A town best known for its toilets

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Majella and I were awake at 7:00 am and eating breakfast when Harry woke without prompting and joined us a little before 8:00 am. Once breakfast was done we cleared things away, packed, tidied, farewelled Grant, and were on the road just before 9:00 am.

I set navigation for our next accommodation near Paihia and Majella drove us out of town. On the way she noticed fuel at $2.53 and wondered about buying some. We still had a quarter tank and decided to drive on and get some later, perhaps when we wanted a break.

It had been raining when we woke and that continued through the morning, all the way to Auckland and beyond. The scenery until we reached the city was mostly green grass and swollen streams.

As we approached the harbour bridge we decided to leave the motorway beyond it to look for fuel. My map showed a Mobil near where we exited so I navigated there but Majella was not impressed by $2.69. She drove around a bit passing a couple of others and eventually settled for $2.65. She drove back onto the motorway and we continued northward.

As we approached Auckland I had managed to navigate online payment for tolls going north and south so we stayed on the tollway which runs for a short section of the north road. Beyond that the road narrowed and some long sections of roadworks reduce the speed limit to 50 kph for kilometres at a time. The rain and wind intensified.

An hour or so further on the rain eased and Majella found a spot to pull up. We ate a couple of biscuits and changed drivers. 

I drove on to Whangerei which we reached around 1:00 pm. I parked near the city centre and we found a cafe that was open for lunch. Harry had the mini-breakfast (bacon, sausage, egg, and toast) with coke. Majella and I had toasties with coffee.

Majella drove on from there through country that looked saturated with water lying in any depression. Occasionally the rain eased for a bit but mostly it continued as we drove on through misty hills.

We made one stop, at Kawakawa, to see the the Hundertwasser toilets. We had heard about the toilets from Majella’s friend Janet and Harry knows someone with a connection to the town. Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian architect and artist who worked all over the world but resided in Kawakawa for much of the time between the 1970s and his death in 2000. 

The toilets, which he had been asked by the local community to redesign and rebuild were opened in 1999. They are remarkable for the colourful tiling and other design features. More recently the town has built a museum and civic centre in his memory. We viewed both the toilets and the museum exhibits. The woman who was looking after the museum made sure that we saw the additional toilets and showers there that had been decorated after the style of Hundertwasser.

From there it was a short drive to our accommodation at Hihitahi Rise, about 10 minutes short of Paihia where we stayed when touring with friends in 2020. There was some confusion with the keysafe because I had forgotten that the code had been sent to me when I booked early in August. I was expecting the more common Airbnb arrangement of sending such details in the final 24 hours. Miriam, our host, came out of the house and gave us the code for the key. With that we were able to access the 2 bedroom apartment at the back of the house with our view across the treetops to the bay.

We took a few minutes to settle in and then headed into town to confirm pickup details for our bus trip to Cape Reinga that leaves at 7:00 am tomorrow. That will be an early start. With details confirmed and information about parking we walked back to the car, with one stop to buy some fudge along the way.

By then it was a little after 3:00 pm. That left time enough to visit the Waitangi Treaty site. When we arrived there we found it was open until 5:00 pm but that performances and guided tours had finished for the day. Tickets are good for two days so depending on weather and other attractions we might get back on Monday morning. We decided to look at the museum before heading out into the rain to see the treaty ground.

The museum was opened in 2016 so was not there when we visited in 2010. It has displays covering the arrival of Maori (ca 1200) and Europeans (1642) and the interactions between the peoples and cultures since that time. The Treaty of Waitangi is central to Aotearoa New Zealand identity and history and, though it has not always been honoured by government, it is much to be preferred to the Australian position of no treaty at all. Perhaps that omission will be rectified in our life time.

Harry spent significant time inspecting some of the displays. They were well presented and offered a broad overview of Aotearoa New Zealand history. The video dramatising the actual treaty process was entertaining and pointed in its commentary on how the treaty was translated for the Maori with some of the key terms of the English version rendered less than completely accurately.

We spent most of our available time in the museum and the shop but did have a little time left to get outside and see the large canoes (waka). Harry was very interested in how they had been constructed.

We found our way to the exit just after 5:00 pm. It was too early then for dinner so we drove back to our apartment and relaxed for a while. Sometime after 6:00 pm we drove out again to Paihia looking for ‘fush and chups’ for dinner. The first place we tried did not do crumbed fish and Majella does not do battered. Luckily we found another that was happy to do crumbed for us and battered for Harry but insisted we have dory rather than hoki because hoki does not take crumbs well. That might come as a surprise to our regular Thursday night vendor that provides us with crumbed hoki.

We took our dinner back to the apartment where we ate it in comfort. Then it was time to relax and prepare for an early start tomorrow.


1 Response

  1. Makes me wonder if you are getting Hoki with your crumbed hoki at your local .. jus’sayin