November 24th, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
The Strand in Tauranga
Lazing around on the beach in the middle of November was great, I couldnâ€™t help thinking of my Welsh friends freezing their butts during these cold, wet, winter days. Only a few days earlier I received an email from Jace telling me that the temperature had dropped to -4 Câ€¦ Jeez louise peppa cheese!! I canâ€™t remember it ever being that cold?
Anyway, sadly I had to make a move if I wanted to see everything else I had planned to, so I packed up and drove south along another beautiful stretch of coastal road. I wanted to reach Rotorua as soon as possible, but it was a fair drive and eventually I opted to make a day stop in Tauranga, on the Bay of Plenty, and book into the YHA for a good scrub and a decent meal.
Tauranga - fishing boats
Good choice. The hostel was nice, clean, kind of cosy and friendly atmosphere. The best part for me was a big kitchen with good pots and pans, instead of the usual loose-handle, bashed-up and scratched to hell ones that you find in some hostels, where you canâ€™t help adding non-stick coating flakes to every meal, nice!
Tauranga is the 5th largest urban area in New Zealand, but it is better know for the huge New Yearâ€™s Eve celebration party, which takes place on the beach of Mount Maunganui. It is supposed to be the best place to enjoy NY; however there is always a liquor ban enforced on streets and public areas, and in 2008 around 220 people were arrested for drinking in public; that includes a swift drink in the back of your vanâ€¦ criminals!
I only had an afternoon to spend, so I limited my self to a quick walk around town.
I found a great fish market on the pier and bought a portion of smoked mussels and fresh crab sticks, with a view to cook a nice big risotto alla marinara, with no sardines this time. Then I walked pass a series of cheerful pubs with live music, and stopped for a quick pint. Three hours later, two empty pockets, a belly full of smoked mussels and a new friend called John, I realised it was time to go/stagger home. It was great meeting John; an 80ish year old chap with a taste for good whisky. He used to pilot merchant ships in his younger years and had many funny stories to tell. He was out by him self, to enjoy a few drinks and some music, but he also had more than he planned to and had to ask his wife to pick him up. The phone call was hilarious; I could hear her shouting down the phone like a mother reprimands her naughty child, whilst he pulled funny faces. Some things never change, no matter how old you are.
God ol fish market
On my way out to Rotorua I spotted a huge kiwi fruit on the side of the road.
Not a real kiwi, this thing must have been ten meters tall! I realise that I had been in kiwi-land for almost 4 weeks and hadnâ€™t tried a single kiwi fruit yet, so a stop was compulsory. In the shop, I found all sorts of kiwi produces: jams; soups; skin creams; wines and liquors. Blime, I didnâ€™t realised they made all this from the kiwi fruit, and I didnâ€™t know that it grew on vine-like trees. It was very educational.