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Published: August 13th 2008
Waharau Regional Park
Not even Glynn is as giant as this fern.
Holy Macaroni! Can you believe it's been well over 2 months since the last blog entry? If you've been wondering where we've been, the answer is simple - nowhere! For almost 8 weeks now we've had rain, rain, storms and more rain. Yes, it often felt like we'd never left England! Well, it is wintertime here so we didn't expect the weather to be great but on Sunday we had our first sunny day without showers for a long time so wasted no time in donning our walking boots and foraying into the great outdoors again.
Our destination was the Firth of Thames (lots of places in NZ have links to the UK), a lovely bit of coastline facing the Coromandel Peninsular, and to the Waharau Regional Park. Waharau is a good long hours' drive away from home and we headed first south and then east towards the sea. In many ways it seemed too far away to be considered part of Auckland but techincally it is and what a nice place it is too.
We parked up by a little visitor's centre which was colder inside than out so we didn't stop long. With our packs on and
Pretty as a postcard.
our bags loaded with lunchtime picnic goodies, off we rambled. Our first track led us across green pastures and down to a picturesque brook lined by native pines. It may be winter but lambing season is in full swing here and we quite unexpectedly found ourselves in the midst of a brood of protective mother sheep and their extremely cute newborn lambs. Watching them frolikcing in the grass and bounding across the hillside, I could not imagine why anyone could possibly want to eat one of these innocent little creatures. If only I could have enticed them all to come home with me and be endlessly cuddled...
Given our long absence from tramping (that's what Kiwis call hiking), we next opted to take the medium length rather than long track, and were led in a 6km loop through the hilly forest. It felt so good to be out in the open again with the smell of ferns and firs all around us. The going was tricky at times, the recent heavy downpours having washed much of the gravel from the paths to reveal slippery clay tracks beneath. As the path led up and down some quite steep slopes, it
Meet the Locals
How's this for a typical NZ scene?
felt like it would only be a matter of time before one of us got a free slide in the mud. I figured it would be me that went down first as I possess the uncanny ability to fall over just about anywhere but incredibly we both came away unscathed!
On the final strech back towards the car, we came across another field of sheep with lots more newborn lambs to coo over. Then Glynn spotted a lamb lying in an odd position who looked like it might have injured itself. He stumbled up the steep grassy slope towards it and the lamb didn't move. Seeing it panting eratically made us fear the worse and when I joined Glynn on the hillside, I wondered how on earth we were going to be able to get help to the little guy as we hadn't seen a soul for hours. I fished the water bottle out of my pack and poured some into my cupped hand for the lamb to drink. Just as I got to about an inch from its mouth, it gave a violent lurch and clumsily jerked itself upright. Rather than run away, however, it tentatively came towards
Glynn picks out tonight's dinner.
me and looked as curious about me as I was about it. Then the mother sheep started calling for the lamb who suddenly didn't know what to do. He took a couple of steps towards me and my outstretched hand but then stumbled off unsteadily to join its worried mother.
Having enjoyed our walk immensely and to celebrate the fact that the lamb was ok, it seemed only right that we stop off for some fish and chips nearby. No sooner had we joined the queue at this popular little takeaway than the world and his wife descended for a fish supper of their own. There were bikers galore rolling in, teenage boys with their skinny girlfriends, foreign tourists but no sign of a tour bus and then an eclectic variety of locals who you can always identify by their mismatched clothing, intersting hairstyles and weatherbeaten faces. Literally 30 or 40 people at a chippy in the middle of nowhere at 3.30 in the afternoon? Bizarre! I must say though that my kumara (sweet potato) chips were delicious and Glynn enjoyed his fish supper immensely, which we ate parked up by the sea, watching the oyster catchers (a type
Jude the Firth
At the highest point along the forest track, the trees cleared and we were treated to this lovely view across the Firth of Thames.
of squat black bird with a long red pointy beak) scavenging for their own supper on the shingle beaches.
I'm so glad we got to visit Waharau as I can't think of anywhere I've ever been where the forest grows so close to the sea. Not only that but there's a bucketload more rain predicted this weekend!!
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