Breakfast was interrupted by a phone call from Jen’s Mum saying that Jen’s Dad Ray had been rushed to hospital after a possible heart attack. This of course meant that we considered heading home a month early. A later phone call was a bit more encouraging so we decided to continue with a journey pending any developments. We therefore headed south as planned. We waved off the Austrailian contingent on their bus - even getting a hug from Julie. The unexpected events meant that we left later than anticipated, and we had a tight schedule for all the things we wanted to do, so I forgot that the car ferry between Kohukohu and Rawene we had to catch leaves the north shore on the hour. The winding road passed through georgeous valleys as I raced to make the 10am sailing. The early rain had disappeared and we were in magnificent sunshine. There were numerous frustrating roadworks. It was going to be agonisingly close. We reached what we thought was the ferry departure point at almost ten on the dot, only to discover that it was a further 4km. I’d virtually given up but sped on and amazingly as we sped
around the final corner the man was just closing the gate which with usual Kiwi friendliness he reopened to let us aboard. We were so relived that we allowed ourselves 20 minutes for a coffee and at the lovely located Boatshed CafÃ©. Setting off again we skirted the beautiful Hokianga Harbour passing the pleasant little ‘resorts’ of Opononi and Omapere. We decided we had time for a quick walk so did a small part of the Waiotemarama Walk through lovely bush to a small waterfall. We drove on.Soon we entered the Waipoua Kauri forest. Kauri is a tree second only in size to the sequoia (giant redwoods). It however was unlike sequoia excellent timber so not surprisingly most of the massive forests were felled by the early pioneers right through to the 1930’s. All I has read did not prepare me for seeing my first massive kauri tree. We parked and walked five minutes to a tree called Tane Mahuta which is 1200 years old. It is breathtaking. We stopped a few kilometres on to walk briskly for 20 minutes to get to kauri named Te Matua Ngahere which is slightly shorter but has an even bigger girth. We also
saw an attractive grop of kauris called the Four Sisters. Amazingly there were even bigger kauris which were either felled or lost due to old age or fire. The winding road through the forest passes many smaller but still noble trees. We reached the town of Dargaville having time only to grab a toasted sandwich and a coffee because we needed to reach the Kauri Museum by 3pm to have two hours before it closed at 5m. We actually arrived 2:50 and had a great time wandering around this rather special museum. It charts the history of the kauri and the wider associated history wonderfully. There are magnificent displays of machinery (including a moving sawmill), artefacts and wonderful old photos (such as a single huge kauri log being hauled by 32 oxen). We left on closing and sped along good roads to Jen’s cousin Derek’s house at Warkworth where he and his partner Marianda had invited us for a meal and the stay. The meal was excellent green-lipped mussels in a spicy sauce. It was a very enjoyable evening chatting around the table Marianda is an artist specialising in glasswork and has a workshop with kiln attached to the house.
I particularly liked her fish design.
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