The more astute among you will have noticed a dramatic change to our home page header image. It’s obviously reflective of the fact we’re now residing in ‘NZAreandare’, rather than aboard NBAreandare. It’s a great shot by Barry – you’ll be pleased to hear he’s posted quite a number of his photos in this post for your delectation.
Barry’s also added an ‘Our Location’ page, for anyone who’s interested in our itinerary around this breathtaking country. So although the posts may be a little out of synch, we’ll do our best to update where we are in real-time each evening.
We spent an enjoyable few hours enthralled in the museum, yet only touched the surface of the vastness of the exhibits and fascinating facts. When the early settlers arrived in New Zealand, just as Kupe did, they landed in Northland. The area was covered in mighty kauri trees, many thousands of years old. Many of the settlers arriving were the youngest children of large, wealthy families. As they were so far down the sibling line, they’d be unlikely to inherit anything. In the late nineteenth century, it would’ve been a precarious journey, and they would be unlikely to see family ever again.
Once they landed they’d have realised the land was wild. There were some heartwarming tales of how the local Maori helped these people in a variety of ways which I found inspirational. Before ‘the white man’ decided to call them ‘savages’ and take much of their land. There’s a lot of New Zealand history around this. If you’re interested to learn more, go to this link – https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/history-of-new-zealand-1769-1914
Barry tells me he read somewhere in the museum that one kauri tree could build 17 homes. The methods of cutting them down, then moving them to the requisite locations, was an incredible feat of imagination and strength. Initially using bullocks, then Lister engines in the early twentieth century, moving on to a type of bulldozer. This, of course, was organised only by men. Women weren’t ‘allowed’ to take any form of paid work outside the home. Thankfully New Zealand progressed past this ridiculousness as you’ll see further into the post.
I thought I’d the same museum visited with mum and dad in 2002, but it seems I was wrong. I’d never been there before. I suspect we visited a kauri shop, with a massive kauri tree hollowed out that you can walk into and climb a set of stairs. Sadly it seems this place is now closed. The website is no longer, all I’ve found is reviews on Tripadvisor for the Kauri Kingdom Cafe at Awanui. On further investigation, it’s changed its name to ‘Kā-Uri Unearthed‘ and is undergoing extensive renovations. I wonder if the giant hollowed out kauri tree with staircase will still be there when it re-opens under a different name?
New Zealand Leading The Way For Women
We have huge admiration for the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She comes from a long line of strong, intelligent women, who haven’t been ‘cut down’ by the misogynism of the past – or present! This country lead the way in the early 20th Century, just as they are in the 21st.
After our kauri museum visit, we briefly visited the Dargeville Museum, though too late to go in. I did visit the Ladies loo there and spotted this sign which tickled me. I suspect there are countless men, especially it seems in the USA and the UK, who continue to believe this outrageousness:
Oh my goodness! I’d have been such a trouble maker if I’d been born much earlier …
Noticing New Zealand Flora, Fauna and Wildlife
The seasons here in the southern hemisphere, have many similarities. However in New Zealand, most of the trees never lose their leaves, and flowers bloom all year round. It will, of course, depend on location, with Northland being sub-tropical. I love the amazing variety of flowers and trees. The beautiful birdsong – especially the Tui. On our journeys, we saw deer, alpaca, goats, and wild turkeys. An unbelievable variety of colours and breeds of cattle and sheep. Kingfishers are prolific here, albeit not as iridescent as in the UK. On one country road a pair of rainbow-coloured parakeets flew across our path. If you’ve never heard a tui here’s an example (they all sound quite different):
Camping Amongst Kauri
Continuing up the west coast of Northland, we wondered where to spend the next night. Kai Iwi Lakes was a possibility, so we drove there down the winding round. Wow! It was rather stunning! In many ways like a Mediterranean beach. However, the campground area was packed with families having fun at the end of the school holidays. It felt far too ‘busy’ for us, so we sat for a while and watched, then continued to Trounson Kauri Park for some kauri and kiwi spotting …
Kauri and Kiwi
I remember previously being in awe of these magnificent trees, purportedly the second largest trees in the world. There’s a DOC (Department of Conservation) campground at Trounson, so we parked up there and went for a breathtaking loop walk.
It was eerily silent apart from a cacophony of bird song, and an occasional button to press and listen to a bit of local history.
Here’s a story from one majestic kauri. You may want to hear it twice to really pick up on the words:
There were only two other campervans in the park, the silence was golden. A much better choice for us. Once we’d eaten and darkness fell, we returned to the woods for a nighttime walk to see if we could see or hear any wild kiwi. We were informed by another couple to use a red cover on our torch – I’d wondered why there were scraps of red plastic pinned to the noticeboard! Her advice, having seen kiwis on Stewart Island (where we hope to get to in a few months), was to walk quietly in. Stand still. Listen attentively. And wait.
We waited. We listened. We heard rustles. And branches breaking. A clicking above which could’ve been a weta. We heard what we believe were noises of kiwis in the distance.
It was pitch black and became quite scary for me, though Barry was fine. I gripped his hand tightly as we walked. After sitting on steps above a fallen Kauri for about half an hour we walked a little way deeper. Along the way, we spied glow worms snuggled into spaces under tree roots. We heard the call of the ‘MorePork’ which literally sounds like it’s singing “More pork. More pork.” But sadly we didn’t get close to a kiwi. Maybe we’ll be luckier in Stuart Island once we get there in 2021 …
Back at the campervan, we listened again for a while, and we’re pretty sure we heard kiwis calling. Have a listen:
Trounson To Ahipara
It would be so much better if I had the time to blog every couple of days at the moment. But I don’t. Too busy enjoying ourselves, and squeezing in work calls and optimising my client’s Google Ads accounts. Suffice it to say, the journey up to the base of The Far North continued to take our breath away.
We visited The Lord of The Forest, Tāne Mahuta. I really HAD seen him before when I was with mum and dad in 2002. This giant of a tree depicts the Māori story of creation, going back to Ranginui the ‘Sky Father’ and Papatuanuku the ‘Earth Mother’. It’s worth a read:
“… the mighty Tāne Mahuta (god of the forest) lay on his back and dug his shoulders deep into his mother’s body. With his legs, Tāne pushed against his father and, with all the strength he could summon, attempted to let light into the world.“Tourism New Zealand – http://media.newzealand.com/en/story-ideas/tane-mahuta-separator-of-heaven-and-earth/
After being astounded once more, we continued to the spectacular Hokianga Harbour. Another return for me but another first for Barry. He was in awe of the beauty of the area. Hence his choice of the website header image, taken in Opononi.
We crossed from the colourful town of Rewene, on a car ferry, to Kohukohu (are you keeping up with these pronunciations?!), hoping to stay a night at a campground there only to discover it was closed. So we carried on to Ahipara, the beginning of Ninety Mile Beach. And The Far North.
We spent two nights at Ahipara Holiday Camp, so I could sit still for a day and work. Which I did. Mostly! I did sneak a couple of hours off to walk about a mile and a half along the beach – which is actually only 55 miles long. But it’s impressive to say the least. If you ever come, hire a 4WD vehicle, or do an organised day trip. It is incredible – I did it in 2002, but this time we decided to drive up to Cape Reinga by camper van. Which will be the next blog post.
For now, here’s a selection of Barry’s images of this section of Aotearoa:
WOW aye? We feel so fortunate to be here, where all is well with the world. We hope that wherever you are, you are keeping safe and finding love and laughter in your days too.