We didn’t spend as much time in Russell as anticipated, mainly because we wanted to escape the holiday parks. We thought we might find a beach or secluded spot to spend a few days. We took the ferry from Russell across the bay to Paihia to explore the area. Someone in Kawakawa said we could camp at the bowling club for a minimal fee if anything. We didn’t see anyone at the bowling club, so we continued on our way.
We had booked to stay at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Kerikeri over Christmas from the 23rd to the 27th, but the Bay of Islands isn’t that big, and we found ourselves not far from Keri Keri. We considered driving up north and returning for Christmas, but we didn’t want to rush to be somewhere, and we would need more time to look around the 90-mile beach area and be back to Kerikeri by Christmas. Since we weren’t far from Kerikeri, we decided to see what was there. On the way, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand to buy some sweet corn. The bloke at the stand suggested we checkout Pagoda Lodge in Kerikeri. He thought it was much better than the Top 10. We decided to check it out.
An English couple runs Pagoda Lodge. Being Buddhist, they designed the magnificent grounds to be peaceful and tranquil with ponds surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. There were several enormous trees that provided ample shade. Amy thought it should be a Buddhist retreat rather than a lodge and campsite. There were several buildings that were used as cottages or rooms to rent. A large communal deck overlooked a river with thick native bush on both banks. It was a magnificent place to stay.
During our second day in Keri Keri, Amy met someone at the library who was also involved in Steiner education. After talking to her for a while and explaining what we were doing, she suggested that we introduce ourselves to Marty at Kerikeri Organics on the outskirts of town. Amy had seen the sign on the way into town, and wanted to check it out anyway. We followed the sign 750 meters up a farm driveway.
This is looking back down the driveway.
As promised, after 750 meters, the driveway opened up and there was the store. The store was more like a stall than a store. Here’s Amy, Quinne, and Beck standing in front of the store.
We met Marty, who was working on a drive shaft in front of the store. Mary was happy to show us how the store works. It’s completely self-serve. You choose what you want, weigh it to figure out the price, and write it down on a piece of paper. When you have everything you want, you put your money in the till, and off you go. After buying a few things, we started chatting to Marty about what we were doing. We told him that we were interested in joining the gathering they were planning for this Saturday on the solstice. He told us we were welcome and to bring some fruit dish and a poem or song. We asked him if he had any suggestions about camping. He said, “yes, sure – no problem, just find a place that’s level. If you need the tractor to get in, that’s fine.”
Just then a German guy named Peter drove up and almost ran over Quinne. After a short discussion with Marty, Peter told us to visit him up the road to meet Beth. Peter looks after a portion of the land next to Marty. We walked up the road to meet Beth, but went too far and walked into the wrong house. The household we intruded on belonged to Tony and his wife Theo. Theo didn’t seem to mind us barging in and explained that Peter lived farther down the road. Tony and Theo’s house and property is perched near the top of the hill on a tranquil piece of land. Their beautiful house fitted the majestic landscape well.
On our way back down to Peter’s, we ran into Tony walking through one of his fields. Tony looks like he lives the most healthy and perfect life. His long, wavy hair frames a tanned face with dark kind eyes. Here’s a picture of Tony. Like many people in this community, Tony is from Germany. Although he didn’t let on, he owns the land Peter lives on, and the land that we’re on.
Tony seems to be behind much of this peaceful community.