Gathan Beaga

Meanwhile, back in April...

The sunsets here are insanely great. And the days are not far behind. There’s a simplicity to the autumn; the cool south-easterly transmuted by the mountains behind us into a humid breeze carrying the occasional fat raindrops. Out to sea, under the swing of the sun, it’s raining. We are on the Land’s Edge, here.

The girls have been cracking macadamias; but the bananas have been eaten by earlier visitors and the avocadoes are not quite ready yet. Rosa and Bella are in and out of their togs all day, begging us to take them to the swimming pool.

We haven’t even made it down to the beach. There hasn’t been time. The girls have done their reconnection tour though, first thing. Flying Fox: check! Trampoline: check! Mini-golf: check!

Later:

I walk up the hill behind where we’re staying. There’s a path through the bush to a lookout at the top.

The first time we came here I found a giant stick insect, mottled in shades of green like the fern runners clingling to the trees. I suppose I think I’m just going to find another one.

Fern Runners

An opportunistic but welcome pīwakawaka follows me, hawking in my trail.

pīwakawaka

Further up, I get into a singing contest with a pair of korimako. They win, of course, though not without a certain amount of huffiness on their part at the impertinence of the challenge.

At the top the view is immense, and only a little can be taken in at once.

Te Puia o Whakaari

The sea is occasionally speckled with fishing boats; the island volcano lying coiled and quiet, not even steaming. There is a cool breeze from the endless rumpled hills of bush at my back, and the birds make a constant song. The only discordant notes are, as before, the ever-present buzz of wasps; trucks passing far below, and a dog, its bark snatched by the wind and passed far up into the air.

I can see the road as it winds up and down bushy hills; along flats planted in maize and kiwifruit; around rocky headlands where the pohutukawa lean out over the water with outstretched arms.

There’s more detail that can’t be seen from up here: but on that road is a sign that says “Pig Dog Training School”. Underneath, in a different colour, “Bookbinder”. I know that chickens peck the long acre, apparently unperturbed by the pig dogs.

Later again:

Apparently there was snow on top of Hikurangi last night, explaining the cold night; but yet this morning we are in t-shirts and shorts again, almost tempted to break out the sunscreen despite the lateness of the season. It’s hot, though a cool breeze is stirring the pohutukawas as I watch out for the tiny boat that they’ve gone to lift the crayfish pots with. I don’t like boats.

They're in a tub

I’m also keeping an eye on a lovely stick insect, green with a creamy white stripe down both sides, that fell on to Rebecca while we dragged the boat out from under the tree. Though I place it in a pohutukawa tree, where it started tentatively munching a leaf, by the time I come back with the decent camera it was gone.

And we have fish for dinner.

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