It’s not every day that someone stops by our truck with a hot breakfast, so today was pretty special. And later today we explored a new beachside town — Hihi — not far from Mangonui and part of the beautiful Doubtless Bay stretch of sand and calm waters.

We drove away from Peria yesterday, aiming to reach Kerikeri today so we could meet up with Marek sometime and conduct some business in town. However, plans can and do change, and we’re relaxed enough to realise that — although we have an intent to reach Kerikeri soon — we can’t actually plan when it will happen.

This morning, we were greeted with a hot breakfast from a friendly local whom we met last night at the ceili. Reese had baked potatoes, pumpkin and cabbage for us and brought it to our truck which was still parked on the waterfront. It was a lovely way to start the day — reminding us that there are new friends all around us!

Breakfast at Mangonui, May 2011
We enjoyed a hot, cooked breakfast — compliments of a friendly local!

While walking along the Mangonui waterfront, the girls’ imaginations were captured by the sight of flat sand across the water. Brioni asked if we could drive around and play on the beach, and so our direction for the day was set!

We took out the map and examined the area. The moment was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate map-reading skills to the girls, and we pointed out our current location and our desired destination. The road seemed to head in the right direction, so we packed up and drove off, taking the turn-off to Hihi Beach.

Although we soon discovered we couldn’t actually reach the beach we had seen, Hihi had enough of a beach to satisfy the girls’ desires. We spent the rest of the day lounging in the warm sun, playing in the sand and exploring up the coast.

Delaney, 16 months old, May 2011
Delaney stayed out of the water today — something I'm thankful for. She was happy to scrabble about in the sand and follow her sisters around.

Brioni with crab, May 2011
Brioni was delighted to find a deceased crab still intact. She was able to carefully examine its pincers and shell without fear of being pinched!

David and Aisha, May 2011
Wherever we go, Aisha likes finding special rocks and shells. She looks for ones with unusual colours or markings.

Calista, 3yo, May 2011
Calista discovered she could blow into this reed, pretending it was a fife. (I'm feeling quite Celtic after last night's ceili!)

Lauren on the computer, May 2011
I enjoyed a quiet moment of browsing and blogging in the sun. It's fabulous to be technology-enabled again!

Lauren and Brioni, May 2011
Later I also got to nap on the picnic table. Brioni and Aisha collected great quantities of flowers from local gardens to decorate their fairy town.

David and Aisha, May 2011
David helped Aisha practice her balance. I'm certain it won't be long before she can walk along fences like this by herself!

After we were finished at Hihi beach, we headed back to Mangonui to return the baking dish which had held our breakfast. Although we were just stopping by, Reese invited us to spend the night on his land, so we did!

So tonight we’re camping unexpectedly up at the top of Mangonui’s hill. We’ve got a beautiful view of the harbour, and Reese has run a cable out to our truck, providing us with electricity for lighting and (ahem) a computer charge. It’s lovely to again discover that as we open our hearts to those around us that we are rewarded with generosity, welcome and hospitality!