Every moment of our trip was fantastic. We drove through the Awakino Gorge which is spectacularly lined with white limestone cliffs, big caves and lush native bush. The river gracefully meanders its way down to the sea through deep pools interspersed with rapids incessantly babbling over river stones. There is a tunnel that the road goes through, then as the Awakino River nears the sea, the estuary is dotted along it's banks with whitebait stands poised ready for the next run of whitebait. It’s all just awesome, a photographers dream come true.
The first morning Paul and Geoff headed out at daybreak to get the kites out. Murray and Laurel Reid - the Mokau Motel owners - took me down to the beach later to meet up with them. The fishing kites were already set out so it was just a matter of waiting a few hours before bringing the lines back in. The main road north from New Plymouth is right on the coast at Mokau - Awakino, so some travellers stopped and watched as we hauled in the gear, a few of the locals also came down came to lend a hand.
As Geoff pulled in Paul's 65kg Dropper Rig and Paul readied the camera there was an air of anticipation - what fish were on the line? The traces appeared, dissapointingly there was a tangle in the hook section- but we did bring in some good snapper too.
While Geoff was setting his Kite Longline Rig, Paul noticed further up the beach a couple, Des and Di, having difficulties with their kite. They had one of Paul’s Powerchute Fishing Kites but the strong wind of 35 knots plus wasn’t really suitable for this kite as it is a light wind model. That aside is was great to meet them and Paul gave Des a few pointers about the kite so they did manage to get their gear set.
After putting the kite out for an evening set, Geoff filleted the fish he had caught on the previous set and had the local fish and chip shop deep-fry it for us. Wow, I thought that was special, Geoff had worked so hard fishing all day and here he was bring us a superb meal of freshly cooked snapper.
Nightfall had arrived and the guys were back out again to bring in the kite. Paul was filming and once again the locals turned out to lend a helping hand. I opted to stay back in the warmth of the motel but Paul captured on film the evenings fishing and you can view this above or on You Tube. They didn’t get the 20 pound snapper Paul was hoping for, but they did get a 12 pounder and some other nice sized snapper.
These men at Mokau are serious fishermen - at the crack of dawn Geoff was putting out his kite again. Unfortunately this time there were only spotty dog sharks to be caught. Everyone except me was dissapointed, I was really excited as I knew it meant we would have to come back down again.
Murray and Laurel had bought their boy Harlem a Flexiwing Kite. These kites can be attached to a fishing rod and Paul spent time showing him how to use it. I really enjoyed watching this. There are only four traces on the line and it is easy to operate. Harlem picked up kite fishing from a fishing rod really quickly and I was learning watching them.
It was all so simple - I just have to get one of these kites and I am sure it won’t take too much to convince my girlfriends up here to do likewise - then we can have a ladies day down the at the beach. I can just imagine it, picnic baskets, glass of wine and then taking our catch back to our men for dinner.
We had to head back to Whangarei but before we left Des and Di came down to the beach and had kindly brought some smoked trout for us. Des had marinated it in olive oil and whiskey before slow smoking it for three days, it was absolutely divine!
We were also given some wild pork bacon to bring back home which was quickly devoured over our breakfasts for the next few days. I just can’t get over the generosity of the people at Mokau.
We stayed at the Mokau Motel owned by Murray and Laurel Reed. We had one of the downstairs units which became our haven during our stay. The unit was really comfortable and roomy. I enjoyed the fact that it had a separate kitchen with all the cooking facilities plus separate bedroom, bathroom and toilet. There is also a spa room available to guests. The view from the motel was great and I was particularly in awe of the spectacular view we had of Mt Taranaki.
Murray and Laurel are great hosts and made us feel extremely welcome. Laurel invited me to view the luxury apartments upstairs. Wow, they were just fabulous and the one I looked at had its own spa bath! Paul has promised me next time we will book into this unit. Visit the Mokau Motel website www.mokaumotels.co.nz for more information. We really did enjoy our stay at the motel and highly recommend it. The motel is ideally situated and within easy walking distance to shops and, of course, the beach.
I can’t wait until we go down to Mokau again. From a woman’s perspective I found it a great place, unfortunately we just ran out of time before I could explore all that I wanted to. However, I did quite a bit of beach combing while Paul was busy. Unlike a lot of the West Coast, Mokau beach was full of facinating shells, unusually shaped stones and driftwood. I found a perfectly shaped stone with a hole through it that I can make a necklace out of. I can’t wait to make it up and wear it as my own personal momento from Mokau.
The Mokau River Run Cafe is just across the road from the motel. I was amazed at the selection of food this coffee shop has, a huge blackboard menu and an incredible assortment of tempting foods ready to go, so much variety it was difficult to make a choice. No wonder the Cafe is a such a popular stopover for those passing by.
Mokau is great, next time I want to visit the Museum, check out the Mokau river mouth and of course there will be time spent kite fishing and floundering. My experience at Mokau would not have been as special had it not been for the people we met down there. They are incredibly welcoming, friendly, generous and warm-hearted. I came away buzzing about the place and somehow the fact that it was cold while we were there paled into insignificance. What stands out in my mind was the fishing and the warmth of the people.
My first Kite Fishing experience far exceeded my expectations. I had a ball, ate fine food, learnt about kite fishing, went beach combing, etc, etc. Life is just great!