my favourite place

the moment I met my new host Riah, I knew I was in for a good treat!
she had a very positive vibe since the very first second.
She’s a Maori girl that actually SPEAKS Maori. she works in the local radio station in Kaitaia and she and her dad, Ricky, live together in Ahipara.

first we went to pack n’ save in Kaitaia, and I bought stuff to make dinner that night: quesadillas. and then we went to her sister’s house to pick up her dad.

Ahipara is a 15 min drive from Kaitaia, and it’s the very beginning of the 90 Mile Beach (which is actually 55 miles long).
when we got to the town I couldn’t really see much of the beach and stuff, but from Riah’s house (which by the way was a beautiful house and one of the cleanest I’ve ever been to) I could see why I wanted to come here… I’ve been wanting to go to a nice beach ever since I got to the Northland.

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I started making some ham and cheese quesadillas for dinner, teaching Riah how to flip the tortilla… so the last ones she did them by herself, and she called them “great party food”.

flipping the quesadilla

flipping the quesadilla

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after dinner we went to visit her friend Trudy taking her the last quesadillas, which she also thought they were “great party food”.
then we had some drinks with her in the toolshed in the back. Riah had taken a couple of bourbon and cola cans, so I had one… terrible mistake!!! after I finished it I started feeling sick, I excused myself and went out to the garden to throw up, while I tried to shoo the cat away (THAT would’ve been even MORE embarrassing!). I came back in, not being able to look them in the eye and apologising ALL the time!

back in the two bedroom house, Ricky offered to sleep on the couch and gave me his room… I didn’t want to take it, I thought it was enough for them to have me staying in their house, and I really didn’t mind sleeping on the couch at all! but he insisted, so I gratefully took it.

next day, while Riah went to work, Ricky and I set off for a big walk in town. I had contacted the hostel from Ahipara because they needed someone to work there in return for accommodation, and I really, really wanted to stay in Ahipara for a while. so Ricky took me to the hostel, and then he went fishing on the beach while walking back home.

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the hostel, Endless Summer Lodge, is just beautiful! a lovely old house with a huge garden on the front and just a couple of meters away from the beach. there I talked to the owner to see if they still needed someone, but unfortunately the guys that were working there were going to stay for another week or so. their names: Anna and Jeronimo (any guess where they are from?…correct! Germany). I talked to them a little bit, and they seemed like very cool people. so before leaving I asked them for their phone number and gave them mine, in case they had a plan and wanted to hang or do something.

Endless Summer Lodge

Endless Summer Lodge

I walked back home on the beach, met with Ricky who was not far away fishing, and then arrived to the house where I had some lunch.

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then Riah came and took me for a drive on the beach. it was an amazing feeling!!! then she took me to Shipwreck Bay and to a sort of lookout on the hill… Ahipara, I love you!

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on Friday I went down to the beach to walk and take some pictures… I got a message from Chris telling me that he got tired of Kaitaia and was now in Ahipara. he was staying at the backpackers I had visited the previous day, so I told him I would visit him after lunch. then I saw from far away two guys with their backpacks walking towards where I was standing… I was a little bit curious to see who the hell would be walking on the beach at this time of day. I was starting to walk back home through the main road, but I realised that the only way back I knew was through the river and the park. so I walked back to the beach to take that path and came across the two backpackers I had seen from the distance: two very tall, blonde guys that were even carrying their tramping poles, seemed like they had been out on the beach for quite a while… “Germans…”‘ I thought. we just looked at each other and said “hi”.

so I went back home and had some lunch. then went down to the beach again and started walking towards the hostel to meet with my friend and “ex-husband” Chris.

I was happy to see him. I came into the hostel to have some coffee with him.

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there I saw the backpackers again, cleaning their tent and getting rid of all the sand. I was interested in them, so I started with the now well-practiced ice-breaking questions:

me: “sooo, where are you guys from?” (expecting the obvious answer, I thought I should’ve asked “so, what part of Germany are you guys from?”)
them: “Sweden”
me: “oh (well, that’s a surprise)! I know just one word in Swedish: skit!”
them: “ha ha ha”
guy 1: “we just saw you when we were coming in from the beach, right?”
me: “yeah! that was me… sooo, why were you walking… where have you been?”
guy 1: “we came from Cape Reinga we are walking all the way down to Bluff”
us (Chris and I): “walking?!”
them: “yes!” with a big smirk on their faces
me: “wow! so, how did you get to the Cape, then?”
guy 1: “we hitchhiked”
us: “nice!”

it seemed as if they were not really interested in having a conversation, so we left them and went to the front lawn to have a cigarette with Jeronimo and Anna.
I went back in, and met the Swedish again. I really wanted to talk to them (the fact that one of them was really cute had NOTHING to do with that… yea, right!)
me: “sooo, what are your names?”
guy 2: “I’m Sebastian”
guy 1: “I’m Robert… and you?”
me: “I’m Karen”
Robert: “have you been here for long?”
me: “I arrived in Ahipara on Wednesday, but I’ve been staying in a house near where I saw you first”
Robert: “cool! so, I’m going to go look for my sweater and buy something to drink… are you going to be here to have some beers at night?”
me: “yeah, I think so (I hope so)”.
and he left riding a bike barefoot…

the sun was starting to set, and I had been told not to wander around alone at night, so I started to worry a little bit and decided to walk back home along the beach, watching this beautiful sunset… sadly I was going to miss those beers with the cute Swedish guy…

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next day I went to visit Chris again. it seemed like no one else was in the hostel… so we walked to the fish & ships shop in town to have lunch. that night Riah’s sister, Ann, was having a housewarming party and we were both invited. so after eating we went to Riah’s house to see what was happening. she told us that we were not leaving until eight, so we asked her if she could pick us up at the hostel. so we walked back again.

the Swedish and the Germans were playing monopoly. I sat next to them while Chris sorted his things. Anna lost first, then Sebastian… Robert seemed to have a good method to make everyone owe him money… then Chris came and asked me if I wanted to play chess with him in the common room, but ended up playing backgammon. Anna and Sebastian went out for a smoke, so I joined them.. and I learnt my second word in Swedish: tack (thank you).

when eight o’ clock approached we came to say goodbye to the rest. it was the Swedish’s last night, they were leaving next morning at 4 am to continue their walking odyssey… I wanted to ask them for their emails or phone numbers, but for some reason I thought “when I meet them again…”. so with a big hug I said goodbye wishing them safe travels, and went off to the party with Riah.

we arrived to Kaitaia and went directly to the liquor shop. then to Ann’s house where the party started with drinking games. we were six girls and Chris was the only guy there (lucky bastard). we drank and played ALL night… all kinds of games, the goal was to get pissed fast, and we achieved it (some more than others)… and at 12 Ricky came to pick us up. a fast but REALLY fun party!

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next morning Riah left very early. I tried to go to the beach but the wind was very strong and I was getting blown away, so I just returned home to watch some TV with Noah (Ann’s son) and Ricky.

when Riah returned from town, we went down to the beach on her truck to pick up some pipis (clams) for dinner…

pipis

pipis

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back home I made some of them as Mexican style as possible, with the lifesaving just-add-water salsa that Sandra gave me in Australia. the rest of the pipis were cooked by Riah with some veggies, noodles and curry, she also made some mashed potatoes… is was all yum! then I packed and sat with them to watch some TV before going to bed. I was leaving next morning to do the Cape Reinga tour and I would stay in Kaitaia with the hopes of finding a ride back to wherever…

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