Kawhia is a sacred place. Tainui people arrived from Hawaiiki about 600 years ago and at the place we now know as Kawhia they found a harbour for food and forests for shelter so they stayed. There is a lot about the area that hasn’t changed. People still gather pipi, oysters, mussels, cockles and mud snails at low tide and they travel from place to place on horseback. A few entrepreneurs make a living from horse treks, fishing charters and visitor accommodation but Kawhia, population 650, is quite literally the end of the road. It gets a whole lot busier in the summer though but for most of the year, Kawhia is the place that time (and most tourists) forgot.
Kawhia is a 2- hour drive from Auckland. It’s an easy road for the most part; for the last few kilometres the road winds through the hills and it’s so easy on the eye that it’s hard to focus on driving. I’ve got a cabin booked at a harbour side camping ground. It’s small but clean and warm and the view from the deck stretches out across the water to the dunes and the Tasman Sea beyond. There are kayaks to borrow but not for me; it’s too cold for that for this Aucklander.
From Kawhia, Aotea beach is just 10 minutes away. There are 17 permanent homes at Aotea but many many more holiday homes. This is where you come to experience a summer holiday the way it used to be in New Zeland. This is the West coast so the sand is fine and black and the beach is very photogenic. The walk back to the car takes much longer against the wind. This time I notice writing in the sand “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” There’s no one around and the letters are being blasted by the wind. I hope the message was seen by the right person and I hope that the answer was yes.
Categories: North Island