Last week I took the girls away on a 4 night camping holiday at my favourite beach. Yes we do live on the beautiful Coromandel with many beautiful beaches nearby not to mention our beach here in Whangamata but this particular beach is where we holidayed as a family when I was a child in a family bach so it holds special memories for me. It is on the wild west coast just outside Auckland and is quite famous for it's wild surf and because of that it has a reality TV programme filmed there. So all of you local readers will have guessed already that it is Piha I am talking about. West coast beaches differ from the East coast beaches with their black iron sand. We stayed in the Piha domain camping ground and scored a nice quiet spot with our own little Pohutakawa tree for shade which also held up our makeshift clothesline. I tried to take the above photo without the girls noticing but as you can see Amelia spotted me and tried to make out she was camera shy by hiding behind her shirt.
This is Piha beach viewed from the southern end looking north past the iconic Lion Rock which separates North Piha from South Piha. Lion Rock is actually an eroded neck of a volcano that erupted 16 million years ago. I never knew that as a kid, all I knew was that you could climb to the top and that I was never allowed to because I was too young. Seemed so unfair at the time.
This photo was taken from halfway up Lion rock looking south across the main Piha beach and out towards 'The Gap' another well known landmark in Piha. The large rock formation on the right is known as 'Camel rock' and 'Nun rock' is the end rock formation on the seaward side of Camel rock.
This passage through Camel rock is known as 'The keyhole' and is used by keen fishermen to walk through at low tide to access the rocks on the seaward side. Caitlin and I waded through the surprisingly warm water looking at the little crabs and starfish living in the shallows.
So top on my list of must things to do was to take the girls up Lion rock since I had never been allowed to when staying here as a kid. You used to be able to climb all the way to the top of the lion's head but some rock erosion has made the last 1/4 up and around the head too dangerous. I was quite happy to be able to climb 3 quarters of it anyway as the views are stunning in all directions.
My girls taking in the view halfway up looking northwards.
Another reason I like Piha is because there are numerous bush walks in the surrounding bush clad hills. The most well known and used walk is up to the Kitekite waterfalls at the end of Glen Esk road. Every year we stayed there in my childhood summer holidays we did this walk. The falls cascade over 6 stages and end in a large pool at the bottom. It is a 1/2 hour up-hill walk so Caitlin and I (Amelia was not so brave) cooled off in this very cold but refreshing pool.......
.......swimming under the cascading sheet of water as it hits the pool.
This is an ancient kauri stump situated at the beginning of the falls walk which you can walk under and through to its hollow centre.
An large old rata tree with some cool knarly roots.
Another bush walk we did was the Maungaroa Lookout track that gave us some beautiful views out over the coastline and beyond. This was one of the longest walks we did (almost 2 hours) and the girls were getting a little tired and grumpy towards the end but thankfully Cailtin started spotting some native lizards (skinks) in the leaf mulch on the paths and a couple of kereru (native wood pigeon) which kept their minds occupied.
These last 3 photos were some of the views we took in on the Mercer bay loop walk we did on our last day. I have never done this walk before but it is a short drive from Piha. It is a loop walk along some 700 metre tall cliff tops with various lookout points along the way taking in some spectacular views up and down the coast.
This photo and the next few are taken on a walk we did one evening that takes you over the hill to look out over 'the gap' Both the girls were uncharacteristically keen to pose for photos by themselves and with each other and I let them click away on my camera.
They will kill me for putting this one up on my blog but I love seeing them having so much fun together.
And yes this is one of 'me' and Amelia. I have decided to put more of 'me' into and onto my blog this year so no more hiding behind the camera :-) Notice the bandage on my left leg? Yes I unfortunately badly pulled my calf muscle a few days beforehand and was worried I wouldn't be able to do any walking while away but it has thankfully healed quite quickly although I have not been able to run again yet. I had been looking forward to doing some early morning runs with Amelia around Piha but it was just not to be :-(
And 'me' and Cailtin. To get an idea of how high we actually are, see the specks in the water to the left of me? They are surfers waiting for the perfect wave in the evening light.
Sun setting taken from the northern side of Lion rock.
Sunsets taken at The Gap lookout.
I hope you have enjoyed this rather long post dedicated to 'Piha'. I so enjoyed showing my girls around and re-living some fond childhood memories. It was perfect weather the whole time we were away and we came back more tanned than when we left along with feeling a little more refreshed, rested and ready to enjoy what 2013 has to offer us.
As from tomorrow they are both back at school so I am looking forward to getting back into some serious sewing and some more regular blogging of course.