The day promised to be hot and sunny, so where better than the beach to enjoy our antipodean alternative? We headed straight out to Mount Maunganui - a stunning cove on New Zealand's Bay of Plenty coastline overlooked by Mauao - an ancient volcanic core that juts out into the turqoise Pacific waters. The area itself was one of the worst affected by oil slick caused by the grounding of the Rena, the stricken cargo ship that lay fractured on the Astrolab Reef 10 miles out. But aside from its listing silhouette on the horizon, and a few recent shark sightings, there was no visible sign of any of the effects. The beach was pristine, and the waters were clear, and the waves were perfect.
As a present to ourselves, Amy and I had invested in a second hand sit-on kayak a few days before Christmas so that we could really enjoy and explore the lakes and coastline as we travelled round the country. We'd found ourselves seething with jealousy each time we'd seen something casually float by, so we thought it was about time. Needless to say I spent all morning playing in the surf, paddling with a big grin on my face! Amy was in her element, basking on the beach like a lizard.
That afternoon, we fired up the barbecue. We filled ourselves with big skewers of prawns, with snapper, with juicy corn-on-the-cob, and enormous fillet steaks while we made the most of the beautiful weather. We returned to the campsite that evening to find our friend Helen on reception duty so we spent the evening enjoying more food, bottles of wine and a cheeseboard. Some old habits die hard!