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|Touring New Zealand 2004 - part 10|
Once Largesse was safely moored after our sailing, we took the ferry from Bayswater to downtown Auckland to pick up the campervan from Rental Car Village for the rest of the holiday. They did us proud with a low mileage Toyota Townace automatic with air-conditioning and even a CD player. We were glad of the automatic and air-conditioning on the return trip to Bayswater marina to pick up all the kit from Largesse as it was rush hour on a Friday afternoon by the time we had unloaded everything into the van and cleaned up.
We stayed with Christine overnight and by the time we had packed the sailing kit and loaded our camping kit from our boxes in her garage it was early afternoon so we did not get very far. We stopped at a campsite and backpackers at Whangarei Falls. We had visited the falls on previous visits as they make a good picnic spot and are quite spectacular and had noted there was a campsite nearby. The site turned out to be very good and we will undoubtedly use it again as it is an ideal distance from Auckland for an early stop. It was a small family run site only capable of taking a maximum of 100 people and even in peak periods they try to keep it down to 65-80. We got a very small cabin for $36, they call them kennels, but even so it had a kettle and toaster. We looked at their kitchen cabins for the future that offered excellent value at $42 with fridge and full cooking facilities as well as a huge amount of space - being a Saturday night they had all been booked. The site had several free barbeques, swimming pool, spa pool and a big library and lounge with comfortable chairs and even a couple of internet terminals. Lavender and Rosemary bushes separate the tent sites and their cats stroll round the sites looking for attention as much as food, one settled happily on it's back on Pauline.
We then headed North with no particular plans where to go. We stopped at Opua where the ferry goes to Russell and where we charter when sailing in the Bay of Islands. There is an excellent old-fashioned store that sells big scoops of ice cream as well as charts, fishing gear and any provisions one can think of. We ended up not only replacing the sabiki (multiple fishing hooks made up to look like lures so they will work even without bait) that were tired after all the work they had done but also buying an eight foot telescopic Jarvis Walker fishing rod complete with reel for $66. Jarvis Walker are at the cheap end but we have had 6 and 8 years use out of our existing rods but one reel has already been replaced and the other was not going to last another season so it was time to change. They telescopic rod should be very convenient and will greatly increase the chances of on the spur of the moment fishing if we leave a lure or hook and weight attached. In any case fishing is not only about catching fish, which can be done with a $5 hand line, but about collecting gear just like photography, hifi, computers and most other hobbies.
It was then on to Paihia to do some shopping for presents on our return and get a film processed onto CD. We sent some time talking to someone from the T Tucker Thompson, a square rigger they operate for day trips out of the Bay - we have often seen her and moored in the same bays at lunch time but had not realised that, like the Soren Larson, did more extended trips including at least one a round the world trip. The next stops were at roadside stalls round Kerikeri, the heart of the fruit growing region. We bought a 5 kilogram bag of spray free oranges for $5 - they turned out to be the most succulent yet and almost entirely free of pips. Another stall provided a similar size bag of seconds (because they were small) new season apples for 99 cents - last year they same stall had provided a huge box of mixed seconds for a few dollars which kept us, and many others at camp sites, in fruit for weeks.
We passed the Stone Store at Kerikeri, which was the first stone built building in New Zealand in 1821 and was owned by the missionaries for the first 6 years before becoming a general store. We saw it when it was still open as a store a good few year's back, since which it has been closed for a major renovation by the Trust. It is full of fascinating bits of information and details of the renovation/reconstruction round the building and many of the historic documents are available to read upstairs. They are also trying to obtain and display the typical goods sold when it was a trading post such as muskets, nails and rope. They are also selling typical goods where they can obtain them such as various historic style nails - we did not enquire the price of the muskets last visit. Next door is the Kemp house, another trust building which we have visited on previous visits.
Last year we had looked at a campsite at Tauranga Bay and noted it as a good place to stay so we thought we would try it out. We got a big cabin right above the beach with full cooking facilities and a big fridge for $40 a night and when we had seen it went back and booked a second night and then a third. Right below the site is a long sweeping beach of golden sands that is safe for swimming but also offers the possibility of surfcasting or fishing off the rocks at either end. We spent the day relaxing, reading and watching the lines from the new rod, which seems to cast very well, and from our big surfcasting rod. We never saw a sign of fish but it did not seem to matter and, in any case, we still have frozen fish left from that caught whilst sailing. It is one of the best placed camp sites we have found with not only the magnificent empty beach right in front but also excellent views out to Stevenson Island and round the coast to the entry to Whangaroa Harbour. One can watch all the game fishing boats going out and sometimes returning flying the various pennants to proclaim the have caught a marlin or outer game fish.
We spent the second day at Tauranga Bay we went out for a tour round the area, the first priority being to go to Mangonui. Mangonui is a pleasant fishing village but now full of tourist shops and house agents. It does have however have a fabled fish and chip shop that also sells fresh fish. It was as good as ever the fish of the day was Bluenose a fish that has only recently been fished commercially - you select the pieces you want and they weigh and cook them. They are absolutely fresh, you can watch them being gutted, filleted and passed straight through to the counter.
We stopped in Kaeo at a small local museum to look round - there were a number of interesting pictures of the area during the days of kauri logging showing how the logs were rafted up in the Whangaroa harbour. There were also some graphic details of the Boyd incident, including an account by the captain of the ship that rescued the only 4 survivors. The account he sent back detailing the incident does not seem to have suffered from revisions or editing to achieve political correctness as have so many museum have been forced to do these days. For those who have not heard of the Boyd it was a medium size sailing ship which was probably the first to enter the Whangaroa harbour in the early 1800 hundreds, 1809 if I recall correctly. A number of the local Maori, including chiefs were aboard and after what was interpreted as a slight by the captain to one of the chiefs almost the whole crew were killed without warning. A few escaped up into the rigging and were persuaded to set the sails, however there obedience was not considered sufficient and most were also put to death shortly after they descended, others of the small number of survivors were killed a few weeks later having watched most of their friends being eaten. The ship was moved up the harbour and set on fire, probably by accident. The cabin boy, a lady and two others survived and were rescued by the writer of the account in the museum and taken on to Lima on his ship. Various relics are on display as well as more history of the survivors.
We decided to then return via the scenic drive along the coast past Matauri Bay that has a campsite we have stayed at in the past and also moored off whilst sailing. At one end of the campsite there is a Waka, the traditional Maori war and inter-island canoe has been under renovation. The other end has a hill with good views out over the Cavalli Islands and a memorial to the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship sunk by underwater explosives in Auckland by what turned out to be French Government agents when she was interfering with the French Nuclear tests in the Pacific. Some of the Crew were killed and the ship was beyond repair so she was towed to the Cavalli Islands, almost opposite the camping site and sunk at the edge of a new Marine park where she now provides a popular site for divers.
Eventually we had to move on and our first stop the next day was at Kaiatai where we were searching for a stake for our surfcaster. We had borrowed an excellent one made out of angle iron with a bracket to allow one to push it into the sand with one foot and rings for the rod. We had only seen small ones but eventually found one in a fishing shop where we found they are made by Jarvis Walker, like much of our gear, and was therefore much more reasonably priced at $21 than we had feared. We latter found they sell a similar one in the Warehouse where we also bought a landing net having lost a couple of nice Kahawai whilst sailing. The large landing net from a reputable manufacturer was only $14.95. The Warehouse with it's advertising slogan, "where everyone gets a bargain" needs to be used with some care but one can get some incredible deals especially on end of line/season items - Pete got a pair of all leather trainers earlier in the year for $25 and a pair of black leather shoes, leather lined, for $19.95 and Pauline picked up some trainers for $6.95. The duvet we have been using for camping for the last three or four years was another bargain at under $30 at a Warehouse in Auckland.
We decided this year not to go to the far North but to investigate the Hokianga harbour area that we have been through but never stayed. We deviated from main roads and took the ferry across the harbour from Rawene that cuts off a big corner. It runs every hour, on the hour and at $14 plus $2 for each additional passenger it not only saves time but arguably money. When we left there were a number of Maori fishing off the landing stage and they were just starting to bring in Snapper - they obviously had great expectations as they had 20 litre containers and were bringing down ice to pack them. After some active discussion Pete was dragged into the car and onto the ferry instead of joining in.
We stayed at the Opononi Holiday Park - we had rung ahead and booked a standard cabin as they only have two but when we arrived we were seduced into an upgrade to one of the luxurious kitchen cabins because of the stunning views out over the camp to the harbour: well worth the extra $12, and we also decided to stay for an extra day. Unfortunately the cloud so low that we could not see the tops of the spectacular sand dunes opposite to us. We could however clearly see the seas breaking on the bar at the harbour entry in the distance - the for ever shifting sandbar destroyed brought many ships to grief and caused many deaths in the old days when there were busy ports for the Kauri trade, now only small boats venture in. The stone walls along the seafront at Opononi were made from the rock ballast carried by sailing ships from Sydney that carried convicts. It has a small wharf and an excellent local store where we stocked up with meat and ice cream.
After our supper, accompanied by local Maori potato bread (Rarawa) we sat watching the goats mowing the site and finally a fine sunset as the cloud started to rise and break up. We were reading "Ghost Towns of New Zealand" by David McGill published by AH & AW Reed 1980 ISBN 0 589 01269 X - a book that tells the tale, from the pioneering pillage of whales, gold, kauri, gum and coal to the final decline and death of what were once prosperous industries and towns. It covered some of the small ports in the harbour that were used for milling and exporting kauri and in some cases building boats.
We started the day at the Hokianga Historical Society's Omapere Museum that has an impressive collection of pictures, binders and documents about the area. Long talk with one of the volunteers on wide ranging topics, not all concerned with the museum. After an hour looking round and talking we felt obliged to move on and spent a couple of hours fishing off the long wharf at Omapere. We caught some fresh bait with a tiny sabiki (set of hooks with tiny lures on each hook) and fed most of it back with little result other than a couple of undersized snapper, even so it was a relaxing way of spending part of a lovely morning and there was a continuous stream of interested and interesting people to talk to.
It was then time to go and do a walk at the South Head. According to tradition the rocky headland is called Aria-te-uru and the harbour Niua, after the names of two taniwha (sea monsters) that Kupe, the first to travel to Aoteoroa from his pacific home of Hawaiki. The taniwha guided the two waka Ngatokimatawhaorua and Mamiri that Kupe sent back to this place. Their assistance is often called on by waka entering the harbour. Ships had a different assistance a signal station originally set up by John Martin in 1838. His flagstaff held a series of flags which told ships whether it was safe to cross the bar, the state of the tide and which direction to take to come in safely. We did not realise until we got there how far out from the headlands the bar was, it was two miles out. Once ships had crossed the bar John Martin and succeeding pilots, would go down to their dingy and row out to guide them in safely to their anchorage. The system of flags was eventually replaced by a series of disks, common to all ports, in 1867. The use of the harbour peaked at the turn of last century and the signal system was in use until 1951.
The bar was first charted by Kendall, the missionary, in 1819, opening up the harbour for the first ships for the potential Kauri trade he had identified and, of course, the setting up of a missionary station on the opposite coast to the Bay of Islands. The size of the Kauri trade can be judged from the fact that one mill alone at Kohukohu employed 5000 people and produced 6 million feet annually - it was finally closed because of fears the sawdust was encroaching into the harbour and would block the channel!
It was also to Hokianga Harbour that the Frenchman De Thierry came to set up his little kingdom. The fear of the French was one factor in the eventual capitulation of the Crown, who did not really want to be involved in New Zealand, and the Treaty of Waitangi.
We then went to see a set of boulders, somewhat similar to their more famous cousins at Moeraki. These spherical boulders were formed long in the past and are being released onto the beach by erosion of the land. We had heard about them at the museum and had directions how to get to them but there were no signs and we went down many gravel side roads before we located finally located them. Firstly you can only see them at low tide. For reference if one takes the main road from Opononi East and turns left onto the Koutu Loop road and then travels 3.5 Kms (1 km from where it turns to gravel) and turns left onto the Waione Road. After 0.2 kms down the Waione Road there is a view of the sea and some parking on rough grass on the left. Park and walk to the sea at low tide and you will see rocks and boulders to the right. After a few minutes walk you will start to find the round boulders you are looking for on the mud flats and after a further short walk there are some larger ones, perhaps 1.5 meters in diameter, and some emerging from where the low earth bank is being eroded by the sea.
We continued on to Rawene ('sun setting') to look round the harbour township that was New Zealand's third oldest Pakeha settlement and was the traditional 'capital' of Hokianga. Rawene is the site of the Clendon House, a fine kauri homestead, which is owned by the Historic Places Trust. It is only open Saturday, Sundays and Monday in the summer, but we could look round the outside. The 1860's house was built in Rawene as the final home of on of New Zealand's earliest traders and ship-owners. James Clendon was a witness to the treaty of Waitangi in 1840, a member of the first Legislative Council and a magistrate. His wife Jane, a Maori, inherited his tremendous debts but managed to keep the house and contents together and it remained in the family for 100 years. The house contains many items from the Clendon family collection.
On the way back we stopped at a small nursery which sold trees to pick up a suitable native for Christine's collection, we chose a Kowhai which we were assured would provide a big yellow spread of bloom in the spring, even when confined to pot. We got talking to the owners and admired their grape vines growing all down the sides of the plants and round their house. They told us that have built up a collection of early varieties including a vine originating from the original vine brought by Bishop Pompallier when he first came to New Zealand and was based in the Hokianga area before moving to the Bay of Islands. We were allowed to sample all the grapes and given a couple of bunches from Pompallier vine to take away with us.
Bishop Pompallier's first mission was sited close to Rawene on 6 acres of land contributed by the catholic settler Thomas Poynton in 1838. The site was unsuitable and he moved shortly to a 100-acre site he bought in Purakau on the Northern shore of the Hokianga and the mission lasted there in the twentieth century. He finally set up his headquarters in Kororareka (Russell) in the Bay of Islands and parts of his mission survive there. We have written previous years about our visits to the Pompallier House, his printing works, in Russell. Bishop Pompallier was at Waitangi at the signing of the treaty and at Kororareka when the Maori sacked it, Hone Heki in 1845. He was later Bishop of Auckland. His bones have recently been returned to New Zealand from France, where he had been buried in an unmarked grave, and, after a procession round both islands, have been buried at Motuti in a church which originally stood at Purakau, his main mission on the Hokianga.
It was again time to move on, this time into the Kauri forests. The Kauri is an unusual and very long-lived tree; the larger ones can be 2000 years old. Kauri seedlings need plenty of light so they usually start life amid Manuka scrubland in forest clearings formed by windfall or fire. Adolescent trees form a tapering trunk and narrow conical crown. The tall adolescent Kauri have narrow pole trunks, but as they mature the trunk thickens and the lower branches are all shed giving the very clean straight trunk of the adult tree which made their wood so desirable. The bark is shed in plate-sized scales giving a distinctive appearance to the trunk and helps to shop epiphytes from establishing a hold. As they grow older the trunk progressively swells into a vast cylinder whilst the crown becomes thin. Despite the clean trunks the crowns are filled with other plants - one can find as many as 30 different species of epiphytes on a single large Kauri. The largest Kauri such as Tane Mahuta (the Father of Forest) and Te Matua Ngahere have girths of about 15 meters.
We first went into the Trounson Kauri Park, which is the first of the DOC "Mainland Islands" which seek to undo some of the damage done to the native flora and fauna by creating a secure environment in particular, the reduction of the impact of pests. Trounson was chosen to be the first of such experiments as it is literally a forest island surrounded by a sea of farmland; it is isolated from other forest patches and is the home to a number of endangered species such as the North Island Brown Kiwi, Kukupa (NZ pigeon) Pekepaka (bats) and Kauri snails. We had an excellent walk round the Trounson Park - it is not on the tourist route and it was very peaceful. We both decided it was the best area of Kauri we have seen and arguably one of the best medium length bush walks we have been on - the competitors are those in Goblin forests round Egmont.
DOC has set up an information area and there is a lot of information indicating how successful the concept of a Mainland Island has been with full and alarming information on the number of pest caught or poisoned. The number of Kiwi reaching a "safe" size of a kilo rose from 5% to 30% after the first two years of poisoning rodents and Possums and has now climbed to 70% since they have been eliminating stoats and cats by trapping. Feral cats do untold damage to bird life and they are trapping several dozen every year. Dogs are perhaps worse and one single dog killed nearly 200 Kiwi in a six-week period in the past.
We looked at the small DOC camp site at the edge of the park and we intend to return there at some point although the Top Ten with its better facilities, river and swimming hole tempted us again this year. Pete had a swim in the hole that is quite large, very deep and quite invigorating; perhaps it is fed with snowmelt from some far away hills! In the afternoon we went to the nearby Aranga Beach - it should have been a short trip but Pauline chose a shortcut on gravel roads that quickly became single track with grass down the middle and sometimes across the tracks. The beach, when we reached it was spectacular with the Pacific Rollers breaking with great force on the rocky end sending up a fine spray that was carried by the wind up the Maunganu Bluff as far and high as the eye could see. We decided not to climb the bluff, the DOC board offered good views at the end of a 462-metre climb as part of the coast track.
In the evening we used the camp barbeque to cook some of our Kumera, the sweet potato introduced by the Maori. Kumera can be boiled, mashed with lemon - our favourite with fish. The best way is on a barbeque hotplate. Slice 1.5 -2 cms thick with skin on and add to a puddle hot olive oil on a well heated barbeque hotplate and cook for circa 15 minutes till the sides are a dark golden brown and the centre soft - superb but few seem to know of that way of cooking it.
In the evening we took the night tour of the Trounson Kauri Park. It was very good although we neither heard nor saw Kiwis we saw the ells and fresh water crayfish as well as a number of the big carnivorous snails and the more common weta. It was also much easier to understand the way the Kauri grows and the other growth such as the ferns when an individual tree could be picked out by torch and followed up through the canopy. There were also lots of glowworms in the forest as well as a side trip to those near the campsite on our return where we also watched the evening feeding of the ells in the swimming hole. Well worth the $15 and 2 hours of time.
The nest day we went to look for a Kauri Dam in the Tangihua Forest that we had seen mentioned on one of the DOC leaflets. It is reached from the route 14 from Dargaville to Whangarei by taking the Omana Road out of Tangoriteroa - this road rapidly become gravel and after about 20 kms having passed Omana and just after the turn to Pikiwahine there is a small sign to Lodge (The Tangihua Lions Lodge) and a car park with a DOC board with a map. We did a walk taking about two and a quarter hours into the forest along the road to the lodge, then a side track to the Kauri Dam and back, on to see the lodge and back via the 'Nature Walk'. The final section to the Kauri Dam was rough and could be slipper in wet weather and there was a scramble to get past a viewing platform and down to the Kauri Dam itself. We made it in Walking Sandals but boots would have been better.
Kauri Dams were required because most Kauri Forests were well inland and there was no easy way to get the logs to the sea or other routes to saw mills. The logs were therefore dragged to a convenient streambed with steep sides and a Kauri Dam was constructed of wood with a "trapdoor" near the bottom large enough for the logs to pass through. The logs were typically a couple of metres diameter and 4-5 metres long so the door was considerable size and the dam was tens of metres high. The trapdoor was constructed so that when the dam was full, and that could take a year, it could be tripped and the water released. The logs floating above the dam were sucked down through the hole and swept down to the sea. Only parts of the base and bracing remain of the dam in the Tangihua Forest but one could imagine how it must have looked. We will enquire around to see if any pictures of it when operational still exist.
We left Trounson taking one of the backroads via Tutamoe, Waimatenui and Te Iringa across to Kaikohe where we joined the main join the main road to Paihia. Unlike most of such trips this actually saved enough distance to be quicker (1 hour 20 minutes for the 53 kms) as well as having some excellent scenery.
We took a short diversion to visit the Waimata North Mission House for the second time. The mission and associated church was set up as a largely self-contained farm unit, a model farm to reduce the dependence of the mission from dependence on Maori and to train Maori to farm in a civilised way. The remaining building, the second oldest in New Zealand, has recently been restored back to the original layout - it is well worth a diversion to look round. This time we also visited the nearby and associated Bedggood buildings that preserve the ruins of a cottage, a reconstruction of the blacksmith's shop together with archeologically features and historic trees in a pastoral landscape. They were part of the village and home and workplace of John Bedggood, missionary, wheelwright, blacksmith, miller and politician. Nearby one can admire the first Oak tree imported to New Zealand, probably for oak barrels. The missionaries also built the first road to link the Mission Farm to the Stone Store at Kerikeri where they planned to store the produce.
They form an integral part of the Historic Places properties in the area namely the Mission and Bedggood buildings at Waimata, the Kemp House and Stone Store at Kerikeri and the Pompallier House at Russell. They all played important roles in the early days when it was the most important area of contact in New Zealand culminating in the signing of the treat of Waitangi.
They next stop before heading to Auckland and home was a day in Russell, now a delightful and quiet town in the Bay of Islands with almost an island character as it is only accessible via ferry from Opua or by long back-roads, mostly gravel. It used to be the major port in New Zealand for whalers and traders and was known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific. At one time it had 24 Brothels and 30 Grog houses mostly run by escaped convicts and deserters. Maoris brought their women (or pigs for the poor) along with other goods to trade for primarily tools, and above all muskets, of iron. The expanding lawlessness was one of the reasons why the missionaries, based the other side round Kerikeri influenced the Maori to seek the protection of Crown and Great Britain which eventually and reluctantly sent Hobson and set up the Treaty of Waitangi, which was closely based round the Magna Carta.
The lawlessness in the area was far from restricted to the new immigrants; the missionaries had bought large tracts of land for a few dozen axe heads on paper but with less well documented agreements to provide muskets and other weapons and to arrange for transport of major chiefs to the UK with the prime purpose of obtaining weapons. The Maoris had always been a warlike race but the introduction of muskets led to an imbalance and slaughter on a previously unknown scale.
We spent time looking round the Pompallier House where we enquired if there were still any of Pompallier's vines in the area - unfortunately only volunteers are on duty at weekends and they did not know of any. The site is where the French Missionary Pompallier set up the first printing presses to produce bibles and other books in Maori. The fears of an increasing French influence were another factor in Britain eventually agreeing to an increasing involvement in New Zealand. The Pompallier House is now part of the Historic Places Trust and has a tannery providing demonstrations of how hides were turned into high quality leather for bookbinding and upstairs has demonstrations of printing and bookbinding. There is a lot of associated history in the exhibits and information on the methods used for building the Pompallier house, a typically French method of highly compressed mud walls giving a result not far from concrete in hardness but without the resistance to weather hence the wide overhanging eves to keep rain from the walls.
In the evening we ate at the Gables, claimed to be on the site of the oldest restaurant in New Zealand, on the waterfront in Russell and watched the sun set through the row of old Pohutakawa trees lining the sea front. The food was reasonable but expensive by New Zealand standards and the bottle of Marlborough Merlot turned out to be French tanker wine bottled in Auckland by Nobilo. Next time we will probably return to the Duke of Marlborough that held the first liquor licence in New Zealand.
In the morning we took the back road from Russell to Whakapara - it is a lovely scenic drive past many of the bays where we have moored whilst sailing but is much slower than the main road via the ferry. We took a side trip to Rawhiti where there is a small store that can be accessed by dingy. One feature of the trip to Rawhiti was the number of Kingfishers we saw, sitting on signs, perched on power lines and flying - we must have seen a dozen. The slightly longer coastal road is now completely sealed regardless of what the map says, what looks like an unsealed shortcut is far from a short cut and is not recommended; we have made that mistake previous years and it is a bad road with no scenic advantages.
We took a further and longer diversion down to Whangaruru North, a marvellous DOC camp site we have stayed at several years - this time we did not have more than a couple of hours but the new camp manager was quite happy for us to set up for a while and swim and fish. The site is right on the seas edge - at high tide you can surf cast from the side of our tent one is so close! The site has plenty of taps for washing etc and also has a hand pump for the best water we have found so far. One previous group even returned with a small tanker and spent 4 hours filling it by hand to take back to Auckland to make beer. There is even a washing board and mangle by the beach. We set up the surf caster and had a try off the nearby rocks but not even the bait was taken but the swimming was more than compensation - the warmest this year. We wished we could have stayed but we needed to be closer to Auckland and had booked into another old favourite at Sandspit. On route we stopped to buy some cheese at the Dutch cheese shop at Kaiwaka - both the imported and local copies are excellent.
The campsite at Sandspit, or more correctly Lower Matakana used to be a farm and was turned to campsite in 1930. Many of the old buildings still exist. Bay, the cabin we were allocated, was right on the sea front with its own tiny private beach marked off by low breakwaters - it started life as one of four ex American Army cabins and was obtained locally. The old schoolhouse from the 1870s forms the games room. The first cabin we had many years ago, Willow, started life as the chook house, then became the shower block and finally a cabin. Last year we stayed in Nikau that was the home of Uncle Jimmy and built just before the turn of the century.
A few years ago the owners created a "pioneer village" with shop windows full of cameras etc and a cinema doubling as a TV room for children. For those who are unaware what chooks are, they are a NZ chicken that does not cluck but goes chook, chook, chook, eh. It is a very friendly place with free kayaks and dinghies at the waterfront and fishing rods and flounder spears at the house. The toilet blocks always have fresh flowers and are now adorned with the most fantastic seats with shells and Starfish cast into transparent plastic.
We had our final barbeque with the Red Devil and spent several hours cleaning it up ready for storage, the start of the final logistics of washing, cleaning, sorting storing and bank accounts. The kitchen usually has a 'help yourself box' as it is a last stop for people leaving and an early stop for arrivals to New Zealand. We also left two of our old fishing reels for their stock.
It was then a quick drive to Auckland, Sandspit is very conveniently placed about 90 minutes drive from downtown Auckland. Unpacking, then and packing everything in water and vermin proof containers, cleaning and preserving fishing gear and painting the barbeque always takes longer than we allow. It was then time to start planning for next year and finding the dates for the Art Deco Weekend in Napier so we can book and, of course planning where we should sail. After some holidays one is glad to get back home but the New Zealand time always seems too short.
Well that is the end of another set of 'News from the Antipodes', this time sent the day before departure rather than on our return. This time it has been made much easier by having the 'new' Toshiba Protégé and the having pictures from the new Canon A70 should have made it quicker to put it all up on the website
Peter and Pauline Curtis
Most recent significant revision: 17th April, 2004