Where:195 Maunganui Rd, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga 311
The Regular: A large soy cappuccino with lots of cinnamon please! Most of the time (ok every time) I’ll choose a cake too, my favourite is the raw carrot cake but this raw raspberry cheesecake was canny too.
Ours is in the main hub of Mount Maunganui, another clean space with yet another impressive cafe menu. The cafe’s here just really do take their jobs seriously. The couple who own the joint are almost always there working hard, pulling shifts in both front and back of house and once you’re a regular there, they’re sure to greet you with genuine warmth each time you return. I have all of the time for hard working people who beam with the passion for what they do.
The main reason I keep going back is, honestly, because it makes for a good work environment. The coffee is good enough, though not my favourite. It isn’t anything lacking from the beautiful Barista’s, the art and temperature and all that jazzy stuff is always top notch, it’s more the beans themselves I guess. Just not my favourite, but still worth sipping whilst you take in the calm vibe and nab a blooming beautiful vegan treat from their cabinet (pssst…go for the raw carrot cake). I’ve seen this place rammed but mostly it’s a quiet little nook. This is a wonderful thing for people like me who get intimidated by busy spaces but I truly hope it picks up a whole bunch. I hear it only recently reopened under new ownership and it deserves all of the crowds. Trust me.
Sunset lighting makes me feel at home no matter where in the world I am. It rests somewhere deep inside with a spreading warmth, a belonging and a detachment. When you watch on surrounded by other bodies, you’ll notice the same awe struck look on each face. There’s a reason so many people indulge in sunsets, take photographs aplenty and try so ardently to capture the colours, the shadows, the magic. Nature is a constant reminder of how insignificant we are and I feel like when you’re confronted with the almost divine impossibilities of the world you can’t help but mellow out into everything surrounding you. This is that united energy, the higher conciousness of realising we’re all lost here really. We don’t know whats out there, why we were put here, what really made our universe and continues to keep it going. This was one of many moments in the South Island that I truly couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. I was forcing my mind to catalogue the shape of the water in the shadow of the sun, the mist in the air like visible energy dancing around us, the passing clouds so defined they looked photoshopped in the clear sky. I felt alone amongst that crowd of strangers but I also felt so contentedly at ease. The anxiety vanished and I could breathe slow and distinguished. It remains the best sunset I’ve ever seen and part of me likes the thought of one day maybe witnessing another, greater, one. The end of the day in all of its celebrated glory. I’ve seen many sunsets on various beaches, in so many lands but this was spectacular. None of these photo’s have been edited and my camera is definitely not the greatest, I don’t have a fancy lense or any knowledge of how to use it properly, really. And still, this little gallery makes me smile and catch my breath and I hope it illicit’s something in you too. However basic bitch, extra af, a sunset photoshoot may be, they’ll always remain some of my favourites to look at because despite the mysterious beauty, the liveliness of the dieing day, the visuals come to my mind in a rush of scattered words and vivid emotions and that is the magic I’m running toward with every plane, train and bus I take. I’m searching for the simple forms that define ‘living’ and this is it.
My heart is shuttered from all of the new which surrounds me, it still lingers on the nurturing grounds of home. Here I am invisible again and I can’t stir my sinking self into action. Their faces are all sneers despite the reality, their whispers all conspiring against me despite tell tale words of other priorities. My palms sweat as I make my way to the kitchen but I pretend to be fascinated by the noticeboard just before it and hastily retreat to the dorm room. Even there when conversation is made I’m not present, my heart is racing, those barbed fences locked in place around who I actually am. The parts that do escape are echoes of the charm and wit I know are rioting deep down impatient to be freed. It’s nonsensical to be so afraid of new people, of this new place. But I’m homesick for the people I love so wholly, scattered around the world. My home is no place and that’s all that Mount Maunganui is in this moment. A place, a spectacular place with so much potential. But I’m lonely and afraid and a place just isn’t enough.
Tauranga is a handful of city with a less hectic vibe. There are some halfway there towers of buildings, professionally dressed people dotted about the cafes and a lot of cool projects on the rise. When I feel like I need a little city wonder it doesn’t really do it for me but then there lies the charm of New Zealand, it’s tiny cities and easy flow of life. There is a starbucks in Tauranga and it is the main reason I ever ventured there in the first place. Starbucks has always been my constant as I’ve bummed about travelling, always a familiar mug of coffee in a nearly identical space. But nowadays when I head to Tauranga it’s for this place, The Nourished Eatery. It lies just a two minute walk from the city centre bus stop and first snagged me in because it advertised, not only vegan food but Flight Coffee too. And Flight Coffee is my preferred bean for sure.
They do an Iced Maple latte that you can have with any choice of plant based milk (every single thing here is vegan, not even cow juice is available for the drinks). I always go for rice milk and they serve the components separate so you can chose your own level of caffeineyness. Of course I just chuck all of it in there. I always want to go for one of their smoothies but I can’t get over how good this iced coffee is.
As for food, well, it’s just as impressive. There are the expected raw treats on display which do look yum but me and my sweet tooth always sidetrack them for the good, indulgent, baked stuff. So far I’ve tried their custard passionfruit donut, apple and cinnamon muffin, choc chip cookie and Banana loaf. Now I just always chose the banana loaf. They manage to make all of their cakes so fluffy and light which is always a problem I have when I bake vegan bits myself.
From the menu I’ve only ever tried the avocado on toast, it was insane. They give you so much avocado and the seasoning is wonderful thing. I don’t really have the foodie lingo to truly amp it up I guess but as far as vegan food goes this is a top choice here in New Zealand, definitely one of my favourites and of course it’s a local, independent, business which is always a bonus.
This is the West Coast, a stretch of road put up on the list of the best road trips in the world. Can you see why? Imagine the pure, raw, site of it all. That lazy ocean and frayed shapes of the pancake rocks. This little piece of my journey was enough to remind me that seeing an imagine second hand isn’t enough. That as much as I appreciate photography, as much as it may be my favourite visual art form, it can’t quite ignite the feelings of being present and reaching that cosmic level of understanding. Understanding the levels of beauty on our tiny piece of universe. This shit is what the aliens would invade us for. Standing at a view point with that early summer breeze sauntering through the air, temperatures so perfect you’re niether shivering nor sweating, the crowds around you are nothing because what you see, this actual real scenery, has consumed you. The ocean is my home, it’s my councillor, my mysterious lover, the one place I will never tire of returning too and this chunk of road time swelled that connectedness in my heart.
My memory is a little mushed with the particulars of the trip but I’m almost positive that this was the connection between Westport and Lake Mahinapua. I have no pictures of Westport so I’ll quickly say that, though it wasn’t as magical as a lot of the trip, I did paddle board for the first time (such a meditative activity) and did enjoy the hostel heaps, Bazil’s Hostel. Me and a couple of the girls even did an early morning Yoga class and grabbed a surprisingly good cup of coffee before we set off which probably put my mind in the perfect set up to connect with all that natural wonder around us.
If I regret anything from my South Island experience it’s not spending more time in Kaiteriteri. A place of abundant beauty, soft sunlight and warm sand. Another regret is not taking more photographs. The colours during the day, of toasty orange sands and glittering sapphire ocean, remarkable blue skies and lively green shrouded cliffs in contrast to the smooth violets and navies as the sun called it a night. The air was warm, breeze pleasant. It makes me smile to think of it.
The morning of the day we left, we got to kayak along the shoreline of the Abel Tasman national park. Though a couple of my bus chums snapped a few shots and took a couple videos I’ve yet to chase them up and I didn’t dare sacrifice my camera or phone to the waters in case we did, in fact, capsize. Despite the lack of evidence my memory still serves the trip true at the moment and the feeling I get remembering the place is enough.
There was no time to hike through the park but maybe I’ll go back there and live the wonder of it fully. The kayaking was a treat though and actually one of my most favourite memories of the whole trip. The weather was stunning, the water so blue, the instructors so fun and informative. They could tell us Maori tales and sprout facts (that could very well be bullshit) about the national park. They told us the legend of the split rock just off of its shores too, telling us to paddle over and touch it for luck. Me and my kayak partner, Erin, did just that. I vaguely remember it being about a feud, that some valuable possession once stood there and turned to rock over the years, split in two by a God to appease the squabbling pair. I’m sorry I can’t recite it fully, the story is at odds with various others I’ve heard about the split rock since and then those again are at odds with what I read on the internet. There is also a story with its origins in Greek Myth (which baffles me) that a couple other travellers told me back at the hostel, something to do with Zeus (isn’t it always?). As much as Greek Myth fascinated me, I prefer the Maori tale.
The traditions and beliefs of New Zealand’s people really do amplify the experience. I’m a firm believer in the magic of nature, of our earth and all of the stories and traditions that the Maori people are grounded in gave every part of my South Island tour such soul.
Where: 373 Maunganui Rd, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga 3116
I woke up in an unfamiliar room in a seaside town shrouded by dark clouds, my motivation was trapped between new fresh white sheets and a fully hazy morning head. But I had no coffee waiting in the cupboard and a trip to the supermarket wasn’t a jump out of bed kinda thought. Exploring a new cafe, however, sounded all kinds of promising. My walk into town is a half hour on a main road and by the time I arrived at the first scattering of stores and cafes I couldn’t hold out for the main hub of the mount, this is when I decided to wonder into Octopus’ Garden.
The outside is all clean paint and the highest of hipster cafe aesthetics. The whole little shack and backyard courtyard scream summer and the pure vibrancy of the fresh colour palettes is enough of a selling point without the precious looking machine (I had a pure barista fangirl moment as I gushed with the girl behind the counter about how darn cute it was) I’ve seen none like it. I went for my standard order these days of a cold brew coffee, bitter and black and nothing at all like my heart. If I finish off a black coffee then you know it’s a good blend because I can only drink my life giving nectar sans milk if it’s top notch quality. Would most definitely head here again.