Three in a boat in Patua
Strictly speaking I cannot say three men in a boat – to be accurate it would have to be three humans in a kayak.
Or perhaps, at times, one human and two dogs – but you get the idea.
We were eager to try out a few combinations of passengers on the new (to us) kayak. So when we turned the last corner on the very winding road Whangarei Heads Road and saw the sparkling calm waters of Pataua River we knew we had found our spot.
Pataua Bay is approx 30 mins from the Northland town of Whangarei.
Pataua South is a small settlement, mostly a collection of summer baches, that lies at the mouth of the Pataua River.
A footbridge (or very long drive on the road) takes you to Pataua North on the other side of the river which is again mostly a collection of summer baches.
The northern settlement nestles between the river and the crashing Pacific Ocean so the two options in the bay provide great waves for surfers or calm clear waters in the estuary for swimming, kayaking and general family fun.
We had a tremendous fun-filled day at Pataua.
We paddled, we swam, we walked and explored.
We kayaked and thoroughly tried out all passenger variations of our new larger kayak and our existing single-seater one.
We discovered this could include tying our smaller kayak to the larger with a dog lead and giving the 10-yr-old a tow when she got tired.
The tide went out leaving only the deeper part of the river available for water sport fun but the remaining shallow waters were soon heated to a temperature that was most pleasant.
It also meant we could go and get some food for the barbecue.
No corner shop here though.
I’m talking about free shellfish just waiting to be dug up with your toes from the sandbank of the estuary as the tide goes out.
Up to 150 pipis can be collected per person each day and we were not alone going out with our bucket to source our dinner (although we only took what we knew we could eat).
We soaked them in fresh water for a few hours, to get rid of some of the sand, and then we threw them on the BBQ to supplement our other food.
As they sizzle and pop open you are best to use the empty shell of one to scoop out the juicy hot pipi and eat there and then.
While many, including my beloved, enjoy eating them like this (or even raw) I personally think they taste like salty elastic bands.
Not a meal I’m normally keen to eat.
However – I am determined to learn to enjoy shellfish (particularly when we have sourced it freely) so I made up a bit of a red wine, onion and garlic sauce to eat my share with.
I just had a small share. But I did eat some.
The day had been hot. We were relaxed and tired with full bellies.
We spent the evening watching the sun set and holiday makers continuing to throw themselves off the footbridge into the cooling waters flowing below.
We had a walk over to Pataua North and visited the ocean beach.
It was very loud.
All around us holiday makers tramped back to their baches where they were brushing off sand covered children and packing them off to bed.
Christmas was still fresh in our memories and many folks had obviously enjoyed the festivities in their holiday homes.
Lights from Christmas trees and decorated marquees shone out from houses and gardens as we walked back in the fading light to the Kiwi Blog Bus.
We spent a peaceful first half of the night sleeping by the water’s edge.
Then at a ridiculous time in the morning we were awoken to the bus being buffeted around by strong winds and sideways rain that had appeared from nowhere.
This was not really a problem except we had left the awning out and I was fearful of it being ripped off.
So with a few gentle prods I encouraged the beloved to leave his warm bed and venture out into the fresh seaside weather so he could put the awning away.
I did get up and hold the torch for him. From inside the doorway.
No problem really. Nothing that a few towels could not remedy.
In the morning a large puddle was the only sign that we hadn’t imagined this weather bomb.
We enjoyed a Pataua Bay breakfast and then set off for our next destination.
I’ll leave you with some more pictures but please come back soon and read the next episode of our New Year’s adventure Up North in the Kiwi Blog Bus.