After spending a day extra in Paihia I had to miss out on Matai Bay which was a dose cos again it came very highly recommended by Diana the Kraut. I was heading all the way north to Cape Reinga. Got a spin off a phenomenally cool old geezer who arrived in the country 15 years earlier with his wife and not a word of english between them. They had spent the majority of their lives in communist East Germany, which I'd imagine, was no bag of laughs. He had a plumbing business for 12 years in Auckland (after spending the first year waiting for a work visa and learning english). They sold that up, moved north and bought a farm. They'd no experience nor an idea of what they were doing but learned how to make cheese and harvest olives and now they've a fully fledged hobby farm, the produce of which they sell at the market at weekends, with their free time spent scuba diving. Some pup and some life he has !
Northland and especially the Far North (thats actually the name, these white settlers weren't the most inventive lot!) is a magical place, absolutely beautiful, with rolling green hills and pristine, mostly untouched white sanded beaches and a fantastic climate. Generally the people I met, while maybe not the most amazing craic or anything were absolutely sound out. Really laid back, all-round decent and easy to get along with.
Got a few lifts off Maori guys and I've never been so enthralled by an accent before, unreal ! They are all exactly like the characters from Boy, a high pitched stacatto-like voice where they practically put a fully stop after every word !
Generally speaking, it was the most successful hitchhiking I'd ever done, rarely waiting for more than ten minutes. Twice, I'd cars pull up before I'd even gotten my bags from the previous car ! While mostly, guys my own age, I got collected by all sorts, old women, families, the works. But as I waited at the turn off for Spirits Bay, I was ready to change plans because not one car had passed me and I'd waited for over an hour. All of a sudden a car came screeching around the corner and jammed on the breaks. It was a gravel road and as we sped down it, Adam from England, shouted at me that he does rally driving back home. As my face practically retreated into my head from the speed we were travelling, I mustered a nod back to him, Jeaaysus. He was just coming to the end of a 2 year round-the-world trip, 2 weeks here, 2 weeks there. I could quite imagine it, certainly if he traveled like he drove anyway. When I told him I was off to Zambia, he said it was in his top three countries he'd been to alongside Vietnam and Colombia. Music to my ears, any country on a par with Colombia is good by me.
Spirits Bay was fantastic, we sat down on this vast, open beach, about 3km in length with two jutting headlands on either side. Like most places it had a strong significance to Maori culture, it was where the spirits of the dead gathered before departing on their final journey to the afterlife.