08.07.2010 16 °C
A week at a glance: July 5-10
It is amazing how quickly a week goes by when you are having fun. Finding internet access has been, as the Kiwis would say, “dodgy as”. This week it looks like a recap of the whole week is going to be our best bet at posting to the blog, so here is a week in the life of the Allores in review.
On Monday we headed across the car ferry from Opua to go to the town of Paihia to view the very historically significant Waitangei Treaty Grounds. This was the location in New Zealand where the Maori signed a treaty in 1840 with a representative of the British government to agree that, in return for protection, the Maori would give authority of governance to the British. The treaty was explained to us as an agreement between two peoples to live and work together in one nation. It guarantees the rights of Maori and non-Maori citizens in New Zealand. Although there is controversy in NZ over the finer points of the treaty, we can see evidence of the integration of the Maori culture into the mainstream of New Zealand culture everywhere. This is not just in the typical souvenir items found in the typical souvenir shops. Maori as a language and also a culture is taught in schools. In communities all over NZ there are Marie (Maori meeting houses) that are integrated into the community just like churches are scattered through our communities in Canada. These meeting houses are used extensively by the Maori people in the various communities.
Tuesday we had a very early start at 7:00am and a ride on a passenger ferry from the docks right in Russell where we are staying, to Paihia where, at 7:30am, we caught a bus for a tour of the far north peninsula of NZ. It was recommended to us that we take the bus tour rather than drive ourselves. Once on the road we were VERY glad that we did! The roads are very narrow and winding. It is also a very long drive all the way to the northern tip of NZ. On the bus we could sit back, relax and just take in the view. Yes, some gravol was necessary for both Claire and Gwen.
The tour took us first to 90 mile beach. This beach is literally 90 miles long. Absolutely amazing to see.
The bus actually drove along the beach. Here, the beach is treated somewhat like another road.....mind you, only people very familiar with the beach and tides would be crazy enough to drive along the beach with a car. Along the beach we were able to take in the sight of wild horses enjoying the freedom of a huge beach to run on (reminded us of the movie Black Stallion), seals sitting on the sand sunning, and also had the opportunity to do some dune boarding. What a blast!! The bus drove up a river bed to the base of some huge sand dunes. We then grabbed a sand-boarding board from the back of the tour bus and headed up the dune. It is hard work hiking up a sand dune...then, once at the top, the concept of sliding down the huge dune on your tummy seems rather nerve wracking. BUT we all mustered up our courage and, as they say here in NZ, ‘gave it a go’. At first it is just sheer fear that you feel but then the adrenaline thrill kicks in. Of course you get absolutely covered in sand!!
All this exercise created quite the appetite in us. The tour bus pulled into a small conservation area and we were able to have an outdoor picnic while looking out on some amazing views.
Picnic Lunch; 90 Mile Beach
At the very tip of NZ is Cape Reinga....the northern most point that you can drive to in NZ. It is also the point where you can see the meeting of the Tasman Sea and The South Pacific Ocean. In this picture below you can see the white waves in the water....this is the actual meeting places of these two bodies of water.
Our day on the bus tour ended with some very delicious fish and chips at the Mangonui Fish Shop-- a small shop that serves battered fish that was caught that very same day. Can’t beat that for flavour!!
As you can imagine, Tuesday night we feel into bed very tired from a great day out exploring the North Cape of NZ.
Wednesday was a tramping day. The word tramping in NZ means hiking. “Doing a tramp”, means to “go for a hike”. From our Bach in Russell we drove south to Whangarie to hike through some caves to see some stalagmites and stalactites. With torches (yup...the Kiwi term for flashlights) in hand we headed down into the cave. Due to the high water levels in the cave and our lack of desire to swim or wade through very cold water, we were not able to walk very far into the caves. Never the less, it was interesting to see the inside of the caves. Even saw a few glow worms!!
Thursday was another tramp day. This time it was a 10km hike to the Haruru Falls just outside of the town of Paihia. On this hike we were able to walk through an estuary that contained Mangrove trees. Very interesting trees!! The seeds of the mangrove tree germinate before they fall to the ground. When the seeds fall to the ground they then form a root system that spreads out horizontally rather than going down vertically into the ground. These trees grow best in 0.5 meters (yes a very precise amount) of water, thus the reason why they grow very well in tidal plains. After a stroll through the mangroves, our tramp continued to a halfway point of some waterfalls. These are claimed to be the only horseshoe shaped waterfalls in NZ. Although a great place to stop and enjoy some lunch, Niagara Falls has these falls beat hands down!! After the completion of the hike, Gwen, Ayden, Claire and I went to the bank, got our EFTPOS cards (debit cards), and set up money for our trip to Australia. We are now liquid and ready to travel.
You would think that would be then end of our excitement for the day...well you would be wrong. After some BBQ burgers back at the Bach we headed down to the wharf in Russell at about 7:30PM (it gets dark here at about 6:00pm) to do some night fishing for snapper. One of Jenn’s colleagues is staying in Russell at his Bach and was kind enough to show us the ropes of night fishing. Although the fish were biting, nothing was caught. With fish smelling hands we headed back to the Bach to once again fall into bed tired but happy from another full day of experiencing the outdoors in NZ.
Friday July 9th was our Dolphin and Hole in the Rock boat tour. The weather was beautiful as we tracked dolphins and watched a few adventurous people try to swim with them. They didn’t have much luck, but at least they tried. We reached the “Hole in the Rock” and had our boat pass through the hole. You can see a video I’ve included for the experience yourself. There were many photo ops and it is hard to decide which should be included in the blog.
Can't seem to upload video. Will try later.
What Is It?
Thanks to all of you who responded to the What Is It portion of the blog. It looks like last time Michelle gets the full four points, Justin 3, Bburk 2, froghouse and Lynn get 1 each. Since it was only a practice round, no one actually gets any points. So here is the next one and where the real points start.
We used this twice after dark near the “Hell-Hole of the Pacific”. These are not my words, but those of the locals. Be specific.
Note: Emails are not coming through at the moment, but will respond when we can.