next night we turned the telly on and the movie Coneheads was playing. Coneheads is a movie about the American Dream where an immigrant family can go to that country and work hard and become Americans. Where they leave their own culture behind and adopt American culture. In this case the immigrants are from another planet and no-one seems to notice their cone shaped heads. They tell everyone they are from France! This movie has my second most favourite scene from any movie! In this scene Beldar (the dad) has volunteered to put on a fireworks display at an event at the local high school. See it here

Mahia Peninsula is one of those backwater places where both the highway and modern times sweep past as if they aren’t there. I imagined it as being flat but it was as hilly as a rednecks backyard. There are only 2 roads on the peninsula and they are both dead ends but we drove them anyhow. Unsealed dirt roads going over seemingly impossibly steep hillsides. Bush clad hairpin bends with frighteningly long drops off the sides. At the top of one of these inclines we saw a peacock!

Just after that we found an old railway carriage nestled on the top of a hill.


Over looking a valley running down to the sea


How the hell it got there one could only wonder, you’d be brave truck driver to get up and over those hills.
I was looking for a place to fish as the fishing here was supposed to be very good but the further we went the higher we were getting. Finally we stopped and looked down and saw what looked like some old ruined buildings right on the sea. The road ended there too. Looked like fishing might well be possible here.

The buildings looked interesting and maybe worth a few photos. Not having binoculars with me I used this trick I picked up somewhere. I got my camera and zoomed in as much as I could, took a picture then looked at the photo on the back screen then zoomed in on that. This way you can pick out detail that you’d never get with your bare eyes.


What was weird here was what I saw in the photo!


Which zooms to show this


Bloody hell! there was someone watching us from so far away as if he could see us clear as day. Just in front of us there was a sign saying No Entry and we decided to obey and left straight away. Looked more and more like Deliverance country by the minute!

Mahia township had a core of permanent houses, one shop and one pub. We were also in Maori country. Once past Napier, the population was predominately brown skinned people, some with blue eyes too. The bulk of the houses were empty as the holiday period was over. Row upon row of empty houses. Like all bach towns architecture is a novel concept that happens elsewhere.













Walking around was just like waiting for the undead to appear at any minute.

Before we left we had a trip up to Tolaga Bay home of the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere (have you ever noticed how so many things in NZ are the longest, smallest, brightest, darkest whateverest in the southern hemisphere? I think that is mainly due to there being bugger all else in the southern hemisphere apart from NZ (Australia doesn’t count here!)

tolaga bay

We also came across an interesting sign that was (more) interestingly placed at the other end of the road where there were no houses at all!


Finally time to leave but not before Ali had learned to fly and levitate



We drove most of the way back to Wellington but stopped for the night before we got there. The next day we were up early and had a whole day in Wellington before flying home that night. One of my favourite arty things is in Wellington. It is a poem set in concrete and placed just on the surface of the harbour.

maori jesus