A 65th party at Pauanui was next on our agenda. After the celebrations, much to the surprise of our friends we declined an invitation to stay the night at their beautiful home on the waterways, preferring to park our luxurious, fully self-contained Britz motorhome, nicknamed ‘the Ritz’ at a sublime freedom-camping site right on the beachfront at the foot of Mt Pauanui.
Next day, after a sunrise breakfast and a stroll along the beach, we rejoined our mates for a fishing expedition to Shoe Island. Chris was ecstatic with a magnificent silver kingfish he caught.
In the afternoon, we borrowed our mates’ e-bikes and rode the length of the 3km beach and back, along the estuary and boardwalk – an exhilarating ride made much easier on the grass and sand by the power-assisted pedaling. For once I could keep up with my super-fit husband.
We decided Mt Pauanui must be climbed … yet again. It’s a long and strenuous uphill hike on a steep, gnarly, zigzag track with an infuriating number of false tops but the sense of achievement and sweeping vistas of Pauanui, Tairua, Mt Paku, the estuary, the Pinnacles and the offshore islands including the jagged Aldermens in the distance make reaching the 387m summit highly rewarding. From the car park, the direct route to the top is 1.4km long, and takes about an hour. You can also take a much longer but gentler track to the summit via Cave Bay and Flat Rock.