After a few great days in Whanganui, I was just about to head off when I ran into Thomas again on the street. It seems his plans had changed slightly, and with a little discussion, we set off again towards the East Cape. The East Cape is a very remote part of New Zealand with a rugged, rocky coast fringed with the gnarled trunks and boughs of ancient Pohutakawa trees. It is a very Maori area of New Zealand and while there certainly were other travelers and tourists, we were definitely off the main track.
We spent a few days camping at the Maraehoka Retreat. A Maori owned and operated lodge in a sheltered cove on Whanarua Bay. There was a great little day-hike through the fern forest to Whanaura Falls and free kayaks to paddle the coves and inlets. Being the avid angler, Thomas fished every day, and we had fresh Kahawai and Kingfish for dinner.
The highlight for me was joining Pihi, the owner, and his two sons for a day of Marlin fishing off the coast. There was a nation-wide sport fishing tournament going on that week, and for $40, I could head out on the boat for the day with them. It was incredible to get out away from the coast on the cobalt waters of the Pacific. The water was the color of a blue glass bottle, and after some showers in the morning, theday was just perfect.
We didn't have much luck with the fish. We looked all day for birds diving on the horizon, and while we saw several, we only managed to hook one small marlin who quickly freed himself before we could start reeling him in.
It was looking like the day was just about over when all of a sudden, Pihi shouted, "Marlin!" We quickly reeled the other lines in while he took a set in the chair facing the back of the boat and started to fight with the fish. After a few minutes, it was clear we had hooked not a marlin, but a small Mako shark - about 5 feet. Pihi maneuvered the fish along side the boat where his son and I were waiting with gaffs to ... Well to be honest with you, beside sticking this huge hook-on-a-stick into the shark, I really had no idea what I was supposed to do.
It all happened quite fast, but I jammed my gaff into the sharks chest just under its head. It seemed like a good shot, but after a moment, the shark was able to twist free. So Pihi's yelling "GAFF IT! GAFF IT!" and his son and I are watching this thing go into a death spiral and twist uncontrollably until suddenly everything was quiet. The shark had bit through the line and was free...along with the $200 lure that we watched float slowly into the depths. "Damn it... Second one in a week" Pihi, said quietly. I felt terrible, but let's face it, I did about as well as an inexperienced gaffer can do.
We pulled the line in and headed for home. If the lure wasn't enough, all of a sudden the engine started to smoke. We had started to pull up some of his Cray Pots, but decided to just get back before anything else went wrong...which it did. Right as we were trying to pull the boat onto the trailer, the engine decides it won't go into gear. So we have to hop out and pull the boat onto the trailer. I'm glad we made it in before the thing started to take on water!
Still it was great day even though the wheels started to fall off there a bit at the end. The happy ending was that I was able to eat the one Spiny Lobster we pulled up before heading in. Well, not the whole thing. Another guest had arranged to have it for his dinner but only ate the tail. Pihi was about to toss the body and legs away, and I asked if I could have it. Let me tell you, it was packed with meat - much moreso than the body of an Atlantic lobster. Waste not, want not!