Monday, March 15, 2010

Omaha Beach

Sunday, December 6, 2009. There's wasn't much to do today, so Steffan and I decided to take a drive around again. After studying Google Maps, we decided that we could head over to Omaha Beach, as it was a place we haven't visited yet, and it looked like a nice stretch of sand from the satellite images.

It was quite a pleasant drive up. Driving up the Northern Motorway, Highway 1, we passed Orewa, and after just under an hour from when we left, we arrived in Warkworth. A town of just over 3,000, it was quite a pleasant place. It had a small town centre away from the highway so that it was very pedestrian-friendly and calm. There were a few stores open and some people walking around. We decided it would be a good idea to grab lunch here. We ate at a nice little café, and as typical New Zealand cafés go, there was a counter displaying all of the delicious-looking foods they were serving. The food was quite tasty, even better than the usual tasty fare from a New Zealand café. The only complaint I have is that one of the ceiling fans was directly in front of a skylight, so that there was a pulsing light effect inside, which made it quite uncomfortable if you start noticing it.

After lunch, we carried on. Travelling down tiny country roads, we crossed a large lagoon over a long causeway. Omaha Beach is located on a thin crescent of land stretching from north to south, with a lagoon to its west and the ocean to its east. Only the southern tip of this piece of land is connected to the New Zealand mainland. As we approached the other side, we drove through a small forest grove and then through the village to a parking area just by the beach. After a short walk over the board-walk through some grass-covered dunes, we arrived at the beach. It was quite pretty here. Omaha Beach is four wide kilometres of fine glittering white sand. Straight ahead beyond the breaking waves and the blue water lie the prominent hills of Little Barrier Island, which looked especially pretty with the puffy white clouds it tends to collect around its peaks.

After a trip back to the car to get some swim trunks and sunscreen, we stayed on the beach for a while. I had a quick dip in the waves and walked around collecting shells from the smooth wet sand near the breaking water, which reflecting the blue of the sky and the puffy clouds like a mirror. There were also many sand dollars here on the beach - some were very small, but some were nearly as large as the palm of my hand! I picked up some of these live sand dollars to examine them, but not wanting to kill them, placed all of them back in the water. Eventually, we were joined by Leon, an art tutor in the Games Department and his girlfriend, Adi, who is a student at MDS. It just happened to work out that Adi is now in the class that Leon is teaching. We spent the afternoon sitting there, talking, and digging a large hole in the sand. We also encountered a lot of the little jumping bugs that burrow into the sand when they are unearthed accidentally. Even though it became cloudy later on, I was still sunburnt, another reminder for me to be aware of the powerful New Zealand sun.

After we headed back, I bought some beautiful gree-lipped mussels from the nearby Countdown, recently converted from a Foodtown, which were on sale for only $2.49 per kilogram. I am still amazed at how cheap shellfish is in New Zealand. I was so happy to discover I could get cheap shellfish that I took a photo of the bag of mussels and the receipt with the amazingly cheap price on them.

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