This morning, I ran alongside the low tide exposed shoreline of the estuary heading to the Surf Beach I explored yesterday. Down the sandy shore and back along the front of the cliffside homes was a good enough route for my exhausted muscles from the 15 plus miles of walking the day prior. I felt that this wasn’t enough movement for me yet and I wanted to get a taste of the local flair so I headed down to the Saturday morning market after a nice shower and reset. The walk was naturally longer than I had planned, but it took me into a great boardwalk area along the tidal wetlands leading into the Village. Eventually I had arrived and wow – what a scene! I was treated to samples of local honey, cheeses, pates, olive oils, and even a “Mexican hot sauce” booth. To go with the theme of New Zealand, everything was clearly made with love and respect to the ingredients and the land which produced them. I found that everyone really enjoyed being a part of the community and wanted to engage with each other. Other highlights of the Saturday Market included the couple playing with wooden string toys called Kendama and the Kendama Pill (see this dude make it look all too easy!) and the musical entertainment acoustic duo named the G Strings (damn, they could seemingly play anything).
After my first hitchhiking experience (Ryan said its not only the safe, but an encouraged method of travel – another awesome part of New Zealand) back to the Heads, I enjoyed the rest of the day with an extraordinarily amazing walk on the beach. It was long and pure and quiet and peaceful and bliss. There is something about putting your bare feet on wet sand and allow the waves to softly crash into you. It recharged my batteries and allowed my brain to process thoughts as passing ideas without having to act on them. When is the last time you didn’t have to do ANYTHING except breathe, observe and sit? I highly recommend taking some time out of your busy life to do just this. You will be happier after you have.
Ryan told me that one of his co-workers, Alec had the day off and was looking to play golf the next morning. So, we organized to play the local track, Mangawhai Golf Club. I had walked past the club the day before and met with the woman in the pro shop. After introducing myself, she was happy to invite me to play during my stay, and I just didn’t know it would be the very next day. Luckily, she was there to greet us in the morning and take care of us and show us on our way. A beautiful walk, Mangawhai featured some great rolling turf and interesting bunkers. A couple memorable holes – one a longish par 4 with a green cut into a hillside with a natural faced bleed out bunker protecting the right and back of the triple tiered green. With many of the greens elevated, you had to place your approach the correct distance or risk an unlucky bounce from the unfriendly slopes. After our match was over (Alec used his play every day experience to dismantle my “rusty” excuses), I decided to try a few shots I might not normally. The best came on the 17th hole? where I hit a 2 iron to the turn of the dogleg to be left with an uphill second to a green that sat 160-175 yards on top of the hill. I took that same 2 iron and played a LONG “bump and run” shot that skirted up the slope and continued to the middle tier of the green just 6 feet short of the hole! All in all, the course was a real treat with incredible ground movement and a FUN shot quality all over (especially the back 9).