Monday, 17 April 2017

Lagoon excursion, snorkeling, swimming, relaxing

ALLIE: DAY 63: Tuesday, 17th of April

Around the lagoon by boat, snorkeling and swimming

the lagoon
Sleeping in until late. Breakfast out in front of our bungalow, how could life be better? At 10.00 we board a small boat together with a very mixed group of other hotel guests.

There is a hippie American lady from San Francisco who carries a huge umbrella with her and wraps herself completely into some bed sheets to protect her from the sun.

Then there is a young couple from Australia, he full with wild looking tattoos and she wearing a dolly dress and oversized sunglasses.

The others are two elderly ladies from New Zealand and the friend of that American woman. So we set out and cross the whole 15km long lagoon. The waters are incredibly blue.
out boat guide

At the far end of the lagoon we stop for snorkeling. This is magic. The sea here is full with giant clams, some of them way at least 200 kg.

We are told that they are not very good for eating and therefore exported to the States for display in Underwater Worlds or Aquariums. There are also abundant fish of all kinds and colours. The water is crystal clear and swimming amongst all these fish is really wonderful.

We stop at the small island of Moturakau (Motu meaning ‘island’ in Maori language). This island has been used for filming ‘Survivors’ and ‘Shipwreck’, a series of adventure reality TV shows.

Nothing is left of these survivors and it must have been tough trying to survive on this tiny, hot island with no drinking water or anything else.
5mins across the waters and we land on Tekapua, another paradise island. Here our two boys grill some blue tuna for us and spread out a delicious lunch with salad and fruit. It’s only a hop across a small channel of water and we are on the famous ‘one-foot-island’ (Tapuaetai).

Why famous? Because this island has a post office where you can stamp your passport and send of post cards! So of course we come well prepared and do exactly that.
enjoying the island

I wouldn’t want to live out here, but it’s indeed a bit of paradise. War in Iraq, crime in cities and mobile phone stress are probably unknown words here.

Tired but very satisfied we return home via the landing site of the four-engined Solent flying boat which few the ‘Coral Route’ (Auckland to Tahiti via Suva and Apia) in the early 50is.

lunch is ready
Dinner again at the Boat Shed because the other restaurant has a ‘Polynesian night’ with barbeque and a dance show.

We rather enjoy the quietness and a good bottle of Chardonnay.

PHIL: Day 63/17 April

A day on Aitutaki Lagoon with half-a-dozen other tourists staying at our cottages. They are a mixed bunch of Kiwis and Americans and I divine one of the latter as a Hippie manqué from San Francisco as a result of her copious body hair and colourful pareo. She carries a beach umbrella everywhere to protect her from UV rays.

It turns out my guess was right and that, like me, she adores the ‘city on the bay’.  The cottage-owner’s son, a half-Polynesian in his early twenties, takes us first to a couple of snorkelling spots on the western reef margins. 

a real Robinson Crusoe feeling
Giant clams are everywhere, some of them nearly a metre across. Apparently they are not edible (even by the Japanese) but are exported live to stock aquaria in the USA

The boat crew bring one to the surface for us to inspect and it promptly squirts a large gout of water at Allie in some kind of defence. Pearl oysters also hang between the nearby coral heads on lines like washing.

It is noticeable that, whilst the fish here are at least as varied as those in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef the corals are much less colourful. There is a suggestion that this is a result of global warming but we are rather sceptical about this convenient and politically correct interpretation.

not too comfortable for a long time..
We land on a couple of uninhabited motus (islands) one of which has recently been the setting for the American reality TV series and a British programme in similar vein called ‘Shipwrecked’. 

Allie & I agree that whilst a day or so in such deprived isolation might be alright, the three months it took to shoot the material would be insufferable. We are lucky and have yellow-fin tuna served from a wood fire with papaya salad and bananas from the trees.

A Post Office claiming to be the world’s smallest awaits gullible visitors (including us) on One Foot Island. We have our passports stamped (for a fee) and send postcards to our loved ones with the unique cancellation on their stamps. 

Our return route up the 15km-long lagoon passes close to the bay where TEAL (Tasman Empire Airlines) once refuelled their flying-boats and passengers on the ‘Coral Route’ to Tahiti whose successor was terminated (for reasons of economy) only two weeks ago and resulted in our forthcoming zig-zag back to Auckland en route to Papeete.

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