Stony Bay 45 km pursuit
With three days to get up to Stony Bay on the lonliest part of the Coromandel peninsula, I left too much to fate on day three. Each leg of the trip was easy, fun, and in retrospect, too short. The towns are spaced all wrong for me to reach a remote spot on rutty, very hillacious terrain at ten a.m. on a given day.
Especially if you’ve been softened to the melting point at the Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat 12 km from Stony Bay. I’d enjoyed a solitary soak in the ferny spa along the river–whose name (Tangiaro) means “weeping love”.
I had more of a Weeping Relief sensation walking into the Tui Lodge, my haven for the next 14 hours.
The 800 acre retreat is an impressive example of what you get when hospitality, comfortable luxuries and eco-planning converge: wildlands in perpetuity (emphasis on the Tui) in exchange for permission to build several sensitively sited guest lodges around the cafe dining room & conference center.
The manager, Katharina Hecht, is a trained bird biologist who moved to NZ after spending her five yr work visa volunteering on bird projects around the country.
She took me for a kiwi-hunt (and glow-worm stumble) under pitch black skies next to the sobbing (sounded more like riffling to me) brook, then I fell into such a deep sleep that I got up late, and fruitlessly raced over six hellish dirt hills with washboard (which relieved my bike rack of the nice down L.L. Bean sleeping bag I’ve been using, plus my Marmot rainwear–now I’m the one sobbing, a little)….
The next two hours I zipped along the scenic walkway to Fletcher Bay, with varying accounts of how far ahead the kids, Sam and Conagh, were ahead of me.
“Fuffteen minutes” (that’s how kiwis say it).
“Van hower” (that’s how French say one hour).
And so on…Luckily I got a motorist to STOP them so I could finally ride with them the last half of this epic (more than I’d intended) ride.
Some other day I ‘ll tell you about leaving my backpack/passport/moolah and addressbook in the back of a D.O.C. truck…
And expect more about Helen Macky, the ‘wanderer’, single mom, chef and wonderful hostess…
And maybe about Tidewater Youth Hostel, and the INCREDIBLE Jarvis, who took care of a high-maintenance tired old Wombat…