Historical Sites & Deadly Fishing

Let me see if I can get this right here….

We were fishing about a mile from shore around Motuterahiki Island. It’s a small island that consists of nothing but jagged rock that rises a hundred or so feet above the surface of the ocean. We hear that familiar singing of the reel telling us that a fish has snatched onto the blue and silver Rapala lure we’ve been trolling behind our inflatable dinghy. 

Dan is reeling in our catch while mountainous waves crash onto the rocks sending white foam fifty feet into the air just a few meters from Sparkle.  Suddenly our dinghy motor stops. I turn to look over my shoulder and see nothing but rocks and sea foam racing closer as the huge waves push us toward this deadly island that sports nothing but sharp edges and signs of impending doom.

I scream out to Dan, “We’re getting too close to the rocks.” He frantically hands me the fishing pole and I begin reeling in the fish while he tries to start Sparkle’s motor. My stomach is churning as I think of the sharks that will soon be circling as the dinghy sinks. The jagged rocks will shred my limbs as I climb this mountain of death and the oozing blood will invite these savage beasts to their next feast..…ME!  I’ve made it over 15,000 NM across the sea and here I’m going to die just one mile from shore. This can’t be happening! Oh the horror of it all! Goodbye cruel world!

Just when I start to see my life pass before my eyes a miracle occurs. It is as if God himself has reached down from the heavens and gently pushed us around the island and away from the rocks. Before I know what’s happening God tosses that fish into our dinghy and we are saved from doom. THANK YOU LORD!

Jilly's favorite fishing pic!
And I helped!

Okay, okay….it really wasn’t all that bad but, in my defense, it is a bit nerve-racking when you are in an inflatable dinghy that is being pushed with a significant amount of force toward sharp rocks knowing that the motor isn’t working and you are now at the mercy of the sea. It’s even more unsettling when a wave swamps the back end of said inflatable dinghy and water is now up to our ankles in our new swimming pool where buckets and other items are floating all around.

I did, in fact, complain that my arms were getting tired because, well, they were. I’m not used to bringing in the big fish. I’m the photographer and videographer. The most I lift is a camera phone that weighs just a few ounces. And yes, I admit that once that fish was in the dinghy I called it an asshole. I’m making no apologies there. At the time my adrenaline was racing and I couldn’t think of a nicer word for a fish that brought so much chaos and fear into my life.

All that said it was an amazing experience catching our first Kingfish and what made it even more amazing is the fact that it was a true team effort. It took every bit of both of us to land him and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.  And, that I was still able to get some video of it too! Click Here!

Off To Marsden Cross

The beach at Marsden Cross
At the beach where Marsden Cross is located.

But this is just part of our day. The earlier part of the day, while not quite as adrenaline pumping, was brilliant as well. It was sunny with a great breeze and so we headed off to shore. You see we are anchored in Rangihoua Bay which is the location of Marsden Cross. What’s the significance you ask? Well, this is the official birthplace of New Zealand. 

The actual cross located on the shore is said to be the place where Samuel Marsden, a missionary, held the first Christian church service on Christmas Day 1814. With the blessings of  Chief Ruatara of the Ngāpuhi Māori tribe Marsden also established the first Pākehā (European) settlement. 

The beach where Marsden Cross is located
The view of Marsden Cross from our anchorage in Rangihoua Bay


An interesting note here is that while many today use the word Pākehā as a derogatory term against the Europeans or others who are not of Māori descent, we’ve learned that the word actually has a very beautiful meaning.

The Hongi. Pākehā
The Hongi Greeting

Pākehā references three words:

Pā – means to come in to contact, to make contact.

Ke – is related to the word ‘rerekē’ which means different, or unique.

Hā – is to share and exchange the breath. 

The whole reason Māori do a hongi – (the traditional greeting where they touch noses and foreheads) is to share and acknowledge the breath, the hā, that connects us all.

So putting those three words together we have:

“To come into contact with a unique essence of the hā”. This certainly is a much more beautiful interpretation of the word than what we’ve come to know. I think we’ll stick with this moving forward.

Back to Marsden Cross

Dan & Jilly at Marsden Cross

Enough language lessons for today. Let’s get back to our visit to the beach and Marsden Cross. We landed Sparkle on the shore and headed up to view the giant stone cross. There were two Kiwi folks standing there taking pictures so Dan asked if they wanted one together. They in turn took one of us and with all of this we ended up having a wonderful chat. We talked for about twenty minutes about everything from the history of the ground we were standing on to our sailing from Mexico. They turned out to be very kind folks and certainly embodied the “Kiwi way”. Of course that’s not unusual. We find that just about every Kiwi we’ve come into contact with is delightful and kind and completely welcoming.

After our chat we decided we’d walk up the trail to see what else we could find here. It turns out this is part of the Rangihoua Heritage Park. Along the trail there are signs that provide information about the the pā (settlement), the people and the history of the area. It is really quite fascinating and the scenery is truly out of this world! 

We couldn’t have picked a better day to visit here with bright sun, clear blue skies and cool breezes. Grape Ape had the time of his life running through the hills, climbing trees and just doing the all the things purple apes love to do.

Grape Ape insisted on having his photo taken with Dan.

My asthma often prevents me from taking really strenuous hikes so I was a bit concerned when Dan said we were going to hike to the top of the mountain. As it turns out it is a pretty easy hike with fairly gentle switchbacks. There’s one short section near the top that is tad steeper than the rest but I just took my time and eventually I was at the peak. My reward? One of the most stunning views I’ve seen in all of New Zealand. We could literally see for miles and the ocean below was so clear and filled with so many different hues of blue and green. I could have stood on that mountain top for hours!

The bonus of all of it, aside from the magnificent views, is that we did the hard work on the first part of the hike. It was all downhill getting back to the beach and the boat!!! That’s my kind of hiking. 

Back on Dazzler I had an icy cold beer and a nice rest in the cockpit to celebrate my accomplishment. Of course after that Dan decided we were going fishing and, well, you know what happened there.

This day was filled with a beautiful hike, a chance meeting with some terrific Kiwis and a near death (or maybe not so near death) experience. No matter how you look at it, this was a day filled with all the things that make a true adventure.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

P.S. If you want the less dramatic version of the fishing story you might want to read Captain Dan’s version. Sometimes he tends to be a little more level headed than me. CLICK HERE!

Author: Dan & Jilly

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