It was Emma’s birthday late last month. We both love exploring. Whether it is in our city, or a plane ride away. Really the location doesn’t matter. It is the act of discovering that gives us both immense joy. So, for Emma’s birthday we went for a day out to Kãwhia, a small sea-side town of only 650 people on the North Island’s wild west coast.

I’ve never had a good nosy around Kãwhia. The only other time I had been there was during Stephen Cox’s 5-day women’s tour. We rode out and back in one day, two stages. I was fighting Elizabeth Campbell for the lantern rouge. On this day we took the car. It was Emma’s birthday after all.

The township is very cute and has some historic buildings such as the harbour, water-side intact, museum. “Perhaps the most precarious location for a museum,” Emma said. We trotted around the town and waters edge, dodging the rain drops and then settled into a restaurant, come lounge room, come fish and chip shop for lunch. It was so incredibly cosy with pictures of the owners granddaughters netball team, a book shelf with old paper backs, and the Rugby playing in the background. We had an extremely expensive lunch, at $13 for two, before heading out to roam the streets and see what else we could find. We went out to the beach and saw why no swimming was allowed with rip tides and swells bigger than houses, and found abandoned camper vans with the most beautiful view of the Harbour. We were tempted to jump the fence to have a nosy inside of them, but our curiosity was less than the unnerving feeling that someone might actually be living in them.

We found one of the many Marae’s in the area and just down the road a woman was on a horse with a young child and bouncing her Poi, entertaining the child. The family across the road said hello, probably wondering what the hell we were doing there. In Mãori legend the waka Tainui was buried at Kãwhia, behind the sea side Marae, at Ahurei.

We stopped by the old cemetery heading out of town. We both have a fascination with cemetery’s and actively seek them out. Every time they remind me not to waste a day. Do what you love, now, don’t wait. In this one, someone had quite recently bought a plot and buried their dog, with a wee statue of the dog, and flowers.  Cemetery’s can tell you a lot about a town.


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