May 4

We spent a fairly relaxed day heading from the East Cape to Tolaga Bay, where Zhoel grew up. Along the way we stopped at a couple beaches, including checking for surf at Frog Rock and putting in a visit to his grandparents in Tokomaru Bay. It was nice to have a bit of a chat over coffee and enjoy the beautiful weather. His grandparents own a motel right on the beach and their land is beautiful.

After our visit, we took a walk down to the wharf. The beaches are much different than Waipu. The sand is extremely fine and soft. However, next to the ocean there are huge cliffs that are crumbling into the sea over time. It makes for an interesting contrast. The cliffs look like sand and are massive.

After we left Toko we headed for Tolaga. I was finally able to meet Zhoel’s father, Wayne, and his partner, Emily, for the first time. Wayne came out with us for a night fishing trip. We caught two sharks and kahawai. We took them home and cooked them for dinner. It was my first time eating shark. Zhoel filleted it and cooked it in oil and butter. The only thing that we had to look out for was that you have to scrape the ammonia out of the body using the handle of your knife. It is quite a strong smell. I found it a bit off putting. Apparently in restaurants shark is usually called lemon fish on the menu. It has a softer texture than fish and is less likely to flake apart. I had a bit more difficulty enjoying it because I watched Zhoel fillet it. Normally this doesn’t bother me; however, after he had decapitated and gutted one of the sharks, it continued to thrash around for almost an hour after.

We crashed in their yard for the night, trying out our car bed for the second time. It was quite comfortable!

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