It's little wonder that settlers from Cornwall, Scotland and Ireland felt so at home in New Zealand. With her rugged, meandering coastlines which are often enshrouded in thick blankets of rain sodden cloud; the similarities to their homelands are easy to see.
The fair weather that had kindly swept us to these pleasant isles, had been pushed aside by the more boisterous weather that we'd feared might welcome us. Fortunately we were tucked away in relative shelter by then. With more gales forecast for Sunday and the next few days, we thought it might be time to hide further.
The temptation was to explore up a narrow estuary; as I would in Cornwall. Tucking our boat safely away in some sheltered pool far up river. The tide cutting off access as it drains away, with Impetuous safe from the ravages of the wind.
The image of the weathered sailor waking in the small dark hours of morning to catch the tide is often used but seldom the reality. After a peaceful lie in with our books and several cups of tea, followed by a leisurely breakfast and then coffee; we were ready to wind slowly up the Keri Keri river with the last of the rising tide.
Despite several shallow patches, we were pleasantly surprised at how effortlessly we were able to creep up the estuary without ploughing our keel into the soft mud, always carrying a healthy margin of 50 cm under us.
The river wound its way beyond many twist and turns, passing rolling hills drenched in leaden cloud. Upon each turn the wind that had swept us up lessened as we found our intended shelter. Then at one juncture it left us altogether. We started the engine; which we now refer to as the shoe dryer as we have resorted to drying our shoes upon its hot carcass after any use.
Eventually we arrived at the estuaries head; 'Standing Stones' where the river is no longer navigable. This is the site of the oldest stone store in the country. It was built by early traders to store grain and then used as a trading post when they found Northland too wet to grow grain. An impressively solid building, which somewhat dwarfs the white washed timber house located next door; the oldest building in New Zealand.
We walked up from the stone store in that hybrid of precipitation; mizzle. Thicker than mist but thinner than drizzle, mizzle has that unique quality that somehow soaks your clothes from the inside out. It was not to last. As the mizzle gave way to drizzle we lingered in the shops that had the heating on. As we trudged wearily back to the boat at the end of our day, the drizzle turned to rain.
How quickly things change; it was merely a couple of weeks ago that I relished an icy cold beer as it trickled down my throat. Now we've taken to placing our wine in a saucepan of hot water to get it to what; without fire, we dream of being room temperature. The idea of cold beer now just makes us shiver. Still I'm sure it will be summer soon.