We’ve been in and around Kerikeri many times now — the girls are familiar with all the op shops and public toilets, and every place that serves vegetarian meals in town has seen us at least once. But today was the first time that we actually visited the water of Kerikeri Inlet.

As we’ve been walking around town, the girls have often commented on the numbers of seagulls that are wheeling in the air overhead and poaching scraps from picnic tables. Whenever the girls have asked where the sea is, I’ve pointed in a vague direction before admitting that I didn’t actually know.

When today dawned bright and cheerfully warm, we decided to get out the map and see where the beach was. Together, we looked at the symbols on the map, and the girls could track the waterways near Kerikeri. We found a road that led to one and plotted our route.

The Kerikeri Inlet is a beautiful, calm-water mooring for many boats without it looking like a marina. The landscape around was peppered with volcanic rocks — some properties had constructed rock-walls — and we kept tripping over large rocks hidden in the kikuyu grass as we trekked from our parking spot to the water.

Kerikeri Inlet, May 2011
Kerikeri Inlet is beautiful and calm.

The older girls found glass bottles, seaweed, plants and other bits with which to create miniature “fairy” landscapes, and Delaney found her personal amusement in David and me. As a family, we explored a small wharf (very clearly signmarked: “Use at own risk”) and the surrounding rocks.

Aisha on the jetty, May 2011
Aisha very bravely ran out to the end of the jetty by herself. (It wasn't until I walked to the end of the pier myself that I appreciated the enormity of what she had done!)

Jetty at Kerikeri Inlet, May 2011
The construction is sturdy but hazardous to anyone who isn't particularly sure of foot.

Brioni, 4yo, May 2011
Brioni pulls the sea-beads apart very meticulously.

Aisha, 6yo, May 2011
Aisha collected sticks, seeds and flowers to decorate her fairy castle.

Brioni, 4yo, May 2011
Rather than detracting from the girls' game, the volcanic rocks add interest with their irregularities.

Brioni at Kerikeri Inlet, May 2011
A number of small rowboats were pulled up on the rocky shore. They provide access for boat owners to get out to their crafts.

We watched boats come up the inlet, and a pair moored quite close to us. Being a Sunday afternoon, the boaties had been out all day and and were coming in with their fishing catch.

As we walked back to the truck, Aisha heard voices ahead. There was a family loading their boating gear back into their car. “Quick, Daddy!” Aisha exclaimed, “New friends, new friends up ahead!”

We did enjoy a lovely conversation with Bart and his family, and they recommended some more idyllic local spots for parking up and spending a peaceful day. Even more than the pleasant interaction with this Belgian family is our delight is seeing our children learning that new friends are just ahead — waiting to be met and talked with!

Watching pizza being made, May 2011
Back in Kerikeri, we got to watch our pizza being made. Aisha was fascinated by the elasticity of the dough and wanted to taste some of it before it was baked.

(We’re finding so many special connections up here in Northland. The pizza oven that was used to cook our dinner was designed and built by our friend Clinton — he of the Dr Suess/Pineapple house!)