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December 13th 2008
Published: December 13th 2008
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Somewhere North of Dargaville in Trounson Kauri Park
December 11, 2008

We were up early but had to hang around Coromandel town until the Coromandel Smoking Company opened so we could buy smoked mussels (incredibly delicious and addicting) for me and three different kinds of smoked fish for the both of us. It was inexpensive and now we wish we had bought more.

The numerous pohutukawa trees on Coromandel Peninsula are starting to bloom and the deep red blossoms are beautiful to see. The pohutukawa is called the NZ Christmas tree for obvious reasons.

We stopped again near Miranda at the Shore Bird Center (this time the guy greeted us with our names) to see if there were any new migrants lurking around. There were none, but Joe bought a hat and we chatted a bit. Our friend recommended that we stay at this caravan park where there are no cafes or stores so we stopped near Miranda to buy fresh tarahiki fish, and down the road we were able to get fresh thin asparagus, strawberries, apples, and bananas at a roadside stand run by some Chinese people.

We traveled leisurely along the Pacific Coast then blasted
Nice PlaceNice PlaceNice Place

This is the view from our van in Kauri Park
through Auckland and here we are in this beautiful spot in the forest next to the Mangakahia River. We are in what is called “The Northland.” Soon after we arrived a campervan pulled in across from us and it was a couple from Belgium that we sat with at the same table at the Tamaki dinner in Rotorua. We shared travel stories and they gave us some food since they are flying home tomorrow. It’s amazing to me how we keep running into the same people. I’ve written about how we’ve crossed paths with the National Geographic people four times. We’ve also spoken with a group of women bicyclists once on the South Island and twice here on the North Island.

Our “next-space” neighbors invited us over for a glass of wine. They live only 100 k. from here and they were going to help us plan the next few days. They were nice but I think we ended up more confused than before about the area.

Because the weather was so nice we opted to cook our dinner in the outdoor camp kitchen. This kitchen has stainless steel appliances, a microwave, a gas range and grill, and instant boiling water. We pan-fried our fish with onion in butter and lemon and grilled our asparagus and some tiny new potatoes and ate at our picnic table about 20 feet from the river. The delicious food, a good bottle of Marlborough NZ chardonnay, the sun on our backs and the soothing sounds of the rushing river and the song of the ever present tui bird made for a fine dining experience. We selfishly made a toast to ourselves and didn’t feel one shred of guilt.

Normally we dislike “organized” walks, but tonight we decided to go on a two-hour night walk in Trounson Kauri Park with a ranger from the Dept. of Conservation. We were hoping she would know where the kiwis were. We’ve seen kiwi night walks offered in many places, but this one was the cheapest yet. The walk turned out to be interesting and eventful. We saw several large freshwater eels, some large nocturnal wetas (insects) and hundreds of glowworms that were on the bottom of an ancient toppled Kauri tree. We got up close with a flashlight to see the worms and the tiny threads of their silk traps. And…YES, we did see two or three kiwis, we thought maybe we saw one of them twice. We heard the male calling for several minutes and the female answering. We saw one walk through the underbrush. We watched two kiwis fighting each other for several minutes and then one gave up and ran under the little bridge we were standing on. (Kiwis don’t fly.) It was all pretty exciting. As you can see by the photo below, Joe carefully documented our kiwi sightings. We were dependent on the ranger’s powerful red plastic covered flashlight for the spottings, we weren’t allowed to use our own and we sometimes thought she wasn’t very quick on the draw. But we were satisfied. Not only was it fun seeing the kiwis, it was also nice to walk in a Kauri forest on a warm night with the full moon lighting our way.

And now our blog title, “Searching for Koalas and Kiwis” can be changed to “Finding Koalas and Kiwis.”

Additional photos below
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Somewhere in there is a kiwi. Night shots of movement? Impossible.

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