Day Sixty Two

Day Sixty Two

 This will  be the last blog entry, unless someone comes up with a very convincing argument as to why it should continue (offers over $1,000 please 😃)

It was begun as a means of lightening my life and that of anyone who wanted to read it, during the dark first days of total isolation in mid-March 2020.

  It’s covered many subjects and seems to have reached all over the world, something I didn't anticipate.

Now, in New Zealand at least, Lockdown is more or less over.  My thanks to all  who read and, I hope, enjoyed the ramblings.  
Autumnal colour in Arrowtown, South Island.
Today's entry is a little longer than usual.  So gird up yer loins for the last leg and arm of the journey across the country, which in my opinion, is the best in the world.
Richard Pearse

But before we leave Auckland, let’s meet Richard William Pearse 1877–1953, poor farmer and inventor from Temuka, South Island but whose aeroplane (or a copy thereof) flies in Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).
The world believes the Wright Brothers were the first to achieve sustained flight, that’s not quite true.
Richard flew several times, with locals and family watching, before and on 31st March 1902.     The trouble is, those witnesses weren’t “officials”, just local farmers whose word has since been unjustly questioned.

Pearse Memorial in Waitohi
  Pearse (who was humble and never claimed any right to fame) flew again in 1903,  had been working on powered flight since 1899 but where the Wright Brothers had access to funds and an engineering workshop, Pearse had neither. He worked his farm alone and in his spare time, spent whatever he could afford on his inventions.
Pearse's water-cooled engine

Richard’s plane included several pioneering concepts: a monoplane configuration, wing flaps and rear elevator, steerable nose wheel and a propeller with variable-pitch blades driven by a unique double-acting horizontally opposed petrol engine.
  A replica of Pearse’s aircraft hangs in the Timaru Museum as well as in MOTAT.
 He may not be world famous but Richard Pearse was a great man with a brilliant brain. He’s honoured in New Zealand and deserves the accolades.
Artists impression of Richard flying

As we travel north from Auckland, we might pop over to see the Gannet colony at Muriwai and the adjacent surfing beach at Maori Bay.   

The sand on the west coast includes iron oxide, which makes it black, a heritage of our volcanic past - and present. 
White Island

In December 2019, Whakari-White Island 48km off the east coast, near Tauranga and Whakatane, erupted, killing 21 people and injuring many more.

Look west to the Kaipara Harbour, a popular place for gathering seafood, especially oysters.

Kaipara Harbour

 I once told a friend I’d never tasted an oyster and the next day, he appeared with a bucket full of Kaipara oysters. Heaven.

 We pass through the seaside-retirement town of Orewa on the Hibiscus Coast, having briefly traversed the Whangaparaoa Penisula, a gorgeous place to have a bayside retreat. It's the site of many baches (holiday homes) and retirement villages.
Whangaparaoa Peninsula
Ocean east we might just see Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands. Crystal clear water and a laid-back lifestyle, attracts many vacationers.
Great Barrier Island
Then on through Wellsford (Whakapirau) and past the Honey Centre where you can see working bees behind glass and taste the many kinds of honey produced.

 Warkworth (Mahurangi), is next. An attractive town with the River Mahurangi running through it and many attractions for tourists and locals alike.

 It’s the gateway to another splendid area the Tawharanui Peninsula and Regional Park.
 During WW2, Warkworth was host to 25 US Army military camps where soldiers trained prior to being  sent to Pacific theatres of war. They were well received by the townsfolk who respected their commitment as allies.
American Troops assemble in Auckland prior to leaving to serve in the Pacific

To get to our next place, we have to traverse the winding and sometimes dangerous road up the Brynderwyn Hills.

In 2017, the New Zealand Herald wrote about this road: 
"Every time a motorist enjoys the view from the top, they have survived one of Northland's worst twisting, challenging and dangerous roads."

It’s hard to impress, with just a photograph, what impact that view from the top had on me in those far off days.

I knew and loved the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the glories of beautiful Cornwall but never had I driven up a long, dark and occasionally claustrophobic road to be confronted so unexpectedly with a landscape which seemed to open out the world and stretch for hundreds of miles. 
A small portion of the view from Brynderwyn
At that time, there was no safe place to stop and marvel but that’s exactly what I wanted to do. 
From Top of the World cafe
When people say something is ‘stunning’, they rarely mean it literally but this view, stretching from distant horizon East to West,  stunned my senses.

At the first opportunity I pulled the car in to the side and simply sat there, absorbing the amazing  panorama, only part of which you see in these photos.

The next time, I knew better.  The Top of the World Café offered not just the view to enjoy at leisure but fine breakfasts too.

Whangarei is a pleasant town with a famous Clock Museum, Quarry Gardens and Craft Centre, a Town Basin which is a lovely meeting place on a sunny day with its cafés, gallery and a walkway - Huarahi te Whai.  
Town Basin Whangarei
I’ve spent many a happy hour here but not today when we have miles to go before we sleep…

Although it’s 36km from SH1 to Matapouri Bay, it’s well worth the detour as it’s one of those peaceful and so-far, unspoiled beaches where the sea is gentle, the sand warm and the locals as friendly as can be.
Matapouri Bay
If I could live here, I would. 

But onward and upwards because we’ve got to get to a loo!  

The one I’ve chosen was designed by Friedrich Stowasser (1928-2000), an Austrian Kiwi who preferred to be called Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hunderwasser.   Eccentric? 

Maybe but a brilliant artist and designer. 
His public toilets in Kawakawa bring people from all over the world and they don’t just want to spend a penny.

Made  largely from recycled materials, it was the last project completed by the reclusie Hunderwasser before he died.

 His full name means: ‘Rainy-day, Dark- colourful, rich Friedrich Hundred waters’.   
An appropriate name for the designer of such a fantastic toilet.

 Until Hunderwasser’s loo was built, Kawakawa was mainly known for the train which shares space with cars along the main street; not the only place in New Zealand where car and train get along together.

We’ll hang a right and look at Russell (Kororareka),  New Zealand’s first capital.
Duke Marlborough Hotel, Russell

A pretty place, full of history and tourists but it was not always the lovely place it is today.
Before Europeans arrived, Maori lived there, mostly peacefully and appreciative of its climate, good soil and abundant fish stocks. 

Kororareka was a port, where British and American sailors and whalers landed with goods to trade and a view to womanising and grog.  
So appalling was their behaviour that it became known as The Hell Hole of the Pacific.
When Captain William Hobson who became New Zealand’s first Governor, needed to set up a capital in 1840,  Kororareka was deemed thoroughly unsuitable.

He purchased land 5 km away,  called it Russell and declared it the capital.  
However, in 1841, Ngati Whatua, an Auckland-area  Maori tribe, gifted land to Hobson and  Auckland became the capital.    It wasn’t until 1865 that Wellington assumed this role.
Captain William Hobson

In 1840, after short negotiations because it was rumoured French ships were on their way to claim the country, a Treaty between the British crown and  Maori chiefs was signed at Waitangi.

This gave Maori protection by British troops and guaranteed rights to their lands and off-shore areas.
Remnants of the original

There has been controversy ever since over the motives and interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi and in March 1845, Hone Heke a Nga Puhi, Maori chief was so sure the British (who did not have a great reputation for sticking to Treaty promises) were reneging on the deal that he chopped down the pole flying the Union Flag, in protest.

Kotahitanga being erected

Thirteen years later, in January 1858 a new flagpole was erected as a gift from Maihi Kawhiti. It was hauled by 500 warriors to the top of Maiki Hill and optimistically named, ‘Te Kotahitanga’ (togetherness).

Treaty House at Waitangi
And so to Paihia, where before the government ban, I swam with the dolphins, an amazing experience. Pahia is one of the many jewels in the crown of The Bay of Islands.

Paihia is the major tourist town of Northland and, of course, there are many things to do on sea and land.   
Cruises around the islands are popular, expecially the historic Cream Trip
This began in 1927, when Albert Fuller, started a collection and delivery route around the many inhabited islands. 
I took this trip some years ago and where there's nowhere  for the boat to moor, the residents have breeches buoys and other contraptions to haul their mail and produce to and from the vessel.  
Take  Tall Ship cruise or watch the dolphins.


We’ll pick up a few juicy oranges from one of the many orchards in Kerikeri and acknowledge New Zealand’s first market gardener and commercial dairy farmer: Rawiri Taiwhanga.
Rawiri Taiwhanga

In 1826, after learning agricultural and horticultural skills, his garden was abundant with potatoes, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, onions, shallots peas and parsnips, peaches and vines as well as an acre of wheat. 

When his raupo hut burned down in 1829, he and his wife Mata, built a substantial house, here seen sadly derelict.

From 1835, Rawiri, who had become a Christian lay preacher and believed strongly in education,  ran a school near Kaikohe but also a dairy farm, selling butter and milk in substantial quantities, thus establishing himself as New Zealand first commercial dairy farmer too.
 He was the pioneer who led Northland towards the flourishing international reputation as growers and exporters of fine fruits it is today. 

Here we are at Matauri Bay.

On 10th July, 1985, une action totalement ignoble took place in Auckland Harbour, in the heart of the Central Business District.

The Rainbow Warrior, owned by Greenpeace was bombed in the accurately named Operation Satanique.  
Photographer Fernando Pereira, on board at the time, was killed.  
Fernando Pereira

The French Intelligence Service, who initially denied involvement wanted the Warrior sunk before it could sail in peaceful protest against France’s continued nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll.

There followed a huge scandal and many more betrayals. The perpetrators escaped justice as a result of France threatening (blackmailing) to boycott New Zealand goods to the European Economic Community.

Rainbow Warrior, 1985

Although the Rainbow Warrior could not sail to Mururoa, hundreds of private crafts owned by New  Zealanders, did so. 

Rainbow Warrior Memorial 

On 13th December 1987, the wreck of the valiant Rainbow Warrior was laid to rest at Matauri Bay to become a dive site and marine sanctuary.

NASA shot of Aupouri Peninsula

We move east now and make our way to the base of the Aupouri Peninsula.  Here, the North Island narrows from 60km wide to a mere 10km and we arrive at 90 Mile Beach, which isn’t actually 90 miles long at all - but who cares?

It’s a fun place to be and you can body-board, run (or in my case, tumble) down the dunes. 

Seafoam around rocks at 90 Mile Beach

A bus will take you for a trip on the beach and quite often, cars zip along  there too but be wary, they can also get stuck and your insurance company may not understand!

State Highway One will take us to the very tip of the North Island, although not the northernmost point, which is the Surville Cliffs, 30km east.

Kapowairua or Piwhane,  (Spirits Bay), is a most sacred place, where Maori souls gather, round the old Pohutukawa Tree before leaping onwards to Hawaiki the spiritual homeland.
Kapowairua from the air

Today's visitors can walk to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga where, if their eyesight is good enough, they can see the next major landfall - Evgenkinot, Russia. 

The Pohutukawa tree at Kapowairua
Cape Reinga

And we are at the end of our journey too.  In reality, there is much, much more to see of New Zealand than appears in this blog.  I hope you'll come and explore for yourself one day.  It's well worth it and by and large, we're friendly😁.

I dedicate this blog entry to my dear friend Micki, who came to the end of her 90+ year journey as I was writing this.

Go with God, dear friend. Haere, haere, haere, hoki atu koe ki te Atua.

Rainbow Falls Kerikeri

Day Sixty One

Day Sixty One

We've left Wellington behind but  Auckland is still 624 km away up State Highway 1 = SH1 (or what the GPS calls “Shush One”) so we’ll take a detour to Napier first.

Add caption

Napier’s Maori name is Ahuriri and in 1931 it suffered a devastating earthquake but as with many disasters, time waved a magic wand and the city was rebuilt in Art Deco style.

There’s a beautiful but sad Maori legend of Pania,  a ‘sea nymph’ who fell in love with Karitoki a handsome Maori human.  They lived happily together but it troubled him that his lovely wife went back to the ocean each dawn.
Pania of the Reef
 He was advised to give her cooked food as this would hold her on land.  Karitoki tried this secretly as she slept but a Ruru (Morepork owl) screeched a warning, Pania awoke and ran off back to  sea, never to return.

To the west, Mt Taranaki rises magestically, snow covered and a favourite of Japanese tourists, reminded of Mt. Fuji.

  New Zealanders get their milk from Bulls.
Incredi -bull signs
 It’s an old joke and one the people of Bulls, near Palmerston North,  have milked to their advantage.

Giant bull in Bulls

If it rains, you might need your gumboots. Taihape has an annual Gumboot Day. Fred Dagg even sings a gumboot song and of course, Taihape has its muddy gumboot icon.  
Gumboot in Taihape

Long ago, seven volcanic mountains: Tongariro, Taranaki, Ruapehu, Ngaruahoe, Tarawera, Tauhara,  Patauaki and Pihanga played and promised always to be together. 

In time they grew and each fell in love with Pihanga, whose mossy form, covered by a cloak of green fern was enchanting.  Pihanga could not choose one for her husband as she loved them all, so as warriors do and despite her protests, they fought.
Tongariro was the eventual victor and Taranaki, grief-stricken, moved away

Emerald Lake at the top of  Mt.Tongariro

From the sublime to the ridiculous....but amusing.

  Ohakune is the Carrot Capital of New Zealand and here’s the Daucus carota sativus gigantica to prove it. Carrots also come in fetching shades of purple, black, red, yellow and white.

At Te Kuiti, in the heart of rural North Island, you can find the biggest shearer in the world.

Otorahanga has a Kiwi House where, behind protective glass, you can watch Kiwi fossicking in their temperature-controlled habitat.
This one, made of corrugated iron, is slightly larger.

 Otorohanga is not too far away from the fabulous Waitomo Caves where visitors can go underground and see glow-worms, stalactites and stalacmites.  

Lake Taupo is in the caldera (hollow) of a volcano. At 186 metres deep it’s home to many freshwater fish, including trout, which attract anglers from all over the world.
 The sale of trout (except for wild trout) is allowed in New Zealand. However, wild trout is unavailable and there is no way to obtain any other trout to sell. Importing trout is prevented by legislation. Catch 22.  But you’ll have to eat them all yourself.

Fancy a few prawns with that?
Huka Prawn Farm

South of Rotorua is Whakarewarewa. If you find that hard to say, it’s lucky you’re not required to pronounce the full version: Te Whakarewarewatanga o Te Ope Taua a Wahiao. Roughly translated this means ‘The place where the war party of Wahiao chanted, just before battle.’  

Mud pools Whakarewarewa

The Blue stream
Here you’ll not only see all the geothermal activity you could ever wish for but watch Maori artists and crafts people at work in the NZ Schoo of Maori Art and Craft.  

Whaka is a working village with residents who use the hot springs for cooking and heating their homes, as do many in Rotorua.

There’s a distinctive sulphur smell as mud pools bubble up from the earth, geysers shoot high in the air and steam hangs over all like a veil

Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe  to give its full, Maori name commemorates Kahu, a great explorer. The name means, “The second great lake of Kahu-mata-momoe".
The Champage Pool

If you’re weary from the long trek up the North Island, or trying to get your tongue round Maori place names, relax  in one of the many thermal pools. Have a calming massage and apply Rotorua mud to your face. I can personally testify that it’s the best thing ever for giving your skin a glowing bloom.

Take a final lungful of hydrogen sulphide and we’ll continue on our way north.

We shall miss The Coromandel Peninsula because that's a tour in itself and a spectacular place to live or take a holiday.
Majestic kauri

One of the enterprises I support is Kauri 2000 based there. They are pledged to plant thousands of kauri saplings and for a mere $20 NZ you can buy one and get a certificate. 
Great gifts for grandchildren, wedding, birthdays or anniversaries - and a bastion against the deadly disease 'kauri die back'.

Tirau was once a place people simply drove through until Steve Clothier opened an antique shop and began erecting corrugated iron building in the 90’s. 
Tirau now has corrugated toilets and Information Centre….

 and a whole farm full of iron birds, animals and flowers.

High on the hill is Castle Pamela, built by Kevin Baker as a gift for his wife.
 Once New Zealand’s largest doll, toy and train collection, it is now, as far as I know, closed and for sale.
Castle Pamela
At Morrinsville we’ll have a quick look at a mad cow which represents dairy farming in that area:

A detour to Paeroa will show us a local icon, ruined as so much is these days by corporate greed.

Lemon and Paeroa was, for generations manufactured in the town from the mineral spring water at Paeroa and was one of New Zealand's favourite drinks.
Coca-colonisation put paid to that.

The original L&P had a distinctive and unique fizziness which lay slightly cold on the tongue giving it such a wonderful tang that it won the British Bottlers Institute Diploma of Excellence award in 1969, the only entry from overseas ever to do so.
Coca-Cola stopped using the mineral water (it’s now unavailable even to local people) and L&P became the soulless chemical drink we associate with soulless, giant corporations.
Re-branded as 'Zespri' everyone still calls it Kiwifruit.

Just before we hit the Auckland outer suburbs, a mention of Te Puke,  where grows the succulent Kiwifruit and it’s giant representative.
Oystercatcher - we're fond of our big birds
And  Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, dedicated to preserving and enhancing the habitat for the many billions of birds which visit and prepare for breeding there.  In 2007 a female Bar-tailed Godwit made a remarkable 30,000 km journey to Alaska then returned in one, non-stop flight on 11,680km.  

Auckland, population just under 2 million, has a rich ethnic mix of cultures who have brought their celebrations and traditions. 
Divali, Holi, Chinese, Korean and Thai New Year,  Lantern Festival;  Waitangi Day, Pride Festival, Folk Music, Pasifika, Maori,  Comedy  and Film Festivals; Writers, Fashion and Arts Festivals, Food, Wine and Seafood festivals and an annual Multi-cultural Day where everyone comes together to show their pride in their traditions and cuisine.

Surrounded by the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours, with the Tasman Sea to the west and the Hauraki Gulf to the East, it’s no surprised it’s nicknamed The City of Sails.

Tourism is the major industry here so every taste is catered for, whether it be  bush walks or extreme sports; history at the Museum and Art Gallery or enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches.

But we can also indulge in a bit of silliness:
Bus to Kelly Tarleton's Sealife Aquariums

Advertising Uber Eats.                         

We could stay here for years - and I have - but tomorrow I’m dragging you away from the bright lights to one of the most beautiful places on earth.    

But rest first, I've booked you into a bach (holiday home) at Whatipu so you can watch the sunset.


Day Sixty Two

Day Sixty Two   This will  be the last blog entry, unless someone comes up with a very convincing argument as to why it should conti...