Edit Blog Post
Published: December 19th 2010
So last Wednesday myself & Jamie headed up the motorway north from Auckland which quickly turned from a recognisable motherway into a duel carriageway into a wiggly A road (& I use that term loosely!). We had done some planning & worked out what sections of the trip we would accomplish each day....
Wednesday morning we headed from Auckland up to Leigh where we hired snorkles, fins, wetsuits, etc & went to the beach from which we swam over to Goat Island. Tip - when swimming with a camera in one hand you tend to go in circles as the camera hand is less efficient than the non-camera hand. Bloody obvious I know but I still managed to do a couple of circles before figuring it out! We then snorkled up & down the coast of Goat Island watcing lots of pretty fishes swiming just out of reach. The wetsuits were excellent - we stayed in the water over two hours without getting cold. They were also boyant which was great (yay - no drowning) but made diving down really difficult without weights! After this we headed up to Whangarei where we stayed at a lovely little lodge for the
Thursday we headed up the coast after a brief stop in the rain to look at the picturesque Whangarei Falls & another to admire (& use!) the Hundertwasser Loos! Hundertwasser
was an Austrian painter and architect who loved nature & colours & tended to avoid straight lines! We reached Waitangi & tried to find the Waka (Maori war canoe) we had booked a trip on. Bring a small place we found the bridge easily & headed towards the only waka we could see on the water. No one was there though. Then we saw another waka on a trailer crossing the bridge towards us, "Follow that canoe!" We drove over to where they were unloading it & introduced ourselves, they seemed surprised we had turned up in the rain! As we were the only guests & there was just one tour guide we didn't actually paddle the waka but used the sneaky on borad engine. The three of us headed up the Waitangi river towards the Haruru Falls. We stopped off at his Marae (tribes meeting house) where he formally invited us in & showed us the image of his father (traditional statue of how they remember him
rather than a photograph) & other important items including weapons & flutes. His brother then joined us & we headed to the waterfall, the basin of which used to be so full of canoes you could jump across the river on them. It used to be an important trading site as the river provided other tribes with access to the inland areas. We then headed back down & around to see the Waitangi treaty grounds & a couple of beautiful waka who construction was a joint effort of all the Maroi tribes.
After checking into the Pickled Parrot hostel we stopped off for supper at a restaurant (we had had no time for a proper lunch) & then headed out to the Ngawha hot springs where we soaked away the drizzle & rush of the day in bubbling, muddy waters. Ok, so not only were they muddy but also smelled of rotting eggs (sulphur) - a smell that took a couple of goes to wash off! But they were lovely & warm & relaxing (as well as being cheap & quiet) & the waters apparently have healing properties.
The next day we pottled around the coast past the
Bay of Islands & up onto the Kerikeri Peninsula where we discoverd a beautiful & completely deserted white sand beach. We strolled along here & paddled in the sea (should have brought swimmers down from the car really but the sea was a tad chilly!) for a bit before heading round to Kaitaia. Here we stopped briefly to vitist the Ancient Kauri Kingdom - a shop selling items made from ancient wood found in swamps. Many beautiful pieces & some blocks for sale (sorry - I didn't get any!). Apparently ancient Kauri is the oldest workable wood in the world... The centrepiece of the store is a staircase made from a giant tree that fell over 45,000yrs ago and was over 1000yrs old when it died.
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