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The Farewell Spit Tour – Day 44
Tuesday 10th May 2005
A tour of Farewell Spit was on the agenda today, as were a few other things, and it would turn out to be an exhausting day. But one that I shall remember and that’s for sure. Read on to see how the day panned out.
I awoke on the same bed I had gone to sleep in, much to my delight, and instantly picked up the scent of homemade bread. It is an unmistakable smell, and one that almost lifted me out of bed. As it turned out, I had to lift myself out of bed, and get ready in the usual manner.
Once I had entered the kitchen area, I was instantly presented with a couple of slices of said bread, and I have to say it was delicious, and went down my gob in no time at all. It was a good start to the day. Chris – the owner – was busy baking, as he does each and every morning, so I learnt. Our chat soon progressed to what I would be doing today, and once Chris had learned of my trip to Farewell Spit, he also mentioned that I might like to go to Wharariki Beach. This hadn’t been on my agenda, and I knew I would be cutting it a bit fine time-wise if I was to go. The annoying guy from Israel heard the conversation and invited himself along. Before I knew what had just happened, I was to be driving this guy to the beach right away and bringing him back again. It was all arranged for me.
I hastily got ready, and put on some warm clothes as the rain had started. We set off – the annoying guy and me – and eventually made it to the beach. There was a long walk to the beach, and had it been me by myself, I would probably have given it a miss, at least until the weather was better. This guy had already walked on, so I had no option but to follow.
It turns out the beach is actually visually stunning, with rocks and caves encircling us. The water was coming at us from various directions, through caves and around. The weather was awful, and I was already soaked to the bone, but I kept a look out for the seals that I was promised I would see. But only one seal did I see, and it was a fair distance away. The tide was coming in and it was bitterly cold and windy, so we walked the long walk back to the car. For me, the whole morning had been a complete waste of time, but it was done now. I had to get back, get dried off, then ready for my tour of Farewell Spit.
The trip turned out to be really enjoyable, and lasted the best part of the day. The other people also on the tour were extremely friendly, and fun to be with, although a little older than myself. We set off in the van and headed north.
The journey there was impressive, and we had to bypass countless gates that had to be opened and closed as we went. As the tour was on private land, this was the only way to get there. Eventually we found ourselves at our first stop – Cape Farewell. Here we saw a number of seals on the rocks, all bathing in the sunshine, as the rain had passed on by this point. It was lovely to see. Next, we drove on towards Fossil Point. Here we witnessed many fossils in the rocks that littered the beach. There is a reason for this, but I was too far away from our guide as she was explaining it. I get too carried away sometimes, and often wander off in search of my own adventures.
We moved on to the main part of the tour, towards the Lighthouse, but had to negotiate a vast area of thick sand first – not a problem in our 4 x 4, so I thought…
Our female tour guide – friendly as she was – appeared to be a little out of her depth with the terrain, but we were managing without incident so far. I guessed she had led this tour on many an occasion, so she must know what she is doing. She was also a keen wildlife enthusiast, as were all the others on the tour, unlike myself I have to admit. Each and every time we saw a bird, we stopped to admire it from the windows of our vehicle. I wouldn’t have minded but for the fact that it was the same type of bird every time. And it’s not as if they were even doing anything, other than just standing there.
It was some distance into the sandy terrain that we began having problems. We got stuck a few times, and it took a lot of back and forth motion to free the wheels. The tour guide explained that she had never been this stuck before – reassuring to hear I can tell you! She also chose this moment to tell us that we may have to dig the car out if we get too bogged down. She may have been joking, but the sweat trickling down her forehead told another story. All in all it was exciting I guess, and maybe sleeping on the beach might not be so bad if we really do get stuck.
We got to the lighthouse eventually, and had refreshments there. The museum part of the lighthouse was interesting, and we stayed here for a while before heading back. We were now retracing our tracks along the sand, but this time we were fine and drove straight on through. We stopped at a large sand dune, and climbed to the top before running all the way down again. It was a lot of fun.
When we got back it was quite late. The other guests and myself grabbed some food in the restaurant and chatted into the evening. They are very nice people. Afterwards I walked back to the hostel, and sat in the kitchen talking to Astrid. In the background, the Japanese guests were busy cooking up a feast again, and it resembled being backstage in a busy restaurant, watching the kitchen staff performing their duties. It was fascinating for the few of us that aren’t Japanese. The biggest surprise of the evening came when the food was dealt onto plates and set out in front of us all. Each person was presented with an incredible meal to which we were eager to show our gratitude. Being a little full already, it was hard to finish it all, but it tasted so good that I managed it all. It was so nice of them to cook for us, and given the fact that the language was an obvious barrier, we all enjoyed a happy and excitable evening around the old oak table. I was touched by this moment.
When it had become quite late, I finished up and went to bed.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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