Friday, May 23, 2008

Whakatane to Coromandel

This morning before departing from Whakatane, I had a delicious breakfast of golden kiwi and passion fruit (halved and scooped with a spoon) in Steve and Vicky's kitchen. They also sent us off with a bag of golden kiwis that we will be enjoying for the rest of our trip. This was my first time eating passion fruit and I must say that I'm quite a fan now.

Last night at the party, we made friends with Paul, the husband of one of Steve and Vicky's co-workers who has a farm about 30 minutes west of Whakatane. He insisted that we come to visit in the morning so he could show us his farm - something that was quite interesting for us since we don't get to see that kind of thing in San Diego. We drove to the farm after breakfast, and Paul gave us the grand tour including their pet pigs, the cows, sheep (and lambs), deer, sheep shearing station with an explanation of how that works, and their sheep herding dogs, along with a new and very cute little puppy who was being trained to be a herder. We also saw caves on his property that were formed and used by the Maori to store supplies close to one of their pa sites.

Afterwards we had coffee inside and chatted with Paul and his brother, John, who is his partner in the farm. They sent us off with a bag of golden kiwi and avocados. This visit was a true highlight of our trip!

For lunch we stopped in Whangamata at Craig's Takeaways for fish and chips. I had read about this restaurant in one of my guide books, and the author went absolutely bananas for the fish and chips there, saying it was the best ever. I had the snapper and kumara (sweet potato) chips, while Dylan and had the Terakihi and regular chips. Extremely delicious - best fish and chips yet in my opinion.

After all that greasiness, we needed to redeem ourselves with a visit to a fruit stand to stock up on some nutritious, locally grown goodness for the kitchen in Coromandel Town. We got passion fruit (my new favorite), persimmon, plums, tamarillos (also a new favorite), tomatoes, onions, garlic, spinach and the truly necessary staple of brussels sprouts.

After the fruit stop, we crossed through Thames and into the Coromandel Peninsula. It is paradise here! Dense hillsides of native bush and farm land dangle over the ocean, with bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds and rainbows overhead!!! Our studio apartment is in Coromandel Town, surrounded by trees, with no other houses in sight. The owner is an artist and designed the interior which has some of her artwork, a wood stove, an earthen floor and lots of other funky touches.

We found a bakery and butcher in town, so have covered all the bases with our produce stop earlier today for a nice dinner at home.

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