Sunday, June 18, 2017

Magical Mangawhai

i am always up for a local experience.  i can be a sucker for "touristy" things as well but if i get the chance act like a local, i am all about that.

We had some friends graciously invite us to their "bach" for a kiwi experience.  Bach is one of the first foreign words we learned when we moved here.  Pronounced batch, it is know as a small & modest summer home.  Originally it was often a very tiny home with very basic and minimal construction.  At times more of a sleeping shelter without running water and electricity.  Today these homes are certainly more modern but still usually small in size and still referred to as a bach.

During the summer, beach loving kiwis (who likely already live near the sea) pack up their things and head out to a different beach and stay in a bach or campground for weeks at a time.  It may seem odd to leave your local beach to live at another beach only an hour away.   However the beaches and weather here can differ so much in such a short space of distance.

For example, on the west coast of Auckland you can find black sand beaches with no trees, big surf and dangerous undertow.  

This beach called Piha and has a tide and current/rip so forceful it is an extremely dangerous place to swim.
It is a popular tourist location the local Surf Life Saving Club is extremely busy rescuing clueless tourist and overconfident locals.  Some days on the beach you can watch as they film the "Piha Rescue" TV show.  Think Reality Baywatch with a lot less Hollywood glamour and a lot more swimsuit.   

However, on the east coast 45 minutes away at "our beach" as we fondly refer to it, there is little to no surf, bendy pohutukawa trees and light coloured sand.
To get to our friend's bach, we drove about an hour north to experience a different bit of NZ. 
Mangawhai Heads 

It is another stunning place!

We were looking forward to a local experience and have never been to this well known area referred to as Magical Mangawhai.  A beautiful NZ summer day filled with kiwi activities and a meal of freshly caught pipis (Pip-ees) was what was on order.

The first part of the day was spent hunting for our dinner.  One must wade out to the pipi spot when the tide is going out. 

Look for the spots where pipis have buried themselves in the sand.

Celebrate finding the first one!  It is a bit trickier than one might think.  

Collect a bucket but remember the limit of 150 per person.  (Ha!  Not a problem, only wanted a tasting not a years supply.) 

Take a swim break from the pipi search.  Did i mention it is hard work? 

Let the kids sand surf into the water.

The last time they did this was in Dubai except there wasn't any water at the end of that run.

Next take the boat out for some "biscuiting" a.k.a tubing and wake boarding.    

Quaint little fact about NZ:  tractors are the common source of transportation for the boats here.  We find them parked at various places around the beaches.

We discovered NZ doesn't have the same boating regulations as CA.  Chris and i used to be so annoyed that we were required by law to have at least two people ages 14 and up IN THE BOAT.  One could drive and the other must hold up the orange flag to warn other boaters of the skier in the water.  We thought it put a real damper on our ski fun when the kids were younger and we couldn't find a last minute 3rd person to come with us.  NZ doesn't require this and i actually felt quite uncomfortable about it, especially when my kiddos were out in the water with no orange flag to protect them.  To ensure their safety,  i thought i would hold up an orange life jacket so other boaters would obviously know i was signifying we had someone in the water so 
Keep a Safe Distance.    

Yeah, so that didn't translate :-(  Kyle was getting ready to go for a run and in the water adjusting the rope when another boat sped by us WAY too close, catching our tow rope in its motor and ripping it from Kyle's hand only to snap it back to him with the handle barely missing his head.  The rope was originally around Kyle's hand but somehow THANKFULLY and miraculously he was only left with a rope burn rather than a missing hand.   We all recovered and were able to carry on with the fun.  Whew!   

Steamed pipis for dinner.  They turned out to be a smaller and stronger flavoured version of clams.  Next time i personally would do a US spin on them and put them in a chowder.   
None of us were a huge fan of them but we did enjoy the whole experience of it all.  

i always find it interesting and a bit humbling that a day at the beach with seemingly familiar activities can take on a unique twist and flavour when they take place in a different country.   NZ never ceases to amaze us.  

Later that night, we drove back home through dense fern filled forests scattered amongst the patches of rolling green hills dotted with sheep.  

Exhausted, we crawled into our own beds and fall asleep to the rhythm of small slaps of waves out our window, feeling very thankful for our little local NZ life.  


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