The Locals Of Akitio

Akitio had been on my mind map for a long time. Situated on the East Coast, north of Castle Point it is a small and isolated community with a campground, a shop that is open all hours, you just need to find the shop keeper and a takeaway that opens sometimes depending on something? Who knows? The fish n chips, scallops and mussel fritters are worth any wait, believe me. So was the time it took to finally go to Akitio. What an amazing place!

Beautiful light at Akitio

It was blowing a gale all the way across country but I was pretty confident that Akitio would be calm, being on the East Coast and all. I was completely wrong. It was blowing like hell. Relentless is the word that comes to mind. Cooking was a real mission. I had to re-park the van for shelter, move the table hard up against it and hope for the best.

The campground is right on the beach front. It has a lot of small bachs (cabins) with semi-permanent residents. Some are make shift caravans with rooms and kitchenettes added to them. And then there are the usual holiday homes.

There was a group of four having a drink on their deck in the late afternoon wind. ‘Welcome to the Wild West, ‘ one quipped with a laugh. “Isn’t it the East Coast?” I replied. They laughed more. ‘Is it always this windy? ‘, I asked. ‘Yes!’ I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth or lying to keep tourists away.

The van was hammered by the wind all night and into to next morning. I was chatting with a fisherman who said the wind will die out by midday and he was going to go fishing. I had no doubt he was right and almost to the exact time I saw him and others launching their boats. The sea was still rough and the waves huge but they of course knew what they were doing. It was calm by mid afternoon.

Chatting to locals is one of my favourite pastimes. And it generally pays off. Not that I’m after anything at all. It’s the way I was bought up. Acknowledge people, everyone, regardless of who they are or what they think, politics, religion, whatever. It’s not just the respectful thing to do, it’s one of those keys to living. Anyway, preaching over.

Koura (crayfish) everywhere else they’re known as rock lobster.

I knew that there would be a lot of kaimoana (shellfish, seafood) just off shore. I could tell by the flat reef that stretched out about 100 metres to the deep water. I just didn’t have the gear to go diving. This is when the friendly chat paid off. A local I had talked to the day before asked if I wanted to go out and check his craypots. Of course the answer was excited and overly loud ‘yes’! There were 3 tractors parked up at the local boat club. They all have the keys in the ignition and anyone can help themselves to them. So another local grabbed a tractor and backed the fisherman’s boat in to the tide. I was in the water helping ‘right’ it as there was still a little wave and strong tide. It was heavy but all good. I’ve done plenty of times before.

We shot out past the reefs to where there were 2 buoys. I hooked the line and pulled that into the boat and he hooked it up to a winch. The pots are too heavy to pull in by hand. And there were 8 crays in them. OMG! He threw 4 of them back, 2 females (give them a chance to breed) and 2 males that were of legal size but better giving them a chance to grow.

We went to his bach where he cooked them for us. So delicious. That’s what I mean about talking to locals paying off. It’s not about what you get from them. It’s just what we are all meant to do.

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