From Whangarei I drove north to Matauri Bay, home to an extremely picturesque primary school, and the best views from a principal's office in the country, and possibly the world. It's also the resting place of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior; after being blown up in Auckland by the French in 1995, the ship was laid to rest off Matauri Bay, which is a fitting resting place for a ship dedicated to saving the planet. The interview with the school principal went very well, and I had the honour of having a full haka performed for me by the school children; a haka is what the All Blacks perform before playing rugby, and the version I witnessed went on for about five minutes. Hakas are performed for honoured guests and very important people, and it gave me quite a buzz to see this classroom of Maori kids getting really into it. Soon after I was back on the road, with the sun still shining, and I drove to the small town of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands and pitched camp, ready to visit the local Acorn dealer in the morning.
That was where I saw the advert. The woman from the caravan park waved it in front of my face like a page from Paradise Lost, and moaned about how nice it would be to take a year off and go travelling, and how hot it was, and it was probably a dirty old man anyway looking for some young girls, and that'll be NZ$8 for the campsite please. I went back later and had a look at the advert, and there it was: a good idea. 'Boat looking for crew to cruise to Tahiti, and then around the Pacific islands for a year. Only NZ$15 a day, including food. Ring Rob...' So I did. The next day I went to Paihia to see the boat and meet Rob, and he said he would make a decision in a few weeks, and I should keep in touch. And that was that... for the moment anyway.
Meanwhile, I had more exploring to do, and by late afternoon I had driven up the tip of Northland, heading for Cape Reinga, the northernmost part of the North Island. Just in case I thought I was going to get away with visiting one of New Zealand's extremities in fine weather, it started to chuck it down, and when I got to the campsite, I pitched the tent and sat in the car, typing up my articles while the rain pounded down.
I sometimes wonder why I bother to go to places when it's raining. The next day the fog had come to join the party, and when I drove the 3km to the cape itself, I couldn't see the famed meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, I couldn't see the lighthouse until I bumped into it, and the signpost that declared how far London, Tokyo, Bluff and all the other metropolises of the world were from Cape Reinga, simply pointed into grey mist. But I can now say that I've been to the north of the North Island and the south of the South Island, and that's why I do these things. The map on which I've been drawing my route in thick black felt tip wouldn't be complete without a trip to the tip, so drenched as I was, I still felt pretty pleased with myself.