Kia ora, pai ana ki te kite ano i a koe. (Hi, nice to see you again.)
Last Monday we did visit Cape Reinga, which is the northern most point in New Zealand. As you would expect where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, there is a lighthouse warning ships away from the hazardous seas.
Well, it's not a huge lighthouse, but it is very high on a bluff, so it can be seen for quite a distance over the water.
This was about a 200 km trip there and back, so it took a good bit of the day to do it. We also made several stops along the way to see other sights...one of which is these giant sand dunes where people can "sand surf" from the top to the bottom...we didn't do that, but there were a few people enjoying the activity when we were there.
On Tuesday, we left the east coast of the North Island and traveled across to the west coast to visit Tane Mahuta, the largest known living kauri tree, a Kauri Forest and the Kauri Museum. Tane Mahuta is 51.5 meters tall and has measures 13.8 meters around the trunk. I have some pictures, but they don't really do it justice. Suffice it to say that it is an impressive tree.
The drive through the Kauri Forest was fantastic. It's almost like a rain-forest in that it is unbelievably green. The vegetation comes right down to the edge twisty, windy road.
That's the road there on the left twisting around the corner...and those silver tree fern are everywhere...
We spent a couple of hours at the Kauri Museum where they had lots of exhibits on the logging of the kauri trees and the harvesting of kauri gum. It is hard to believe that those people were able to cut down one of those trees, cut it up into enormous logs, and haul those logs out of the woods and to a sawmill using mostly hand tools and muscle power. Then we traveled back to the east coast and spent the night at Pakiri Beach, a tiny settlement with just one caravan park...and not much else! We did spot a nice family of wild turkeys on the way out of town the next day.
Following that, we spent a couple of days on the Coromandel Peninsula, just to the south and east of Auckland. We stayed in Thames (yes, it is pronounced just as the river of the same name in the UK), at the base of the peninsula and did our touring from there. One fun thing we did at Thames was to visit the bird hide (we'd call it a blind in the US). It was right on the edge of town, in amongst some mangroves, and had a great view of some tidal flats. Our first visit was at a mid to low tide, so the shoreline was a ways out...but we were amazed to see some 58,796 pied oyster-catchers enjoying themselves at the waters edge. We'd never seen so many. There were a couple thousand stilts and a few godwits, plus the odd white-faced heron. There's one now...
And there's some of the oyster-catchers...
We went back several times when the tide was higher and the birds were right outside the bird hide. There were not as many, only a few hundred, but they were very close in and quite interesting to watch.
We spent a couple of days on the Coromandel and we are now in Rotorua. Last night we visited a Maori cultural show and had a hangi dinner...
Today it rained so we went to a museum...tomorrow, our adventure continues...
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