Rae Roadley, Maungaturoto resident and writer of 48 Hours' column The Country Side, is exploring a different type of county.
A dry, dusty and sprawling town in the northern reaches of the Northern Territory has an unusual water feature.
The tide at Derby has one of the largest rises and falls in the world at about 11 metres.
The rapid flow draws tonnes of dirt that turns the sea muddy brown. But just a 30-minute seaplane ride away is bright turquoise sea and a remarkable phenomenon.
Fourteen of us, captain included, crammed into the plane that lifted us from Derby, across vividly patterned tidal flats and onwards. Soon we could have been swooping over the Bay of Islands, except the land was uninhabited and the sea was home to sharks and crocs.
The pilot circled the plane and pointed out Horizontal Falls. There were two of them and they were the reason for our visit. I gazed at them, puzzled. This trip had been highly recommended by friends.
"But it's just the tide flowing through a gap in the hills," I said to the farmer.
He grinned and patted my knee in much the way he might have patted the head of a dog that had showed up, tail wagging, with one sheep when he'd expected the entire flock. Truth was I didn't get what the fuss was about.
After a smooth landing onto the twinkling sea we taxied to our headquarters for the day, a large oblong two-level vessel. With the motor stilled, the farmer said, "But you've seen the brochures. What did you expect?"
I'd quietly decided we were to be let in on a secret only those who made the trip would learn. Perhaps as the tide raced out, it flowed across horizontal crevices in the cliffs . . . or something like that.
Horizontal Falls are two gaps in the land where water rushes in and out at great speed due to the extreme tides – and that's much more thrilling than it sounds. Our trip to Horizontal Falls was a holiday highlight.
We were lucky. Neap tides at the time meant the gaps were navigable by super-speedy boats piloted by super-clever young men. We zipped back and forth, we got showered with water, kids screamed, we circled, we hovered in the 13-knot flow that squeezed through the gap, then we whizzed through again before a repeat in the second, narrower gap.
Then came a trip up Cyclone Creek, between towering hills and up narrow rivers. It's possible to be choppered in and stay overnight; also in the area was a cruise ship and another boat with accommodation. We also met a giant croc resting on a bank.
Then came barramundi and salad on our floating arrangement with its four helipads. Choppers regularly arrived and left.
A shark cage allowed swimmers up close to a bunch of grey nurse sharks that arrived for a feed. With no teeth and almost no sight they sense their food by vibrations in the water. They sucked in fish morsels with a snap.
We rode the falls as the tide rushed out and later we returned for more thrills when the sea rushed back in. If we'd timed our visit to Derby when there were king tides, there would have been no trip to the falls as 11m rises and drops make navigating the gaps too dangerous.
As we prepared to leave so too did most of the large and polished team who'd made our magical day possible. In a way, the day did reveal a secret. Even the shiniest brochures could never capture the unique views and thrilling experiences of the day.