Urquharts Bay

Remember when we went to the Kiwi release at Urquharts Bay? While we were there, our landlord pointed out a beach just around the corner called Smuggler’s Bay. It was gorgeous, and we have visited that area several times over the past couple weeks.

The first visit was for snorkeling. Ben wanted to snorkel, and I wanted to exercise; so, I talked him into walking to the bay instead of driving. A ten minute drive took us a little over an hour to walk.

Once there, we set off on the path that winds around Busby Head.

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

On the far side of Busby Head, there are a handful of buildings leftover from a WWII gun emplacement post. One building, the Battery Observation Post, was particularly interesting. Here’s a quick overview.

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

And here’s what the inside of the post looked like…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

The landscape painting around the top of the wall was used to judge the distance and approximate location of incoming ships. Pretty neat.

We continued around the path and found a place for Ben to snorkel. The water is cold, and now the air is getting cold, so he didn’t stay in too long.

Two days later, we drove back the bay. This time, we walked a different route…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

…and spent some time on this lovely beach.

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

Ben found a good place to snorkel…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

…and I found a good spot to read a book in the shade…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

As we were leaving, we saw two more reasons to visit, a tramp to Mt. Lion and another snorkeling area around the corner. We went back for those adventures later in the week.

I mentioned that I counted the steps when we tramped Peach Cove. Now, I seem to count the steps no matter where we are. It helps keep me sane on the never-ending ascents, and it’s a good way to compare the tramps to each other. Well, I’ve gotta say, “Step aside Mt. Aubrey (480ish) and Peach Cove (850ish)! Mt. Lion has got you all beat. The name is accurate; it’s a beast.”

An insanely steep climb equal to that of Aubrey got us here…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

…one we surpassed the Peach Cove climb by over 300 steps and 30 minutes of climbing, we reached the summit.

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

After that crazy climb, I was expecting the most spectacular view of the trip! Not so much. There was just one small break in the trees that offered a glimpse of Ocean Beach. Mt. Manaia has better Ocean Beach views! For that reason and, oh, 1170 more, I have no plans to make the journey again.

After the tramp, we made one more trip to Urquharts Bay for Ben to check out the other snorkeling area. The snorkeling wasn’t that great, so there’s not much to say there. It’s what we experienced on the way to the snorkeling spot that’s worth mentioning.

We were back on this beach…

Whangarei Heads, New Zealand

…and we wanted to walk to the far right and around the rocks. As we approached the beach, we saw a man casually strolling along the shore. As we got closer, one thing was clear: The man was completely naked. Okay, okay, don’t freak out, Tara. It’s a public place, and he knows what he’s doing. Ben and I wanted to give him as much privacy as possible – for our sake and his. No eye contact. We weren’t upon him yet, but his stroll was taking him to the far right side of the beach – exactly where we were headed. Fortunately, he found a spot far from the ocean to sun bathe. Ben and I decided the most respectful approach would be to walk ankle-deep in the water, which was as far away as we could possibly walk. We were talking to each other, focusing on the water, and keeping our eyes down. We walked past his sun bathing spot and continued on. Relief washed over me, but I kept my head down. When I assumed we were safely past his spot, I lifted my head. And guess what? Nudey man stepped in front of us…no more than ten feet away…on his way to the water! While we were busy giving him privacy, he walked at least 50 feet out of his way (at a brisk pace nonetheless) just to intersect our path. I looked back at his sun bathing spot to confirm. HE DELIBERATELY WALKED OUT OF HIS WAY. I didn’t know whether to laugh at him, cry for him, or punch him in the face. Dumbfounded, we kept walking. As we were turning the corner, I ventured to look back one more time. And there he was standing with his hands on his hips, privates blowing in the breeze, staring us down.

There are crazies everywhere.

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