Ali and I are watching TV, well, looking at our iPads and laptop while the telly is on. It is a program about Kawhia, a small settlement on the Kaipara Harbour. It looks interesting so we decide to go there. I book a couple of nights in a motel in Hamilton and from there it is one just over an hour to Kawhia.
Later on I check the long range forecast and there is rain forecast for those days so I move the booking to the weekend when the weather will be clearer
The following weekend we are down in Hamilton and check into the motel in the pouring rain! So much for the long range forecast.
Next morning we get up and head off in the rain. A bit later we go past the huge Mormon temple as the rain fades away.
It is Sunday so there is not much traffic, it is easy driving. We stop here and there to take a few photos.
The further we get from Hamilton the better the weather becomes. We get to the junction where the Kawhia road breaks off from SH39 and we are feeling optimistic about the day.
The road to Kawhia is like so many road that lead to the Kaipara Harbour, windy, sporadic houses, the odd settlement, but all with that feeling that the road is really just passing through, thanks all the same. The whole time the skyline gets a little bigger as slowly you descend towards sea level.
There is still evidence of weather about though
Finally we get to the last turn off
We cruise into Kawhia and we are ready for some breakfast. We find the only café with decent reviews (the only one open) and head inside. I get chatting with the woman behind the counter and behind her I can see a skinny old woman banging the pans in the kitchen. It is friendly enough. The music coming from the kitchen is all old 60’ and 70’s music and there is something about the old skinny woman so I ask the woman behind that counter, “Is she an old hippy girl?” nodding to the kitchen. “My mum?” she asks then laughs. “Yes”, she says, “she really was”.
Kawhia is old hippy settlement from wayback, which is surprising given that it is pretty much all farming thereabouts. She tells us that most of the hippies are long gone but some stayed on and had kids, kinda settled own a bit. You know how it goes. But I was thinking that no-one sees this now, all you can see are scrawny old women and haggard old men but one time they worked the land bare breasted, swam in the harbour naked as they was, showing their young beautiful bodies in that shameless way that was back then. Now, they laugh at the idea of hippies as they rush off to get breast enhancements and labiaplasty and put gel in their hair. I’m laughing at all this.
Breakfast was poached eggs about as near perfect as you can get. The doors were all open leaving a fair chill to blow through bit it was pleasant all the same.
We wander off along the waterline and follow a track that takes up much further along the harbour until we come to a small beach that has a small holding pond, all in the black sand that marks this side of the harbour.
There is a pakeha guy fishing and a maori woman and three lively kids and they have a very large mullet in the holding pond. We stop and chat. They are friendly as and we gabble away about fishing and life and kids, just like that, no introductions, weather talk just straight in. Good, friendly, open, people with free range kids.
We wandle back to the township as we want to go to the museum where they have a fibreglass replica of the largest ammonite ever found anywhere in the world and it was found here in Kawhia. It is only a small place as you can imagine.
But it is packed full of chatty people.
We have much still to see so we head off, but before we do I get a small container from the car and collect some of this unbelievably black sand. It is very heavy.
We grid drive the township seeing a house with “$90,000” painted large on the fence and many other houses for sale. Before we left we checked the prices and you can still get a 3 bed house down here for $250K to $350K, there are still bargains to be had here. BUT, there is nothing here but scenery, majesty and wonder in giant gollops, no work but.
We drive over to the hot water beach but the rain falls and it is so heavy I have to slow right down until we are just crawling through the deluge. We turn round and head back.
Bidding farewell to Kawhia we drive back to Hamilton, stopping for coffee on the Waikato Expressway services which is like a brief trip back to the 80’s on a wet day. But if you drive just over to the edge of the potholed and littered car park you will find yourself standing on the bank of the mighty Waikato river like an impossibly large brown snake gliding past.
When I get home I dry out the tin of black sand that I brought with me. It is very fine. I put it in a small bowl and hold a strong magnet underneath and swirl the sand around. It immediately sticks where the magnet is and after swirling as I gradually move the bowl upwards. All that is left free flowing are just a few specks of fine sand. I reckon that the the black sand is around 99% iron.