Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Getting off the ferry at Half Moon Bay, I still had an hour’s walk ahead of me to get home.

Taking a wrong turn rather cemented an idea I’d been lightly toying with for this evening – to do a bit of exploring and revisit some old haunts in the area.

Living in Howick for the past two-and-half years, I’ve fallen into some bad habits. One of them would be getting used to being driven around by other people.

Much as I enjoy my friends' company, I also feel really good that I took up jogging again this year.

So anyway, with only a vague idea of how the many places I’ve visited in this corner of Auckland jigsaw together, (I never absorb geography unless I’m walking) my legs set-off on a trip down memory lane, and quickly found Bucklands Beach.

Did I say memory lane? I don’t think I’ve ever been to Bucklands Beach – just heard a lot of mention of it, and spent about a year honestly believing that Eastern Beach had been it. So far this was more of a trip down amnesia lane.

Still, I treated myself to a can of Coke and marvelled at the beautiful bright red sunset as I strolled down the front in the cool evening air. It was highly tempting to just stop and chill on a bench, but I knew that would rob me of the rest of my journey.

When Bucklands Beach had run out, I continued along the coast hoping to make it round the cliffs to the aforementioned Eastern Beach.

This wasn’t going so well. Each turn around the cliffs just revealed another enticingly short walk to the next promising turn, but my worn-out shoes were letting in more and more water from the wet sand, and after a while it was getting pretty dark too.

Then the zip on my backpack burst open (as it’s apt to do lately) and my camera fell out and smacked down onto a rock.

Finally I decided I had to do the sensible thing, and I turned back. I’d noted that 3 turns back there had been a set of steps up the cliff.

Making it to the top, now almost in pitch darkness, I discovered that civilisation was still nowhere to be found. This turned out to be somewhere called Musick Point, a place that will remain forever etched in my memory as having a pathway that I followed through a lot of grass until it just stopped. Literally – it stopped and just became grass too. What the heck was the point of building that?!

You know how in films, when a character is lost in the wilderness, they always like to find a high vantage point to look around from? Well, that was no help either. From this high-up peninsulan perspective, I actually appeared to impossibly be on a small island – surrounded as I apparently was by water through all 360 degrees.

Following the pathway back, and occasionally using my phone to try to illuminate the map on my bus timetable, I vaguely perceived a road about 2 metres away. (it was that dark now) I was in luck! Any road couldn’t help but eventually lead back to civilisation. So I followed the road downhill until I found I had actually been wandering about on Howick Golf Course.

So I headed down Clovelly Road where, I later learnt, my buddy Shaune drove past me, but assumed it wasn’t me because I was so far away and on foot. :)

Still, tired as I was, I was still determined to take a detour down to Eastern Beach. Here I had been Kayaking for Kenya. Here I had also been to two Edge camps, and here I had also been baptised in 2004. Tonight however, here was where I saw a real live shooting star, burning down through the atmosphere towards the earth.

After revisiting the spot of my baptism (the tide was now out) I photographed the stars from there, and retraced an exploratory stroll I’d been on with fellow Brit Karen in 2005. Up two flights of stone steps and to an American-looking residential area. I accidentally walked around in a circle, and in so doing inadvertently managed to retrace the whole short journey from that afternoon.

Now however I was getting tired. Home was still a long way off, and my priority now was to make the next hour of walking go by as quickly as possible.

So I set off via MacLeans College and remembered my very first trip to Howick, when I’d been applying to a Bible School here three years ago. From then on I was simply retracing my steps home from a few weeks ago when I'd been to hear the Bruce Murray Singers one evening.

Arriving home at 11:30pm, I’d been walking for four hours. I made a cup of Horlicks, and crashed into bed. The daytime on Waiheke Island had been unusually free of walking, but the evening had certainly made up for that.

And I’d never have got to have that adventure in a car.

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