Saturday, July 7, 2018

The North East Coast

By Jen.

We continued our journey to the Far North of the North Island. We visited another flooded town in the Bay of Islands. This one’s claim to fame is a public toilet designed by the architect, Hundertwasser.

C43_NZ NI Hundertwasser Toilet_2018-06-02_DSCN0726

P05_NZ NI Hundertwasser Toilet_2018-06-02_JML_IMG_20180603_114139
It was pretty cool, but the tiles are pretty slick when wet.

C44_NZ NI Hundertwasser Toilet_2018-06-02_DSCN0727

C38_NZ NI Hundertwasser Toilet_2018-06-02_DSCN0721

We made our way to Paihia, but with the recent rains, the bay water looked pretty muddy.

C49_NZ NI Paihia_2018-06-02_DSCN0732

We made a stop at St Paul’s Church, which stands at the site of NZ’s first church. This newer church is a beautiful building with some fun stained glass.

C54_NZ NI St Paul's Anglican Church_2018-06-02_DSCN0737

C61_NZ NI St Paul's Anglican Church_2018-06-02_DSCN0744

C63_NZ NI St Paul's Anglican Church_2018-06-02_DSCN0746

Nearby was the Haruharu Falls, which normally you can kayak under. Not today!

P06_NZ NI Haruru Falls_2018-06-02_JML_IMG_20180603_140105

Nearby was Kerikeri.

C74_NZ NI Kerikeri Stone Store_2018-06-02_DSCN0757
This the Stone Store. It is NZ’s oldest stone building (1836).

Leaving the Bay of Islands area, we continued further north.

P08_NZ NI Matauri Bay_2018-06-03_JML_IMG_20180604_101200
First off was Matauri Bay.

P01_NZ NI Matauri Bay_2018-06-03_Jen_IMG_20180604_103311

P02_NZ NI Piapia Bay_2018-06-03_Jen_IMG_20180604_103753
Piapia Bay.

P03_NZ NI Tauranga Bay_2018-06-03_Jen_IMG_20180604_113445
Tauranga Bay.

C11_NZ NI St Paul's Rock_2018-06-03_DSCN0771
St Paul’s Rock.

We finally reached the northernmost peninsula on NZ, the Far North. Our first stop after fueling up was Gumdiggers Park. This is kinda an outdoor museum of the industry of kauri gum. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, this swampy land was dry enough to support kauri forests. At least twice in history, a cataclysmic event knocked over these trees and buried them. Now the swampy land preserves the wood and gum that was buried. And people used to dig the gum up for trade. In more recent times, they were used for making resins.

C13_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0773
But first, an Auckland green gecko.

C16_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0776
They are amazingly hard to find.

C19_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0779
A rough way to live in this enviroment!

C23_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0783
Sometimes it was a bit like panning for gold.

C29_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0789
A gum-washing machine.

C35_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0795
They would dig holes along the trunks of fallen trees to find the roots, where the most gum was located.

C40_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0800
This massive root structure belongs to a tree that is approximately 14 meters in girth. The wood has been tested to be around 100,000-150,000 years old, possibly the oldest non-fossilized wood found on earth.

C42_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0802
That vertical wood there is a more recent (45000 years ago) tree that grew up over the remnants of the earlier one.

P09_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_JML_IMG_20180604_151233
In 2011, they unearthed this beauty, which is from 150,000 years ago.

C62_NZ NI Gumdiggers Park_2018-06-03_DSCN0822
At least all this rain provides plenty of rainbows.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Along the Coast

A nearby park had another large Kauri, so we dropped by to stand in its shadow.

C01_NZ NI Parry Kauri Park_2018-05-31_DSCN0641
P1_NZ Karry Kauri Park_2018-06-01_JML_IMG_20180601_105955
C03_NZ NI Parry Kauri Park_2018-05-31_DSCN0643

With the seemingly ceaseless rain and clouds, we did our best to get out of the van whenever possible.  A stop at a garden in an abandoned quarry was next up.

C26_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0680
C29_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0683C06_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0660
C11_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0665
C13_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0667
C14_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0668
C16_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0670
C22_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0676
C24_NZ NI Whangarei Quarry Gardens_2018-06-01_DSCN0678

We drove towards the coast in the Bay of Islands area, and found a nearly empty coastal campground for the night.  With all the shielded areas taken, we slept with the wind rocking the van, and torrential downpours throughout the night.

The next morning we went to fill up our water tank.  After a small trickle the water stopped!  In fact all the taps and faucets were dry.  Apparently the power was out, and would remain that way for some time…

On the way inland to the main highway, we encountered some flooding.  Rapidly receding, it would likely be gone by sunset.

C02_NZ NI Flooding_2018-06-02_DSCN0685
Only a few half submerged cars…
C01_NZ NI Flooding_2018-06-02_DSCN0684

With the speed of the water, I figured I should walk this section to make sure no submerged obstacles waited  in the murky depths.

C04_NZ NI Flooding_2018-06-02_DSCN0687

Thankfully it was only knee deep, although it was waist deep an hour earlier.
C05_NZ NI Flooding_2018-06-02_DSCN0688

Our next stop was a Ruapekapeka Pa.  Pa are fortified villages built by Maori tribes in strategic locations.  With centuries of inter-tribal warfare, they were pretty good at it by the time the Europeans arrived.

C17_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0700

This pa was the site of a battle between British colonial soldiers and the Maori resistance.  The government abused its power to take land and concessions from the Maori.  Various tribes took positions with or against the Crown depending on their previous alliances.  The poorly equipped British traveled long distances across roadless forests to this Pa in order to defeat and capture the chief who was seen as a dissident leader.  Despite eventually overwhelming the Pa defenders during their morning prayers, most escaped into the forest to fight another day.  This is pretty amazing considering they were far outnumbered and outgunned.

C26_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0709
The secret to their success was a excellent defense with tunnels to protect from bombardment, extensive earthworks (dug by hand over 6 months).  In addition palisades several layers thick and trenches prevented frontal attack.
C27_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0710

C21_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0704
C22_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0705

The recent rain turned the centuries old trenches and tunnels into ponds.
C23_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0706

C31_NZ NI Ruapekapeka Pa_2018-06-02_DSCN0714

Friday, June 22, 2018

Tiritiri Matangi Island

By Jen.

As we were researching the North Island attractions, we discovered that it also has a bird-sanctuary island that is similar to Stewart Island’s Ulva Island. With a chance to see some birds I hadn’t seen yet as well as kiwi, Jonathan and I decided to head over and spend the night at the island’s well-equipped bunkhouse. We rode the ferry to the island and as we walked up the road to the visitor centre, we were greeted by many birds.

Red-crested parakeets, actually in the sunlight so I could get a good photo.


A whitehead, which I think is the more-common, North-Island relative of the yellowhead.

A bellbird.

A young takahe.

From the visitor centre, you can see Rangitoto and Auckland, which we visited when we first arrived in New Zealand.

A tui in bright sunlight!


At the visitor centre, they had a display of the largest wetas and their feces! These ladies are at least 3 inches long!

A tui in a beautiful, flowering native tree.

The Little Barrier Island.

The Great Barrier Island. These were named by Captain Cook, who didn’t have very much naming creativity.

The day was pleasant and the island beautiful.


A good close-up of a male saddleback!


We even saw a kokako in the wild!

Can you see it eating a leaf? That is what they eat, but it sure looks bizarre, doesn’t it?

That evening, we went searching for kiwi, but were unsuccessful. We did manage to startle a bird hiding in some flax on a cliff. It made very strange noises. We had no idea what it was at first, but after some research  we found out it was likely a grey-faced petrel.

A North Island robin.

An introduced quail.



We actually saw the secretive fernbird. This little guy almost seemed like a mouse darting through the grass. We could only track its movements by watching how the grass moved as it passed under it!


A stitchbird in the wild!

After we saw the weka carcasses in the visitor centre, we had been searching for some large wekas. Finally right before we were catching the ferry back to the van, someone spotted one and told us about it. Sadly, it was only a male, so not as big as it could be. But, it was still pretty cool.