Thursday, June 16, 2016

Journey to Opotiki

Beauty along the way
A sunny sparkly morn, we left Mahia early to allow time for side explorations on our 3.5 hour drive to Opotiki. While we didn’t find the amazing  hike we were hoping for, we did stumble upon an epic driving route! About 2 hours into the drive, we stopped in Matawai, where it was suggested we look for hiking trails. We asked a couple folks in the area for suggestions, but were being guided further afield. We decided to take a more scenic, less speedy (aka gravel road) route that we hoped would provide a trail or two at some point. Early on, there was a fork we were uncertain about and our techy maps were faltering. We stopped at a quirky and quaint cafe to ask a bit of direction. We stopped at the right place! The woman inside was quite knowledgable about the area, sharing a bit of history and easily directing us to what we were seeking, which turned out to be a mere 10 minute drive from there. We stayed a bit to look at the art adorning the walls. About 150 framed photographs of various sizes and subjects, all captured by two local women. The cafe owner asked us to put in a vote for our favorite as they were keeping a tally to decide on which art stayed in the shop. It took a bit of deciding as there were so many great shots! Fortunately, the cafe also had a large library of books to read in house and Kavi was quite entertained. We left there with a trail to head towards and directions to get us to our ultimate destination. 

Ten minutes later found us parking just inside Whinrey Scenic Reserve. There were a few cars parked there already and  the start of the trail was a long suspension bridge overlooking a small, powerful waterfall. Sweet! Across the bridge we entered the dense jungly canopy where we ohh-ed and ahh-ed over the beautiful flora of various sizes. While the trail was lovely, it seemed it was going to remain the same scenery for quite some time and we were seeking a more diverse adventure. We turned back after about 20 minutes, satisfied that at least we stretched our legs a bit. 
Kavi's first suspension bridge walk

Whinrey Reserve

Wow, we're at Motu Falls! :-)
Once back on the road, we found the diversity we were seeking! The scenic route we chose added a couple hours to our drive, but it was well worth it! We wound in and out and up and down through several reserves, pristine forest, miles and miles of nothing but nature, passing only 2 other vehicles on the 80kilometers of remote road. So invigorating! This was among the top 3 backwoods drives I've been on--and the best of our New Zealand tour! We arrived at our place in Opotiki (Turihanga) just in time to unload our things and take the short walk to the beach for a gorgeous sunset…so good! An all around joyous day of travel.

The next day was  a chill one--morning on the beach building sand castles and drawing in the sand, a few hours in town to tend to errands and check out the local flavor, yummy pizzas made by Andres while listening to cheesy music, then back to the beach to take in another beautiful sunset. While we watched the light show, Kavi asked us to "make a house" and a road for his trucks--something he picked up in Mahia, watching the kids there building large shelters on the beach. It was a perfect closing to a lovely family day. A short and sweet visit in Opotiki.
Morning sky
Nap walk scenery
Lily, bee & mantis
Make a road!!
Yogurt-covered goodbye kiss!

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