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Published: March 22nd 2007
Moreton Bay Fig
This impressive tree had a 15 meter girth and 42 meter spread
On March 14, we left the Coromandel Peninsula (weekend getaway for Auklanders) for the Kauri Coast, named for the huge, ancient trees that once forested this section of Northland. At a museum in the middle of countryside, we saw Kauri wood said to be up to 45,000 years old due to the fact that it had been buried in the swamps and sand of the North Country. Though the Kauri forests were logged to almost extinction during the early 20th C., one portion has been preserved along this wild, sparsely populated coastline. This was where we found our most fascinating B&B to date in a rural lodge built in the 1860's with beautiful interior Kauri woodwork and period furniture. The hosts rear Romney sheep for the special qualities of their wool,which, Coleen claims, spins and weaves into clothing & houselhold items. Tony, her husband, invited us to join him as he moved the small herd from one paddock to another. And, of course, we had lamb for dinner
In NZ, trees hold a special rank. Further up the Coast, we took a sidetrip to see a special tree that Colleen had described: a Moreton Fig tree with a girth of
Bill in a Bonecarving lesson
On a rainy day, Bill and Carol took a bone carving lesson in Whitianga
15 meters and spread of 42 meters. Simply magestic!
The coastal road winds through spectacular forstland with few settlements. By nightfall we had found our destination: Hokianga Harbour. Here, on the northwest coast of the North Island, the Hokianga River flows into the Tasman Sea forming mountainous golden dunes across from the broad harbor. We treated ourselves to a rare restaurant meal overlooking the harbor and then arrived late at our B&B in the tine town of Opanoni. The grumpy host proved to be a retired prison guard, so we curbed our political comments over breakfast and actually, learned much about the law enforcement perspective of New Zealand (and Rugby)from our host and his highway patrol brother-in-law who was staying there as well.
Then we quickly crossed the island from west to east coast, stopping in Kawa Kawa to see the famous public toilets (Hundertwasser's Loo) by an eccentric Austrian artist who also designed the power station and a wonderful set of apartments in Vienna before he emigrated to NZ. As a lot of the painting and design we're encountering so far has been mild and conventional, the vivid colors and quirky structural elements really fed the soul!
Pendants we carved
Each pendant design has a meaning for the Maori people
And now, on to the Bay of Islands...
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