It’s our final day at sea. And I’m grateful for it. The sky is still relatively clear but the open ocean foretells a squall about to make windfall.

In which we return to Army Bay and finally photograph parrots while tramping the Moturua Island Track in the Moturua Island Scenic Reserve.
View of Motukiekie Island from Moturua Island

We woke up well rested and decided to make one last bid for musseling along the Moturua coast. However, large swells and strong breakers along the rocks of mussels quickly lead us to think better of the endeavor. Instead, we bring our friends to hike one of the more scenic portions of Moturua Island track that we had completed the day before. We have one main goal: parrots. This time, we are not disappointed. We take up position behind some shrubs with a clear view of a lush valley and wait. It only takes ten minutes for this to happen:

Eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius)

Eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius)
Eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius)

Granted, our travel companions bail on the hike half way through. We agree that they will bring the ship around and meet us in the neighboring bay where they too, hopefully, could see parrots.

Parrots, however, are far from their mind when we hear their hail and come down the the dingy on the beach. The seas have turned. No more messing about around islands, the ocean had been stirred up by the oncoming storm. It was time to find safe harbor.

Mangahawea Bay, Moturua Island

First, we have to get back into Kororāreka Bay. While we take the longer way, winding around Motuarohia Island, we still have to cross a portion of open ocean. The first few swells are not that bad. I admit that the seas are not as calm as we have been lulled into expecting. It isn’t until one swell nearly knocks me off my feet as we descend into its trough that I widen my stance and turn into the oncoming swells. No, we will not be taking a direct route. We take a “V” instead, traveling headlong into the swells, toward open ocean and then turning our back to them, to persistently wallow our way to calmer waters.

Unexpected Events In Russel Harbor

Once we are around Tapeka point, I can breath again. We anchor in Russel Harbor for lunch, a breather, and maybe a little more wine. Overwhelmed from our rocky treatment by the sea, we might have been a little hasty in abandoning our dingy on the beach. Certainly, we pull it out of the water. Yet, after a lunch of fish and chips and picking up a few last provisions for the night, we return to find the beach empty and our dingy merrily floating out to sea.

I am not the hero of the tale. I was not the one who shed bag, coat, and electronics with a reckless frenzy as she plunges into the water and swims for the lonely dingy. I arrive after the fact, as our heroic traveling companion shudders in Cowboy’s coat, next to the dingy, having swam an impromptu race and won.

Lucky for her, our late return to the wandering conveyance is due to the extra time spent hunting down some Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc for our heroic white wine fan.

That night, our last night in New Zealand, the wine flows freely. We return the ship to its original berth in Opua—at least moderately protected from the storm’s rising swells. There, we invite Kim, the ship’s owner, to join us on board for drinks and some bread. He regales us with tales of hurricanes, circumnavigating the globe, and a life spent in such a beautiful country.

That night, we went to bed to the gentle rocking of the boat.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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