Monday, December 7, 2015

my beach house

I first stayed at the Royal Hotel in Okarito in 2001. It was a rainy May and I left Punakaiki with a full car. Someone knew someone who knew Roseanne who ran the Royal.
We didn't realize how small the town was and cobbled together dinner from  silverbeet (chard) growing in the garden. Breakfast, crepes with berries and whipped cream, was served at half past. 
The hostel was a collection of buildings including a ramshackle trailer. There was an illicit pub in a red barn where Roseanne and I won a darts' tournament(!) amidst a Keanu Reeves film festival. Strangely appropriate in a tiny settlement on the Tasman whose only population boom was as a gold mining town 150 years ago. 
Today, as the Okarito Beach House, it's a luxurious but affordable rental with a huge sunny kitchen and huger dining room table. 
None of the other bedrooms is occupied so I have the whole place to myself. A haven on a huge sandy spit surrounded by lagoons. 
The white heron sanctuary is to the north. 
The reeds and marshes are home to oystercatchers and ducks and the Okarito brown kiwi, rarest of kiwi birds. Tonight I'm going for a naturalist walk in search of them. 
I asked Aaron for a key. There isn't one. No one in Okarito locks their doors. 
I may never leave.