Re-Unions and Introductions

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Well so far, I'm quite impressed with Whitianga. Similar to the Bay of Islands it has a population of around 4,000 which swells to over 40,000 in the summer. After speaking with a few locals, it seems to have particularly boomed over the last few years. Apparently, up until three years ago, Whitianga and a lot of the Coromandel had no proper road structures, just dusty tracks.

So we had a good look around today and I must admit, the village itself does feel newly developed as well as feeling as if its stuck in time a little. Nevertheless, it is a very pleasant little town with a small 'close-knit' community. The road along the beach front is long, sweeping and very picturesque, with palm trees lining the route.

We had a good walk around the town and stopped off at a place called 'Smitty's' for refreshments. It had inviting looking seats outside under the shade of the sun and the food that was being brought out from inside was looking particularly attractive. Without dragging this one out, within moments of us sitting down I discovered that Dean works here. He wasn't there at the time but I managed to track him down and we met up later.

It was really great to see him again and he's doing fine, working at Smitty's on a Saturday and in a popular restaurant called 'The Fireplace' most evenings. After a few beers and a good catch up, we decided to move on. We walked past a sign out on the footpath advertising 'cheap handles and free pool' and immediately walked up the set of stairs that led up to 'Hairy's'. We were the only ones in there apart from the owner and a couple of rugged looking locals, who gestured and called us over the moment we walked in. So we did, instantly and silently and I reckon all three of us were bricking it secretly - I for one had certainly got my reservations. A split second later and the panic was over. Friendliness yet again. We all introduced ourselves with the ever popular two-way handshake and got talking about where we were all from. Before we knew it we'd had a couple of handles of Mac's Gold and Dean had already got roped in to a game of pool with one of the locals. This is where I met 'Jeff the Boat'. He was the owner of the bar. We had been chatting for a few minutes about this and that when he promptly asked me what I was doing tomorrow. I didn't even know what day it was let alone what I was doing, apart from hobbling around. He asked if I fancied going for a ride out on his boat as he wanted to go hunting for scallops. Cool! I agreed straight away and also mentioned that I dived myself and wouldn't mind getting a few for supper. I already knew that the scallop quota in New Zealand was twenty per person and they must be a minimum length of 100mm. The more people Jeff can get on that boat, the more scallops he can bring to shore. For me, it was a chance to do my first 'freedom dive' since my course and also to catch a few scallops myself as that would be another new experience that I was keen to realise. So it was set. Apart from the weather which was still appalling. No problem, we swapped numbers and agreed we would wait. All I would have to do is hire some gear on the day from the local dive centre round the corner.

Well what a result! How things turn out eh? So now I'm getting excited about diving again as it's been far too long. Fingers crossed for the weather..
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