WAIKAWA LODGE -- East Coast -North- Island- NZ
This an exract from a journal by a small party of people who toured this lovely part of New Zealand by Jacqueline Steincamp . I have stayed near by with our family . Wonderful place
Entering the Lonely Planet world
Four of us stayed at Waikawa Lodge at the southern end of the bay. This is a six-person chalet belonging to Anne Bogle (formerly legal advisor to the then fledgling MP and Environment Minister Helen Clark) and her partner Jimmy Chatfield. They and their two children live nearby in a crazy, book-filled house at the furthest end of an improbable road.
Anne and Jimmy make a living by taking guests, breeding horses, breaking them in and selling them. Anne keeps her hand in the law business, especially in environmental matters. She's also a valued member of the area's District Health Board. Jimmy is a great horseman, big, very strong and seemingly tireless. He was the leading Black Horseman in "Fellowship of the Ring".
They offer horse trekking to their guests, and general riding along the spectacular beaches, on tracks through the bush covered hills or on the quiet road through the little Maori settlements. That Waikawa Lodge features favourably in the latest Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand, indicates that this will be a holiday with a difference.
Jimmy met us outside the general store at Te Puia and led the way to "Lee Tamahori's place", where we left our cars. Lee is a noted film director who cut his teeth on films like "Once Were Warriors" and is directing the next James Bond film. This area is his turangawaewae the place of his family, his home and his heart.
We'd been warned before that we would be wise to take the offer of being driven in. At first we thought Jimmy was exaggerating. Not so. Reality struck after the big 4WD turned off the tar seal at Waipiro. We held on like nervous clams, thankful to have left our late model town cars up the hill. In places the track negotiates rocky outcrops on the beach, crosses nasty streams, and lumbers up steep bluffs. Gates in awkward places add to the challenge.
So what was it like to stay there? A welcome dinner with the biggest, juiciest crayfish imaginable - freshly caught by Jimmy. Comfortable beds, cozy lounge with a fabulous view, diesel generated electricity, a shower out of Beverley Hillbillies.
There's an outdoor long-drop with no door and a view straight into the treetops, and over them to the headlands and the sea. Friendly fantails flutter around, even inside the edifice. At night moreporks (little native owls) call to one another - a haunting cry that is now but rarely heard. The biggest, brightest moon in all the world shone down for us on that empty sea and eerie land.
A land not for riding
It is unstable land, constantly shifting and falling down. Much of the countryside turned, literally, to lumpy custard as a result of Cyclone Bola in 1988. We learnt this for ourselves when looking for lost horses. Holes and hillocks everywhere - and because there are few livestock to keep the grass down, waist high paspalum smothers everything. Fortunately, that same grass made a soft landing when we fell into holes.
Horse riding along the beach
Source Waikawa Lodge
The next day, it was up the coast to find those horses. A swim helped us on our way. How far can horses wander without someone giving them ideas, we wondered as we trudged on up the beach. We asked at a Maori enclave with a small stockade around the few makeshift buildings above the beach. The flag of Aotearoa, a handsome, two-colour Maori design, flew proudly from a little watch tower. It is not often seen, and to our minds, looked wonderful.
This small family settlement was on undeveloped Maori land with access from the beach only. No power, no telephone, no sewage, and with water supplies that had vanished after a long dry summer. The residents, true survivors on their own ancestral lands, were doing their best to create incomes by rearing day-old chicks and pigs. The pigs were having a great life - some were having a dip in the sea as we arrived.
We warned the residents that Jimmy would be coming out on horseback to look for the horses very soon. Such a warning is politically correct in the area. No-one wants unwary intruders tripping over their marijuana patches.
Jimmy rode out the next evening to bring the missing horses in. By the time he reached this enclave, the tide was up and the route was blocked. So he was invited in for a meal - sausages cooked up in tomato soup and freeze-dried vegetables, washed down with Coke or Fanta. Then on up the coast, until the horses came down from the hills to meet him. His ride home with them on this balmy night beside the sparkling sea was lit by that brilliant moon.
So what of the future?
There is massive forestation going on everywhere - just about the only thing possible after the damage caused by Cyclone Bola. So almost every piece of open ground is covered with immature pines. The owners are largely Asian - companies like Hikurangi Forest Farms, and an Asian joint venture company with the local people, Ngati Porou. The old wharves are being strengthened. Gisborne Harbour is being improved, and a major timber processing plant has just been approved for the city.
Yes, a new dawn is on the way for the East Coast as the wheel turns full circle. First the forests are felled, and then they are planted again. Let us hope this dawn will not be as short-lived as those which were promised in the past.
Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan