Paua Play. (Kaka Point, New Zealand)

The South Island of Enzed in summer is SOMETHING ELSE. If you happen to be visiting there in January you might be lying on a beach saying to yourself “This is amazeballs! So sunny and clear, and the scenery’s stunning! It’s really something else!”or you might be in all-weather gear and thermal underwear muttering “What the Hell IS this? Why is the sky so low? Why did that sheep go flying past the window? Why can’t I even see the beach? Surely this isn’t summer, it’s… something else!” Which scenario you get seems to be purely a matter of chance. Take our previous summer beach trip to Colac Bay for example, January 2013…

When we rehung the sodden towels the next morning hail fell out. You'd think it was a recipe for disaster, 13 people including 7 kids holed up in a Southern storm for a couple of days, but we had some great times. Of course, the kids did have a bit of surplus energy to burn off, and discovered parkour. Apparently all you need is a 4x4 metre floor space and a couple of beanbags.
When we rehung the sodden towels the next morning hail fell out. You’d think it was a recipe for disaster, 13 people including 7 kids holed up in a Southern storm for a couple of days, but we had some great times. Of course, the kids did have a bit of surplus energy to burn off, and discovered parkour. Apparently all you need is a 4×4 metre floor space and a couple of beanbags.

02 kiddie parkour

There were midsummer gale force winds, rain and hail and daily temperatures hovering around 10C. Despite this it turned out to be the BEST family holiday we’d ever had.

Whether the weather played nice or not it was still amazeballs. We certainly treasured our outside time when we got it!
Whether the weather played nice or not it was still amazeballs. We certainly treasured our outside time when we got it!

January 2015 we visited Kaka Point in The Catlins – apparently 0.02 degrees latitude even further south than Colac Bay, but we scored the simply amazeballs weather – we enjoyed 28C on the same day the Gold Coast had 200mm of rain! (Yep, in a day.) It’s gorgeous, and a favourite place of many New Zealanders, including fur seals, Hooker’s sea lions, yellow eyed penguins, and J. He used to have school camps here.

Where we stayed. This sign sums up the chilled vibe perfectly; "If no one's here to check you in, just make yourself at home, we'll sort out the money tomorrow because we trust you. Oh, and SORRY NO DOGS. ...Unless you called us and asked first, in which case dogs are fine. Welcome!"
Where we stayed. This sign sums up the chilled vibe perfectly; “If no one’s here to check you in, just make yourself at home, we’ll sort out the money tomorrow because we trust you. Oh, and SORRY NO DOGS. …Unless you called us and asked first, in which case dogs are fine. Welcome!”

Day 1. After unpacking, and scrubbing car spew (yeah remember that?) it was beach time!

Experimenting with different styles of parenting. I believe this one's 'Turtle Style' which I mentioned in my last post, ie  dig a hole in the beach and leave your kid in it. They seem to like it and at least they stay where you left them.
Experimenting with different styles of parenting. I believe this one’s ‘Turtle Style’ which I mentioned in my last post, ie dig a hole in the beach and leave your kid in it. They seem to like it and at least they stay where you left them.

Finn borrowed a wettie and was soon out boogieboarding with Macy. It’s hard to believe when I first met teenager Macy she was the age Rory is now. I feel old…

Finn did get cold but refused to come out until he'd gone blue.
Finn did get cold but refused to come out until he’d gone blue.

Had a gorgeous BBQ tea on the grass and were still playing cricket at 9pm.

Even at the height of summer we still had loads of tent space to play in. LTW and CodeName:The Big Girl facing up to Finny's famous yorkers.
Even at the height of summer we still had loads of tent space to play in. LTW and CodeName:The Big Girl facing up to Finny’s famous yorkers.

After sundown (at 10pm!) it got quite cold but we sat around for a while longer talking. The stars came out and they were glorious. I spotted two satellites, a meteorite, and hopefully a UFO.

Day 2. Finny didn’t swim much today, preferring to play more cricket with a random family on the beach. Roars was also otherwise occupied, so when Kerry (sister-in-law’s hubby) headed to a rocky section up the beach to hunt for paua (abalone) I tagged along. While white abalone is found throughout the world, the blackfoot paua is unique to New Zealand – if you’ve travelled here you probably have some kind of jewellery or souvenir made from its gorgeous blue and green iridescent shell.

I prefer my necklaces slightly less bulky though...
I prefer my necklaces slightly less bulky…

I borrowed a short wettie which was extremely snug… when I’d finally finished wrestling it on I felt like a breakfast sausage wrapped in a tourniquet. Had some serious muffin top leg going on but I-got-that-damn-zip-to-the-top. I had to wade out through kelp (not the Little Shop of Horrors kind this time) in the shallows between the rocks and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It felt like super slippery, tough, leather board, with holes like Swiss cheese. It might’ve been my imagination but it was also warm to the touch.swimming through kelp

When it got deep enough I jumped in and flew through the kelp beds, riding the surge. Rather less than gracefully however, I could barely see where I was going or steer, as I hadn’t brought my goggles and flippers. Next time!

Cruising the kelp beds...
Cruising the kelp beds…

Finding paua means knowing the good places to look, as well as having the eyesight of an underwater eagle… I haven’t a clue how Kerry managed to find this guy in all the swirling kelp and sand, as well as the bubbles from my ungainly thrashing.

Aww look at him. Isn't he delicious?
Aww look at him. Isn’t he delicious?

Removal technique involves lulling the paua into a false sense of security, because they need to be relaxed in order for you to prise them off their rock. A specialised, blunt paua knife is useful for this, as is a great deal of practise; if you fail the first time, they clamp on hard. The limit is 10 paua per person per day, with very strict sizing guidelines. Kerry fastidiously checked the size of each paua against the ruler on his knife; if fisheries management catch you with undersized paua – even by only a millimetre or two – they will stomp your guts out. You could get huge fines and lose your car, and your boat if you’ve got one. They are also strict about people only collecting using snorkel, or freediving. Paua live in water one to 15 metres deep, so banning SCUBA helps protect them.

When they suck onto your hand with their muscular ‘foot’, it makes it easy to carry a few at a time, though they’re surprisingly heavy! They’re strong and have a very firm, meaty handshake; the first time I felt one grip on I pulled it straight off, worrying he wouldn’t want to let go and I’d be stuck with an abalone for a hand.

It's EATIN' TIME!
It’s EATIN’ TIME!

Back at camp, Kerry sliced them thinly (the thinner the better) and fried them quickly in butter and garlic. The taste wasn’t as strong as mussels or oysters, it was very delicate, and had a nice firm but not tough texture. OMG SO GOOOOOD; I ate heaps. Didn’t get any photos because I was too busy stuffing my face, but they looked a lot like slices of fried mushroom.

LTW: Floo powder? What the hell’s floo powder?
LTW: Floo powder? What the hell’s floo powder?

Storytime was farmed out to LTW and Lucy this evening, and as usual when there’s ring-ins, the boys managed to cheat their way to an extra 10 minutes. Classic delay tactics… I wish I could do the same; we’re headed back to Dunedin in the morning.

– Michelle

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