Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Zealand - Post 8

Tuesday 25 Dec

A slow start to the day with bacon & eggs for breakfast, then we visited the Waikato River walk which included the Memorial Park with a war memorial, anchor, life-size model of a Spitfire, and a nearby children's park with an aviary. 


Further down, closer to the river was the remains of the oldest metal boat the paddle steamer Rangiriri. Next it was on to the Hamilton Gardens, which were excellent. They have created a hub which leads to several themed gardens, Japanese, English Country, Chinese, Indian, Maori, Sustainable, Herb, Modern American, and Italian. 












These were really well done, and we thoroughly enjoyed them. There was also the 'Turtle Lake' (with no turtles that we could see), and a large rose garden. 

We sat in the shade in to have lunch – the special treat was some cherries, before wandering along the riverbank, and up to the Hamilton East Cemetery. It was 24oC and mostly sunny (we had a light shower just as we arrived), and back at the motel I had a swim to cool off. For Happy Hour, I made some mulled wine, which we enjoyed with a Blue Brie. Dinner was Thai spiced baked salmon with asparagus, followed by blueberries & chocolate.

Wednesday 26 Dec
Drove North, and stopped at Huntly to do their Lake Hakanoa Walkway. There were absolutely no signs from the highway, and it was really only with OziExplorer, (my little mouse GPS and the maps on my netbook), that I was able to find the right way there. Despite it being in the brochure, it was fairly disappointing, so we only did a little walk before continuing. 


We stopped at Rangiriri, the site of one of NZ's bloodiest land wars. The cemetery, which has the commemoration of those killed (Maori & Paheka), was done up very well. 


Showers and rain all the way from Auckland to Whangarei, where we stopped at Central Court Motel. It seemed quite peaceful, being a bit out of town, and set back from the road up a hill. There was a communal kitchen, with a nice deck at the back, to sit and have wine and cheese while looking out over the bay. A couple of NZ fantails were fluttering around the nearby trees, but I still haven't been able to get a decent photo.
Thursday 27 Dec
Went to visit Abbey Caves at Whangerei. There were 3 caves - and we went in the first one. It had waist deep water, but Darryl was tall enough to get himself along the walls without getting in deeper than his thighs. It was definitely worth it though, as the cavern had glow-worms that looked like the milky way, and we were able to get lovely shots of the threads (which we have not been able to do before.






The second cave didn't seem to have a water flow, and didn't look as interesting, so we didn't go in, but the last cave had a huge entrance and had really good stalactites.
 



I thoroughly enjoyed this caving, with fast running water, there was no dust or guano (like Mt Etna).



We then went back to Mt Parihaka Lookout, which has the War Memorial, and great views of Whangerei.



The next site of interest was Whangerei Falls. We both thought we would have seen these falls last time, but we are pretty sure now that we didn't. There is a nice loop walk around them.



Friday 28 Dec
Had our worst night due to mozzies keeping us awake through the night, so got up late. Darryl spoke to Ross, one of the owners, after breakfast, and he told us about a really good Kauri walk not far away, which was now closed. We drove up the road (and were thrilled to see a pair of quail with their little striped chicks), and initially found a very old track, and went in a way before deciding to go back to a nicely marked Kauri walk. The track had recently been done up, and went in to two very large Kauri trees, which were just magnificent. 


Along the way was the best example of a large round-leafed fern (I think it is called Kidney Fern) I have seen. 



A bit closer to the start of the road was another walk. We started along, but then decided to defer and have lunch on the foreshore of Pahia, and then do our shopping. When we came out of the supermarket, 3 kids came up asking if 'this' was our car. When we said yes, they said that someone had run into it. I asked if they had the number plate, and they said 'yes', for $10! Obviously we told them where to go! A driver behind had seen an old grey man hit the back of our car with his, get out and look, and then drive off, but didn't get any details. So, our trip back to the Motel was via the Police Station to make a report. We were so tired from our broken night's sleep that we both had an afternoon nap, before retiring to the cool of the deck. Eventually Darryl couldn't sit still any longer and took a walk up our road. After dark (9:30pm) we went on another Kiwi hunt, but all we saw was a possum running up a hill, and some spider eyes glistening from the bushes.
Saturday 29 Dec
A better night, as Darryl took 'measures' to ensure we didn't get mozzie problems again. Drove to look at KeriKeri, Mangonui, Ngatu Lake (don't bother with this one!), Ninety Mile Beach and the Aupori Peninsula. 








Had lunch at Pukenui before heading back through Kaitaia, then East. Drove into Omahuta Forest, but the road got very narrow and there were big potholes, so we only went as far as the giant Kauri stump (the purple line outlines the stump - more or less) before turning back. 


I wasn't game, after that, to direct Darryl into Pukenui Forest. Then we stopped at Kawakawa, but could not see the famous (or infamous) Hunderwasser's Toilets. Got 'home' and it was pretty hot, so had a cool off in the pool. 

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