The wind blew shrill and smart,
And the wind awoke my heart
Again to go a-sailing o’er the sea,
To hear the cordage moan
And the straining timbers groan,
And to see the flying pennon lie a-lee.


 Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894

Whatuwhiwhi Beach

In 1997 our family headed to the beach for the summer, to a place on the Karikari Peninsula called Whatuwhiwhi—pronounced Fatufeefee—not the way you may have been thinking.

Our ridge-top rental possessed views of the sea in two directions. To the east—the long slow arc of Tokerau Beach and the sweeping curve of Doubtless Bay. Legend has it that when Captain James Cook arrived here on the Endeavour in 1770 he said: “This is doubtless a bay.” Hence its present name.

Puheke Hill

To the west, across knobbly, grass-covered dunes, lay a series of reed fringed, sapphire-blue, finger-shaped lakes—haven to heron and gull, and glimpses of the white sand of Rangiputa Beach. The rounded, pyramidal volcanic dome of Puheke stood guard over the west coast of the peninsula, north of the entrance to Rangaunu Harbour.

Our home for the summer was a two storey Kiwi bach, a functional, if not fancy, house designed for visits in the summer and on weekends throughout the year when the weather was favourable. The absentee owners maintained the basic garden of rough lawn and a few hardy evergreens that withstood the incessant winds of the hilltop.

The vista was superb, like a prince; the garden drab and colourless, a pauper in comparison. We loved that summer, swimming and walking every day. The girls would play on a makeshift swing suspended from a large, Pohutukawa—New Zealand’s red-flowering Christmas tree—overhanging the beach. We ate our evening meals on the windy deck on the north side of the bach, struggling to keep kelp powder in the salad rather than on our clothes. The sky would colour majestically as the day waned.

By autumn we knew we had to move on. The wind grew increasingly chilly, and found refuge inside our dwelling, like an unwanted guest. The house had no insulation or woodstove. It was not really an all-season home.

By the time we took refuge in what was to be our sanctuary for four years in nearby Peria Valley, I was craving a garden with colour. It was during that summer by the beach that I discovered the importance of flowers in one’s life. Their absence made my heart fondly long for them.

It is acknowledged in today’s technology-dominated world that many people are not getting as much green time as they need for optimum health. One beautiful summer by the beach in Whatuwhiwhi showed me that green is not enough. A full spectrum of coloured flowers feeds my soul. Do you have enough colour in your life?


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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