An Un­pre­ten­tious Utopia

Let's Travel - - NEW ZEALAND -

The wee lad could just see over the side of the boat and with a light­weight rod and reel he would drop his coloured jig­ging lure to the seabed and start the slow lift of the rod and then be­tween each lift reel in seven times be­fore drop­ping the lure back to the bot­tom again. If he hadn’t caught a fish within about five min­utes with a sigh he’d ask the skip­per, “Nick can you change my lure to an­other colour please?’ Yet as soon as he hooked a snap­per he would start reel­ing in the line from 40m down, his tiny frame hold­ing onto that rod with all his might, send­ing him red in the face un­til Nick lifted the fish over the gun­nel. He’d then look at his dad and say, “See I told you it was a big ‘un.”

We were in the Hau­raki Gulf, half­way be­tween Kawau Is­land and Lit­tle Bar­rier Is­land fish­ing from Nick’s ap­pro­pri­ately named char­ter boat, Playin’ Hooky. The weather was over­cast and warm with just a slight swell. There were six of us on board; Chris and Meg and their young son Kelly from Auck­land, Neil from Eng­land who now lives in Auck­land, and his vis­it­ing fa­ther-in-law Mike from York­shire, who at one point stated, “Flip­pin’ beats fish­ing in’t North Sea does this.” In­side three hours we had caught our quota of fish, mainly big snap­per, a large trevally, a good-sized ka­hawai, a small jack mack­erel and even a red gurnard.

The week­end had started on a Fri­day as I made my way to Auck­land Sea­planes on Wyn­yard Wharf for a flight on their 1961 De Hav­il­land Beaver float­plane. How­ever, when I ar­rived I was told the wind had picked up and it would be too danger­ous to land in open seas. The al­ter­na­tive was to take a boat jour­ney with Auck­land Sea Shut­tles but they were al­ready booked out for the af­ter­noon. The de­ci­sion was quickly made to drive me 45 min­utes north to Sand­spit Wharf near Wark­worth to catch the 4 pm ferry across to my fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, Kawau Is­land – named af­ter the Maori name for the shag (cor­morant) bird.

Clam­our­ing to get on board the ferry at the wharf were about 30 school kids from Taka­puna who were head­ing to Camp Bent­zon (the is­land’s only youth camp­ground) with a host of school­teach­ers, moth­ers and fa­thers. They were only go­ing for two days but there was enough equip­ment and ba­nana boxes of food to last weeks it seemed. There was so much to load, the ferry was 20 min­utes late de­part­ing, enough time to have a glass of wine.

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