There’s something rather glum about returning home only a few hours after setting off on a much looked forward to road trip.
Our house, much as I love it, seemed empty and oddly tidy. If it had a character I’d say it was looking forward to some time on it’s own, without us, as much as we’d been looking forward to the break.
But what to do? A whole week off work and no car.
Go back to work? That idea got next to no air time!! I might be self-employed, my own boss, as they say, but getting away takes weeks of advance planning. I wasn’t going to give up easily.
Have a holiday at home? That idea got slightly more air play, ugly suggestion that it was.
What about a rental car? I’m not entirely sure who first mooted this but I’ll say it was me. (John has read this and claims it was him!) Whatever! I will say, apart from the decision to call a towie at Lake Tutira and that was me, this was the very best idea of the day.
A rental wasn’t quite as easy to sort out as we expected. It took more than 24hours for the booking to be confirmed, which might have something to do with us being rental car novices. Or, everyone, including the car hire staff, were taking advantage of the holiday weekend.
Come Monday we were on the road again. To Gisborne and Makorori Beach.
There was talk of a bad storm. Relentless rain. High winds. We wondered what we were driving in to. But the gods were with us this time and the worst of the weather skirted around our part of the country. And this time there was no stopping at Lake Tutira, not even for a cuppa. It was another two hours before we pulled over, a mandatory stop, but not the mechanical, or worse, accidental sort. With a view like this and the promise of clearing weather we had to appreciate our good luck.
Makorori Beach is ten minutes north of Gisborne. It’s sandy, sheltered and, for me, the stuff of childhood memories.
All those years ago, my sister and I made sandcastles here, I got a bad sunburn, our parents laughed and relaxed and had time to play with us. Here the waves were mostly gentle but seemed to roar at night, and we swam and then swam some more.
And this was where, on the last day of a long summer holiday, the sun disappeared behind clouds, the burning sand turned cold, the wind went to the south and whipped sand and tumbleweed into our legs. It was a blessing in disguise. Getting in the car to begin the long drive home over roads guaranteed to make one or other of us kids throw up, was that little bit easier.
I have never been back. Not to stay. So this part of our road trip was a trip down memory lane, too.
Although Makorori is more built up than I remember and some of the holiday homes are grand the basics haven’t changed. The beach is the same. Sandy and vast. The cliffs still tower above the reef.
The Pacific rolls in relentlessly. And the surfies still take advantage of the waves – even mid-week, even or perhaps especially in a southerly.
In my memory there was never anyone on the beach except us.
This time we saw two groups of surfies at our end of the beach, one dog and its owner, and one horse and its rider. Perhaps it’s busier in the summer. Our landlord, we’d hired a beach bach, told us that during the season the place is busy with people fishing and surfing and looking for shell fish. Apparently the crayfish are plentiful in season.
Paddling about in my bare feet on the reef confirmed what I suspected – the water was straight from Antartica. My togs stayed in my luggage.
By the end of our first day Makorori was once again my favourite beach of all time.