When I find something so wonderful in New Zealand it seems only fair to share it with you. I don’t own rights to tranquility, so I thought that you too should be informed about where to find ultimate peace here in this fabulous country. DISCLAIMER: This may be a ploy to get my friends over to New Zealand.
Set amongst hectares of bushland on the edge of the Keri Keri river is a tiny retreat called Pagoda Lodge. It is the perfect hideaway for a JAFA such as myself (an endearing term for Just Another F**cking Aucklander – FYI my non-kiwi readers), and for my adventurous friends who absoluttely need a taste of New Zealand and have the luxury of one’s hospitality to make it even easier for you.
Good to know: It’s a mere 3.5 hour drive from Auckland for someone who doesn’t have lactose problems, and a slightly more challenging 4.5 hours for someone who does, but if I didn’t have lactose problems the question is would we stop and have opportunities like this? No. Poo problems create opportunity.
Upon arrival, if you’re not bumping into a hipster from France or Germany you might, hilariously, come across someone distinctively from Auckland, not fitting in, waltzing about the place with a Ted Baker handbag, a face creamed with makeup, 3 bottles of Sav and a litre of gin on route to the decked out BBQ area… It’s ok not to fit in here, though, because there are no judgements at this little haven…dancing naked or umming and aahhing should you wish amongst the hydraengas is probably encouraged.
With offerings of sounds similar to those heard rustling around in Jurassic Park and options of safari tents, gypsy caravans (with outdoor baths), a boat house, a bus, or a tree house to stay in, you will be tranquillised into sleep heaven. As long as you don’t mind waking up to what really did, I can but imagine, sound like a pterodactyl landing on the safari tent roof, which when reality struck me I realised was probably a pine cone falling from one of the hundreds of massive trees engulfing the tent.
The toilets and showers are pristine and being an absolute conformist I love that everyone respects the camp rules with the exception of one rule that is not on the wall, but needs to be – “Don’t eat other peoples bacon from the communal fridge that they’ve saved and thought about in their dreams all night. This is not communal bacon get your own”. But you know, I am a nice person and didn’t mind some communal person eating my bacon. LIES. I did mind. I am sure this is typical JAFA behaviour on my behalf, because the travellers probably share their bacon. I would have shared my bacon, but it seems all of my bacon was required. I like bacon.
When you’re out and about exploring this region, you should catch the old, blue wooden boat from Paihia to Russell. Russell is the first town us Pākehā colonised for their whaling and prostitute expeditions. You can learn a lot about the Missionaries and how they came to Keri Keri in the 19th Century expecting the Maori tribes to give up their land and share it. Only to build enormous, overpowering stone houses anyway, and, as our often embarrassing British history can be, try and get others to live how they thought they would be better off living.
One of the Missionary houses has been opened up as a cafe, serving their own roasted coffee on a veranda decorated with the most colourful of flowers and a view out to sea that I often only dream of. The staff are wonderfully friendly with a slow rural New Zealand attitude, which I love; nothings too much trouble.
I would actually be happy sitting either here all day, or on the boat going backwards and forwards every 20 minutes for just $12 per return. For $60 you could, if they let you, have 80 minutes of fun in the sun on a rickety wooden boat. When the waters are as blue as this and the skipper is a living legend having been a staple of the tourist’s ferry experience for many years why not is the question we should be asking ourselves. Especially when it’s something similar to $200 per person on a ‘real’ boat trip from exactly the same port.
So, anyone want to come and visit me in New Zealand? I will take you here? Friends only, though. If I don’t know you, that might just be weird.