Hair cut and Camera!
Our week started off with some more errands and shopping. I got an overdue haircut, wrote up the previous blog, and we bought a new camera. Our Canon PowerShot zoom lens motor was dying and unpredictable. Since we have really enjoyed our PowerShot, we got another one almost identical but with a few more bells and whistles.
Wednesday & Thursday, December 8 & 9, 2010
Lions in Red Beach. Sula in Gulf Harbor.
Finally, we said goodbye to our first little campground and started our journey north up Highway 1 to Red Beach and Gulf Harbor. Our friends Herb and Betty on Sula are in the marina there. We hadn't seen them since Tahiti in late July and were looking forward to a reunion.
We found a lovely little campground called Pinewoods Motor Camp not far the Harbor. We noticed as we were checking in that the local Lion's Club was selling Christmas Cakes as a fundraiser. Russ inquired about the Lion's Club, and it turned out that one of the ladies who was working in the office, Mary, was married to a Lion's club member. Within just a few minutes after setting up our camp and fixing lunch, we received a visit from a very nice Lion Member Ian (Chalky) White, Executive Management Committee for NZ Lions Club. He welcomed us to NZ and gave us the names and contact information of some other Lions in NZ who also have bed and breakfast accommodations.
We took a walk around the campground. It was a very tidy and well kept facility by owners Stephan & Shirley Green. Most of the sites are little mini-cabins, called baches (short for bachelor pads). Many residents live year-round in their baches, vacating a few weeks each year so that the campground can maintain its license to be a tourist resident park. Apparently, if the park were considered a full-time residency development, it would be recategorized as permanent residency land and the taxes would shoot up increasing the day rates beyond what most people could afford.
As we enjoyed our walk
through the local surroundings, we noticed a beautiful large tree with bottle-brush like blooms. Shirley told us this was the Pohutukawa tree (Christmas Tree) which is a protected native tree in New Zealand.
We met up with our friends Herb and Betty on Wednesday afternoon and had a great time going out to a Mexican restaurant and catching up with them. Thursday, we hung out and took some nice walks. We made arrangements with the owners to return to PinewoodDecember 24-26, and will be going out to dinner on Christmas Eve with them and Lion Chalky and his wife Mary. We'll spend December 25 and 26 with cruising friends in Gulf Harbor.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Magnificent Kauri Trees, Amber, and Great Museum
We left Pinewood on Friday morning and headed toward the north east, the Tasmin side of the island. The Kauri Museum in Matakohe was high on our lists of must sees, and we were not disappointed. What a beautifully designed and lovely museum with re-created cabins,
log mills, and rooms from lovely family homes.
The mannequins alone were the price of admission. They were incredibly lifelike.
I understand that the mannequins are made out of the same porcelain like material that dentures and caps are made out of. It would be nice to see some of our state parks in California develop a similar mannequin technique to honor early California descendants. The artist here utilized old photographs, a casting of a look similar descendant, and occasionally a bust of a person to develop his cast and molding. He used his own hands as hand models for gripping tools, sewing needles, etc..
Displays of Kauri furniture and the amber "gum" mined by gum diggers from the trees were wonderful.
Similar to California Redwoods, however, the harvesting of these trees without replacement, soon denuded the hills clearing the area for farming but destroying precious forest habitat.
Nowadays, the only Kauri that is used in the production of furniture, picture frames, and objects of art, come from swamp Kauri, some as old as 8,000 years old. Kauri can no longer be timbered or scavenged from a fallen tree. Farmers have uncovered Kauri in swamp lands that is buried and preserved. This is the only useable Kauri today.
We spent far more time at the museum than we intended and decided to stay overnight at the little campground at the end of the road. The camp site had once been a member of the Top 10 association, but was now a member of Kiwi Camp Association. We are now members of both. While we were at this campsite, we met a young German couple, Ursula and Jorge.
When we asked them where they were from in Germany, they said from the south between Stuttgart and Munich. It's the same kind of answer we give when we tell people we live between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe because it is unlikely they would know where Colfax is. Turns out that after a few more questions, they told us they were from Ulm, where we used to live! The world just keeps getting smaller.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Kiwi night walk in the Kauri forest.
On Satuday morning, we got an early start heading toward the Waipoua Forest. We had read in one of our guide books that we could go on a guided Kiwi walk in the Trounson recreation area if we made reservations in advance. We called before leaving the Matakohe camp ground and were the first to sign up. Once our walk reservations were made by phone, we followed along in the camper arriving just after lunch at our first Top Ten park. We joined that too. I think we belong to all of them now!
We spent the afternoon reading, napping, doing laundry, and in between playing on a zip line set up along the river.
|Kiwi in a case|
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Ti Kouka Bed and Breakfast
On Sunday morning, Russ called the contacts given to us by Chalky in Red Beach. Maria and George are both Lions. They own a lovely home with gardens and a single bed and breakfast unit in Omapere on Hokianga Bay on the Tasman Sea. We called and reserved the B & B for two nights.
As we drove the coastal road through the Waipou Forest to Hokianga, we took several walks to see the Father of the Forest (widest girth Kauri tree), and the God of the Forest (tallest Kauri tree). Truly magnificent.
|Preventing soil contamination and the death of Kauri Trees|
|Father of the Forest|
|God of the Forest|
A quick trip into Omapere yielded us a couple bottles of red wine, lamb cutlets marinated in rosemary and mint, Kumera (sweet potato) and a beautiful egg plant. We also found a unique bag of potato chips…..Lamb and mint flavored!
|New Zealand Morning Commute|
Monday, December 13, 2010
Tide pooling on one side of the bay and dune bugging on the other.
The tide was low at 9:30 a.m. and it was perfect for tide pooling along the shore of Hokianga just below Ti Kouka. We climbed down stairs that George had built from the gardens down to the beach, and meandered for a mile or two enjoying the clear blue sky, water, and nature's art work everywhere we looked.
We returned to Ti Kouka, freshened up a bit, and went into Omapere where we had made arrangements to take a water taxi across the bay to the sand dunes where we were to meet Andrew, proprietor of Sandtrails and take a ride in his dune buggy. Andrew is a Maori whose ancestors were the first to come to New Zealand to Hokianga.
He told us several stories of his people and shared with us some magical places in the dunes where the wind and sand have sculpted the earth.
The eastern side of the bay is completely different than the western side of the bay, both beautiful.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Ferry across Hokianga and Fierce Mosquitoes
Once again, we were on the road heading north and thankful we had such beautiful weather the day before to do our land exploring. Tuesday was cloudy with the expectation of rain.
We drove through picturesque little towns, took a ferry across the mid-section of the Hokianga Bay, and wound up in a little campground in Waitiki. The mosquitoes were everywhere and we spent most of the night swatting at them as they hummed around our ears.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach
|The lighthouse is out here somewhere...right?|
|Yes, we see it!|
|Pacific and Tasman Meet With a Frenzy|
|After 10 minutes the fog rolls back in|
After our sight seeing at the Cape, we headed southwest to where the sand dunes meet 90 mile beach. We took a lovely walk through the delta that meanders through the base of the dunes. We dipped our toes in the Tasman sea and made our way back to our car.
|Delta Meets the Sea on 90 Mile Beach|
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with Rose and Dave and their son Tiua, a Maori family who are the guardians of the spirit trail and proprietors of the sand surfing business Ahikaa Adventures at the base of the dunes.
|Dave 'N Rose N' Tiua - Guardians of the Spirit Trail|
Thursday & Friday, December 16 & 17, 2010
Rain, rain go away!
Now that we had accomplished our northern most excursions, we headed south. We returned to Kaitaia, a little city, where we knew we could get some screens for our van windows and resupply on a few groceries. We headed back to the East coast, had some fish and chips in a harbor town of Mangonui and spent two nights in the Matauri Bay Camp Ground where we tried to stay dry as the rain drizzled, dripped, and dumped.
|Shell Strewn Beach|
|The Sun Peeks out for a Moment!|
|Rainbow Warrior Monument|
While we were in the campground, we met a nice couple from England, Carolyn and Simon who are former dairy farmers, now in the business of building leisure activities. They are in the process of developing an 18 hole golf course and have some other enterprises as well. Someday when we get to England, we hope to stop by and see them.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Keri Keri - Oldest stone building, Oldest wooden house
We left the campground in yet another rain storm and headed to the little town of Keri Keri. It was a lovely little tourist town where we found a wonderful gluten and wheat free cafe. The food was excellent. What a treat!
|First Stone House|
|First Wood House - hand hewn|
|Re-created Maori Shelters|
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Famous Public Toilets
After our pitstop in Kawa Kawa, we went to the marina in Opua and looked up our friends Gene and Gloria. They were getting their boat ready to store on a mooring and then start on their road trip south. We invited them to our campground for a bar-b-que, but first we had to find a campground where we had a covered area to get out of the rain.
Not far from the Marina, we found a campground that fit the bill. We spent a nice evening catching up. We will see them again over the Christmas Holidays at the Pinewood camp when we celebrate the holidays with other cruising friends.
We have now been in New Zealand for three weeks! The time is moving quickly. We hope that the rain lets up so that we can do some more outdoor activites, including a boat trip through the Bay of Islands.
Happy Holidays!This will probably be the last blog until after the holidays! Hope you all have a wonderful season and a Happy New Year! We miss you. With love, the 2 Sail R's, Roz and Russ