A New Beginning

On Tuesday 29th of November, Diarmuid became the proud (if slightly cautious) owner of a 1993 Mitsubishi Galant V6. Mitsubishi Galant He was wary of the few spots of rust in out of the way places but in my opinion there was little wrong with the car seeing as it is 12 years old. Though today we did have a bit of a scare when the engine wouldn’t start. After getting a jumpstart, it’s back up and running but the battery seems to be fine, so we’re a little confused as to what happened.

We left Auckland a day later than planned, last Thursday, as I found that I needed one extra day in Auckland to get a few things done, primarily sorting out the photos that were left on my camera and packing and organising my gear. Diarmuid was a little annoyed, seeing as I had been very eager to leave Auckland, but in the end I was surprised at how quickly we were ready to leave. On the Monday that he bought the car I had been thinking that it was likely that we’d be staying for another week, but in the end it was very quick.

On Thursday we set off for Rotorua. It was a glorious day, the sun was pouring rays of heat down upon us as we travelled along the motorway and roads, listening to music. Halfway through I switched to The Beach Boys and that lasted us for most of the rest of the journey. Having got some information with regard to accomodation and activities, we stocked up on some food from the local PAK’n’SAVE and headed to Kuirau Park to have our lunch. I then started to walk around and take some pictures, but unfortunately the battery ran out after only a few pictures and I cursed myself for not having charged it in Auckland before we left as I continued to walk around the impressive steaming pools and the pits of bubbling mud. Which brings me to perhaps the most noticeable thing about Rotorua which is the smell. Depending on how close you are to the geothermal areas you get the constant stench of sulphur and other foul smelling chemicals. Admittedly it is quite bearable most of the time but occasionally a strong whiff of rotton eggs is carried by the wind and I find myself gagging when this happens. Diarmuid claims that it smells no worse than Dublin, I beg to disagree.

Having walked around and enjoyed the sights of Kairau park, we left for the Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park whose brochure had grabbed my attention with a trout prominent in its logo. We soon settled in and I quickly did a reconnaissance of the river after talking to the owner who said that several trout had been caught and that a particularily large one had been seen. I didn’t catch a glimpse of a fish, but I did get the feeling that there was plenty of fish in the river and there were plenty of places for them to hide. The river leads down to Lake Rotorua and I sat there for a while. On the way down we had passed a group of local children who were playing and jumping in the river and their whoops and the splashes as they jumped into the river could be heard clearly. All in all, the place struck me as a very pleasant sort of area to live.

Back to the site and a quick lookover of the facilities and then we proceeded to put up our tent. I went for another walk along the river and read some of “All Creatures Great and Small” down by the lake. As I was sitting there a small rowboat with the couple who were camping beside us went by and out on to the lake. They had a few fishing rods with them. I returned to the campsite again and got my own rod out to try casting. My first few attempts were woeful but I quickly improved to at least something passable as a cast. I didn’t see anything let alone catch something. The couple arrived back a little after I did, but their trip had been much more profitable, they had caught two fish. The husband had caught a small trout, which at home would have been a reasonable result of a days fishing but his wife had caught a monster of a trout, as big as a salmon. Talking to them, it turned out that they were from Dublin and Wicklow respectively. The husband, Ben was a keen fisherman back home and was sorely missing his fishing rod which he’d been unable to take with him on his travels so far but was hoping to get at least his fishing vest taken over for him by a friend at Christmas.

After I’d finished my dinner, I had a chat with Ben about fishing as he was filleting the small trout, the big one was already being smoked. With such trout obviously being around I went for another walk down the river, but still not a sign. I knew they were there but just couldn’t see them and they were no rises. I turned back a little downhearted when I heard a plop. I stopped and looked back trying to find the telltale rings. I couldn’t so I turned to leave, “Plop,” I heard it again and turned around, then again “Plop.” I had caught that one but couldn’t believe my eyes, it was one of the smallest fish I’d ever seen jump. I wasn’t even sure if it was a fish, but again and again the little fish jumped and fell back again into the river. I crouched, gazing in wonder at it for about five minutes and then turned back to the site. Diarmuid met me on the way and as we had just reached the boundary of the campsite, I heard what sounded like a rise and Diarmuid had seen it. I heard another rise to my right and then another to my left. That was enough, I went back to the campsite and got my rod and spent a few minutes casting a nymph, but the fish didn’t show any more interest and I didn’t hear or see another thing.

I made my way to the kitchen where I met Ben and his wife Jenny again. They invited me to sit down and try some of the smoked trout which was just about ready. With a glass of wine, a slice of tomato, I ate some small pieces of the trout. It was delicious, the smoking had added a rich taste to the fish which was quite unlike anything else I’ve eaten. Diarmuid joined us at the table and he too tried some of the fish. We spent the next couple of hours talking about fishing, films, home and travelling. Midnight wasn’t long in coming and by that stage Ben and myself had both comitted ourselves to getting up at 05:30 the next morning to do some fishing. Ben had been invited by the handyman on the campsite to come do some fishing with him and I was welcome to join them, but figured I’d be better just having a go on the river.

I eventually went to sleep, but woke a couple of times most noticeably at 04:30 when I heard an unearthly scream from some animal or bird. I fell asleep again only to be wakened by my alarm at 05:30. I quickly turned it off and considered my options, whether to get up and go fishing or just go back to sleep. I almost went back to sleep but forced myself out of the tent. Ben was up a minute or two later and then his guide arrived. He set Ben’s rod up and added a large fly, followed by a smaller fly below that one. The larger one looked big. Then then went off in the handyman’s car and I started down the river looking for any scene of a rising trout. There were none. When I made it to the mouth of the river, I met another fisherman who appeared to be a local. There had been no activity for him either and though he had floated a fly twice over the same trout, he said it hadn’t moved, that it was in a coma. “It’s too cold but when it warms up, it should send the trout in from the lake.” I thanked him for his advice as he left for home to get a mug of coffee. I returned back to my tent and went back to sleep, an hour had been enough for me and I was very tired.

A couple of hours later, I got back home. Ben had arrived back and though he’d seen plenty of trout, he hadn’t caught anything. They left that morning and I occasionally kept an eye on the river but the only thing breaking the water’s surface were the many ducks entering and leaving the water. At first at each sound, I would raise my head, but I soon realised that it was only the ducks.

I spent the rest of the day reading “All Creatures Great and Small,” which I finished yesterday and then proceeded to continue with “Oliver Twist. ” Fly fishing is a bit doubtful at the moment on the river and dry flies seem hopeless as the trout don’t appear to be feeding at the surface which is infuriating as there’s plenty of flies around. Still the weather has been very good with the sun beating down. My arms got burned the day before yesterday but that should hopefully even out the colour on my hands. Tomorrow (ie. Monday), we’re leaving here and heading for Lake Waikaremoana where Diarmuid is going on a four day hike. I’m going to go fishing and hopefully even catch something. Right now, things appear to be going well and the start of this new plan has been quite enjoyable for me.

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