We cleaned the bach, packed our bags and hit the road early, to drive down to Rotorua via Tauranga. We wanted to call in to visit some friends of Sacha’s who’d emigrated to
last year. We stopped
along the way at Matamata for coffee, then took a longer break at Karangahake Gorge, an old 19th century gold mining site which now has interesting walkways through the old mine works and up the river. Part of the walkway is through tunnels drilled into the rock, for which a torch is advisable. We didn't have a torch, and it was pitch black inside - you literally had to feel your way with arms outstretched to feel the sides of the tunnel before you got round a bend from which daylight was visible. New Zealand
We spent a couple of hours at the gorge, which also had several bridges of a suspension type which were a bit wobbly - the sign said maximum 10 people.
We stayed for lunch at the café before setting off for Tauranga and arrived at mid-afternoon. We’d thought that we’d be able to find the street where Sacha's friends lived quite easily, but had been hampered by the fact that there was no wifi at the bach, and so had been unable to look it up on the internet. You don’t realise how much you take it for granted these days, until you haven’t got it! Tauranga is New Zealand’s 6th largest city, and also its fastest growing. Fortunately, we were able to follow road signs to an i-site, and get a map from there. It turned out that it was really easy to get to, and if we’d just carried on driving we’d have found it by blind luck.
We drove down to the wharf to the fresh fish market, and ordered fish & chips from the eatery there. They serve fish of the day, freshly caught, with chips on trays – none of you fancy-schmancy “plates” and “cutlery”! It wins awards every year as "best fish'n'chips" in the Bay Of Plenty. Lucinda had thoughtfully brought cutlery for all of us, as well as some cold Speight’s, tartare and tomato sauces, and vinegar. We sat outside on the dockside, our every move watched by a large flock of seagulls, who doubtless make a living by snatching food from the unwary and inattentive.
Afterwards we went for a walk along the beach towards
Mount Maunganui, where a surf boat
race was in progress;
and then had to take our leave as we wanted to get to Rotorua before night fell, in order to get into our next bach. The instructions for getting the key were somewhat convoluted, and we didn’t really want to be trying to find it in the dark! We found it with no trouble, and unpacked ourselves, nipped out for some necessary groceries from the local garage shop, before having an early night: we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow.