Ohope, New Zealand – February 4, 2018
In preparation for our departure from Taupo, I entered the address of our next destination into our TomTom GPS unit. I have the GPS set to default to the fastest route. I did not realize it at the time; the savings of 14 minutes cost us dearly. We missed seeing the sites of the hot springs that dot the area around Rotorua.
At some point, TomTom directed us off the main road onto several tiny and lightly traveled country toads. We ended up in a very thick pine forest. At a stop sign, TomTom directed a left turn. However, a sign stated it was private property; one could not enter unless one had a permit. I looked to the right. There was a similar sign. The thought of backtracking through kilometers of rural emptiness did not appeal to me. I turned left.
The forest was an active logging location. However, since it was a weekend, we saw no logging trucks. In fact, for dozens and dozens of kilometers, we saw no other sign of humans. There were no towns, no rest stops, no petrol stations, nothing. I must say it was a bit eerie. I did have some fleeting thoughts of what we would do if we had some mechanical problems, but I quickly chased those from my mind.
We ultimately made it back to civilization and a proper highway. While the route through the forest was beautiful, I do not think I would recommend the shortcut to anyone.
After nearly two and one-half hours, we arrived at the Beachpoint Resort in Ohope. The accommodation and the locale were so stunning; we decided to move our tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set ahead by one day.
We arrived too early to be able to check-in to the apartment. Instead, we parked just across the street from the Beachpoint Resort. Armed with our reusable bags, we began combing Ohope Beach. It was very windy, and the Pacific was furious. I discovered later that what we witnessed was the tail-end of a massive storm paired with a king tide. There were piles of driftwood and seaweed. There was also some visible damage to fencing along the beach.
I did not realize it at the time, but White Island is visible from Ohope Beach. White Island, Whakaari in the Maori language, is one of two active volcanoes in New Zealand. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very active, White Island is rated at 1. The other active volcano, Mount Ruapehu, is also rated as a 1. Mount Ruapehu is to the south of Lake Taupo. We could not see it while we were there because of the weather. The other 10 active volcanoes in the country are all rated as zeros on the scale.
Ohope Beach is huge. However, the lifeguards only provide supervision at a 100-meter stretch of beach. They set up two flags about 100-meters apart. In between the flags, they have a high chair and a rescue boat. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people in the surf.
With our few shells and some bits of driftwood, we walked back to the car. Leslie had talked with one of the locals. He told her there was a pier down the road to the east. We drove a long way but never saw a dock. We did; however, see several signs, Avos $1. We decided the vendors were selling freshly harvested avocados.
Since we did not find the pier, we decided to turn around and find a place for lunch. We stumbled across The Quay Café. My lunch of grilled prawn skewers was terrific, served with three different dipping sauces. It was some of the best I had in a long time. I highly recommend the café.
After lunch, we walked across the street to the park. There was a wild game food festival in full swing. The only thing I found that I was interested in was the beer booth set up by Mata Brewery. We opted for a Mata Blondie, a delicious Belgian style wheat beer. Mom joined us with a Lemmy Lemonade.
When we finished, it was time to check-in. Once settled, Leslie and I headed to the store to get things for our Mexican feast that night. With groceries in hand, we headed back to the beach. Since the menu was Mexican food, Leslie thought it would be nice to buy some of the avocados. We drove back to where we had seen the avocados for sale. This is a very trusting country. The avocados were in a box near another box in which one is to deposit the payment. The entire time Leslie was at the box, there was no human interaction. Leslie selected the avocado she wanted, tossed a coin in the box, and got back in the car.
The next day, we did some beachcombing and just relaxed. The relaxation stopped after Leslie and I were trounced in two games of Yahtzee. Regardless, it was a lot of fun.