We woke to the melodic calls of bellbirds in the tree ferns and the fizz of Pacific breakers crashing on the beach. From our bed we gazed through the large picture windows, mesmerised by the expanse of ocean. It sparkled in the early sunlight, its sheen broken only by the waves rippling in to the shore with a slow, steady, graceful rhythm. So stunning was the vista, so peaceful and romantic, that even I, the chatterbox of the two of us, was speechless.
We were alone at the top of a hill on the north-east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island, ensconced in what the Kiwis call a bach: a self-contained beach house. This one-bedroom version was called, appropriately, Sea Escape. Our nearest neighbours were the bach’s charming owners, who live in a bigger house just down the hill.
From our bed we could see Great Mercury Island (Ahuahu in Maori), named by Captain Cook when he visited this stretch of coastline in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury across the sun. Beyond that, more than 30km off shore, rose Cuvier Island, or Repanga.
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