'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Matata - Pikowai Coast road

Leaving Whakatane coming towards Tauranga there's yet another roundabout. We like roundabouts in New Zealand. (We even have roundabouts with traffic lights, just to confuse you!*)

Matata (Matta-tar to the locals) is a sleepy seaside town with an interesting area of lagoon wetland running between the main road and the beach. Once you've passed through Matata you're on one of the loveliest stretches of coastal road in New Zealand. On your left is a series of steep wave-eroded cliffs held together tenuously by the roots of massive pohutukawa trees. As I've mentioned, these trees are breath-takingly beautiful around Christmas when they are smothered with masses of crimson blooms.
On your right is the sea, although mostly just glimpsed from time to time.

Unfortunately this length of road is prone to slips in winter, and can be down to one lane or even impassable for hours, sometimes days, as crews work to clear away the debris.

About half way between Pikowai (Pick-o-why) and Pukehina (Pook-eh-hee-nar) the road leaves the coast briefly, and curls inland to cross the Waitahanui (Why-tar-har-noo-ee) Stream. There's a picnic area at the top when it touches the coast again, and that's your last view of the sea for a while.

* More about these another time.


  1. I had no idea when they sang "Akuna Matata" in The Lion King that they were referring to a town in New Zealand!

  2. Ha ha. An interesting thought Robert, which prompted me to look up the phrase. Apparently 'hakuna matata' means 'don't worry' (or some-such) in Swahili. The scary thing is, possums, that that phrase is very close to 'no worries, mate', which is a common New Zealand expression. Spooky.
    Perhaps there is a connection, as you suggest.

  3. When we go to The Nationals in a weeks or so I'll be travelling this road. It's not one I've driven along before. I'm looking forward to it (afetr all I can't look backwards to something in the future, can I?). I just hope that the weather is better than it is here today!

  4. I think the car/photo ratio has fallen further. Where is everybody? Plague? Nuclear Attack? Actually, I guess they must all be backpacking round Europe or more likely stalking unsuspecting sheep in the hills. New NZ Tourism slogan - "Come to New Zealand - There's Nobody Here!"

  5. YP. The population of New Zealand is about 4.4 million.
    So, take a country about the area of the UK, remove all the population except for the equivalent to that of Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Liverpool and Edinburgh, ie UK's 7 largest cities not counting London, and that might give you an idea of NZ's population density.

  6. Geeb. Now, why did I think the Nationals were in Katikati? Or are you playing in Whakatane again too?

  7. I'd switched the computer off last night and was on my way to bed. I do that occasionally. It means that I have the wonderful experience of getting up in the morning to face the, er, constant heavy rain! Anyway, as I was saying, I was just getting into bed when I thought "You prat Edwards. That's the wrong side of Tauranga." I will, indeed, be playing in Katikati. Silly me.

  8. Hmmm. Prat. Not a word one hears much in NZ. Your UK time is showing. Anyway, I'd rather call you 'forgetful because sleepy'.

  9. Population density? I thought you had schools!

  10. Your last photo of landscapes features a bird and a fence post. Pretty big bird! However, the remarkable bit is the fence post... it's square. That's one of the first things I discovered on my first trip to NZ. Even brought back two vases made out of a sections of fence posts. In Texas, our fence posts are round and usually made out of cedar. The posts will be the trunks or large straight limbs just cut to length and placed in the hole.

  11. Judy - yep, the old square fence posts, and the smaller square battens are a country-wide feature of NZ. Useful around the garden too. But the most coveted are the old railway sleepers, if you can get hold of them. They make great edgings and steps.


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