Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Port Jackson - New Zealand

On good advice we made our way to a remote DOC site in the north east of the north island called Port Jackson.  It was quite a considerable drive which took most of the day albeit the second half being amongst extremely beautiful scenery.  We stopped off to get some lunch from an AMAZING smoke house which smoked all kinds of hot and cold seafood.  I could have spent a lot of time and money there but I was lucky to have Kate to prize me off the glass.  The roads were particularly bad for the last hour just as the sun had gone down and Kate’s nails were digging into the seat more than usual as we negotiated the odd sheer drop or two.  There was a manager staying at the site with his family who told us to use the honesty box as he had finished up for the season. Other than this fella we were the only people on this massive and wonderful site right on the beach.  The next day we opened the boot of the van to a wonderful view of the sea and decided to wake up with a chilly and refreshing swim.  The campsite also had cold showers to get the salt out and this was a sure fire way to get the pulse running in the morning.

My favourite shop in the world - The Coromandel Smoking Company

The biggest dilemma was to decide what to buy

Smoked Salmon, kippers, eel, mackerel, kingfish, Kahawai, tuna, mussels...

We did these roads at night on the way up, scary!

We splashed around in the rock pools with a loose plan of getting winkles and oysters as bait to do a bit of fishing ourselves.  I had a line and hooks in a survival kit we brought along which we tied to a stick as a makeshift rod.  There were tons of oysters amongst the rocks but most were a bit too small to be worth prizing off and eating.  Having collected a load of winkles as well as a starfish, a sea snail, a horrible goby type fish and a small crab for good measure we set out on the twenty minute walk or so to a half decent fishing spot.  

Bait results

Winkles: We thought that the winkles would be an easy choice for bait but it turned out that they were pretty resourceful when it came to not being impaled on our hooks as they could block off the entrance to their shell and smashing them was too messy (Sea Creatures 1 - Paul and Kate 0).

Sea Snail: The snail oozed out bright green goo all over my hands when poked which I quickly washed off and threw him back in the sea (Sea Creatures 2 - Paul and Kate 0).

Goby: So we decided to chop up the goby fish.  Having left it to suffocate for more than ample time I took the knife to it for it to just wiggle around a lot.  Chopping its head off didn’t seem to solve the issue either as every time its tail was touched it flicked around violently.  We had to pin it down in order to chop it up and put it on the line but after half an hour or so there were no bites to be had (Sea Creatures 3 - Paul and Kate 0). 

Oysters: The oysters were too slimy and just slipped off (Sea Creatures 4 - Paul and Kate 0).

Starfish: Using the starfish as bait seemed cruel for some reason (Sea Creatures 5 - Paul and Kate 0).

Live Crab: We then remembered that we had a tiny crab which we put on one of the hooks still alive and kicking.  It didn’t take long until Kate got a bite and we were halfway through hauling the thing up when it wriggled off the hook but at least we had found good bait. 

I went back for more crabs but the tide had already come up over most of the rocks so I only managed to get about five and by the time I had returned it was getting quite cold and dark so we gave them their freedom and postponed fishing until the next day.   

Fisherwoman Kate

Fisherman Paul
Modern day sheep herding involves quad bikes - awesome!

After our wakeup swim and shower we got right on the task in hand which was to capture our crabby bait from the rock pools.  A minor catastrophe occurred when the wind blew over the bucket causing us to lose most of our crabs but we carried on the hunt and were soon stocked up again and even had a small spider crab which we kept but didn’t really know what we would do with it.  When we got to our fishing site it became apparent that we had been too keen as the tide was out so we needed to come back later.  To kill time we had a walk along the beach to another set of rocks.  One rock had green lip mussels happily growing on it which I would have loved to ravage for dinner but as most of them were undersize we left them alone, it was still cool to see them growing naturally.  We headed back to fishing and our optimism slowly waned as time went on and our crabs got stolen without us managing to snag anything.  We still enjoyed the outdoors and as the rain came down we both saw the most beautiful rainbow ever which made it worthwhile.  It lingered for a long time but unfortunately it was too big to get in one shot; perhaps we could put a couple together to give a better representation.

Mussels growing on the rocks that we found on our stroll

We spent as much time in the rock pools as these guys
The best rainbow ever

Three nights was starting to feel too comfortable in our wilderness paradise so we bid farewell to Port Jackson for our next destination of the Bay of Islands which was apparently a very popular stomping ground for tourists. 

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