Raglan lookout

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This is the view of Ngarunui beach from the lookout in the Bryant Memorial Reserve at Raglan. I think it may be my favourite spot in the whole world. Twice last week I walked up the hill from Manu Bay, stopping often to watch the tui (and once a huge kereru preening itself on an exposed branch). After pausing at the bench overlooking the surf break, I walked down the steps, along the path shaded by tall ferns and onto the lookout platform. Sitting in the warm summer sun, listening to the waves breaking on the rocks far below and watching the surfers, the boaties and the birds is idyllic. I don’t think I would ever tire of it even if I went there every week. As it is, I get only there about twice a year now and it is all the more special because of the long break between visits.

Whale of a time

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We’re back in one of our favourite places in the world – Raglan on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Yesterday I walked from Manu Bay to Whale Bay, stopping many times along the way to enjoy the spectacular views of the Tasman Sea. It was a calm, sometimes sunny afternoon and the sky was a wide blue arc over the sea. There were surfers out in the waves at Manu and Whale Bays and also further along at the world famous surf spot, Indicators. The waves crashed onto the boulders at the shoreline and the pebbly sand was innumerable shades of brown and grey. I had a swing at the Whale Bay reserve and watched two Monarch butterflies fly overhead. I walked back to Manu Bay where Jim was still in the surf and watched as the light began to fade and the far hills disappeared into the dark, with the wonderful thought that we would wake up the next day in this paradise.

Kiwi kindness

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We have received so much generosity from family and friends since we’ve been back in New Zealand – from comfortable accommodation and delicious meals to meeting for a coffee or lunch and a catch-up chat. We’ve travelled around from Awhitu to Auckland to Ohaupo to Raglan and back to Auckland, all in superb summer weather. We’ve experienced kindness from Kiwis we had not previously met. Like Lois who runs the Pollok gallery and cafe – she made us coffees and while we enjoyed them in the courtyard, she sat and chatted like we were old friends. Like the woman who came across me sitting on a bench overlooking Manu Bay where Jim was out in the surf. She asked if I was OK and after I’d reassured her, she told me that she often meets people up there who are lonely and not OK and she takes them into town for a coffee. How amazing is she! You’re probably wondering about the kitten in the denuded Christmas tree in the photo above. She belongs to our friends in whose lovely home we stayed last weekend. She crawled into my arms, sleepy and purring, at the end of a perfect day.

Raglan

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My first post on this blog in December 2013 was about Raglan and we are back here, staying in our friends’ lovely bach on the Raglan harbour. This is the view from the front deck. I can’t really express how wonderful it is to be here. The harbour with its ever-changing hues and water levels as the tide ebbs and flows, the sea birds flying past the windows of our upstairs bedroom, the clouds casting their shadows over the green hills and contrasting with patches of bright sunshine that glisten on the water – one never tires of it. We’ve been over to the beaches every day in rain and/or sunshine – Jim goes into the surf and I take long walks along the coast, stopping to watch a tui using his clicks, squawks and trills to call his mate or a pair of wood pigeons foraging along a high bough. We’ve had the best of coffees at the Shack (a cafe in town) and sipped New Zealand sauvignon blanc while waiting for our lamb chops to barbecue. We’ve joined friends for dinner in their bach and gone over to the wharf to buy fish and chips. It will be hard to leave but so good to have spent some time in this magical place.

Sunday morning at Raglan

View of Raglan

View of Raglan

We drove from Ohaupo to Raglan early on Sunday morning, which was calm and clear. As we went over the hill, this is the view that greeted us. Although we’ve done this trip scores of times over the last few years, my heart never fails to lift when I see the blue of the harbour and the sunlight shining on the bar. Jim went into the surf at Manu Bay and I did my customary walk up the hill and into Bryant reserve. I had the lookout, from which you can look back at Manu Bay and out along the main beach, to myself. I sat there for a long time – this may be my last visit for a while! A group of four shags flew by at eye level and then settled on the water just beyond the surfers, who were waiting for the next set of waves. The line “Earth has not anything to show more fair” went through my head, followed closely by “Look thy last on all things lovely”. Clearly I was on the verge of becoming maudlin. I got up and walked briskly back down to Manu Bay, picking up several discarded beer cans and drink bottles on the way – a sure way to banish any sentimental thoughts.