A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Catching Waves in Raglan

sunny 25 °C

How you go'in? This is the NZ way of asking - how are you doing? Julie and I love the kiwi lingo and some of it is hard NOT to pick up, such as the word “rubbish”. We pack up our belongings and hit the road heading north from New Plymouth along the west coast. Our first stop is Mike's Organic Brewery for an early morning taste test and to purchase of some beverages for myself.

The plan for the day is to explore the massive cave system in the Waitomo area but due to crazy amounts of tourists with the same idea, our primo option is sold out. Instead we decide to stop at a couple of free caves along the way to Raglan. First stop is Mangapohoe Natural Arch, a giant limestone arch, accessible by a short stroll off the highway. We walk through the deep gorge that once was a long cave formed by the river until the roof fell in. We reach the arch, all that is left of the cave ceiling, as light streams in onto the dark floors. Further along the loop giant fossilized oysters cover the rocks which are scattered throughout the fields. Our second stop is at Piripiri Cave and we disappear into the darkness – literally. Our torches are in dire need of new batteries and we can't see a thing.

Mangapohoe Natural Arch

Mangapohoe Natural Arch


Giant Oyster Fossils

Giant Oyster Fossils

Onwards to Kawhia and the Te Puia Hot Springs that are located perfectly on a secluded stretch of sandy beach. I ask the owner of a gas station about the hot springs and he gives me the lowdown on how to find the hottest springs. He enquires to where we are camping for the night and of course we haven't planned for that just yet. He mentions that they have a free camping spot behind the gas bar and suggests that we pop back around after soaking in the springs to stay the night. It sounds like a great plan, a little bit of back tracking, but we like the sounds of “free”.

We hit Te Puia Hot Springs just right, as the tide is low and there is plenty of hot water peculating to the surface. There are a few people conveniently leaving, so we scope our there abandoned dug holes for the hottest pool. After a bit of hand digging, our beach hot tub is ready, and we slide in to a little bit of heaven.

Te Puia Hot Springs

Te Puia Hot Springs


Julie an I at Te Puia Springs

Julie an I at Te Puia Springs

Julie and I decide to take up the free camping offer at the Oparau Roadhouse, which turns out to be a great decision. Bill and Brenda are the generous owners that have been taking in weary travellers for twenty years. They also run a backpackers accommodation which is empty for the night, so he persuades us to stay there for the night. We get the entire place to ourselves and we get to sleep in a comfy bed instead of pitching our tent. Not even a half hour since Bill left is he back around with leftover meat pies (a NZ staple food) from their restaurant that will be tossed if we don't eat them, so I score a free meal as well! Julie can't eat the pies since she isn't eating wheat and dairy and after a few minutes there is another knock on the door by Bill with a plate of food perfect for Julie. Unreal! Kiwi's are such welcoming and generous people, a trait that is rubbing off on us as we make our way through the country.

Sunset from Oparau Roadhouse

Sunset from Oparau Roadhouse

In the morning we thank Bill and Brenda about hundred times, sign their guest book, and hit the road to Raglan where we are hoping to get a surfing lesson. Along the way, Bridal Veil Falls sounds stunning, so we hit the short trail to the picture perfect display. By 10am we reach Raglan and start contacting different surf schools to find the best rate. We end up with Steve that runs Surf Safe, which is an awesome deal for great lessons from a killer surfer. After about an hour of onshore instruction at Ngarunui Beach, it is time to hop on a board and ride the rolling surf. The breaks are consistent which makes it easy to catch the waves. Julie catches on too fast for my liking and looks like a pro compared to me. We both have a totally tubular time with Steve and get a great handle on surfing. Rad.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls


Ngarunui Beach - Awesome Surfing

Ngarunui Beach - Awesome Surfing


Surfing Julie

Surfing Julie


Surfing in Raglan

Surfing in Raglan


Classic Surf Wagan

Classic Surf Wagan


Steve from Surf Safe in Raglan

Steve from Surf Safe in Raglan

We're both wiped after dominating the waves all afternoon, so we make the call to stay around Raglan for the night. Solscape Eco-Retreat over-looks town and the misty coastline and seems like the perfect place for the night. Julie is instantly amazed at the unique facilities and eco-structures around the property. There are a couple of outdoor kitchens with cobb ovens, cool teepees to rent and stay in, cabins made from old rail cars, an earth-dome, veggie patches to use, and educational signage everywhere. It's an amazing place to stay and it would be a great idea to start up in Ontario.

Solscape Eco-Retreat near Raglan

Solscape Eco-Retreat near Raglan


Trains Used For Accomodations at Solscape

Trains Used For Accomodations at Solscape


Earth Dome at Solscape Eco-Retreat

Earth Dome at Solscape Eco-Retreat


Earth Dome at Solscape

Earth Dome at Solscape


Cob Ovens at Solscape

Cob Ovens at Solscape


Teepees at Solscape

Teepees at Solscape


Outdoor Kitchen at Solscape Eco-Retreat

Outdoor Kitchen at Solscape Eco-Retreat

Hamilton is our first stop of the day after packing up at Solscape. The Hamilton Gardens are a great place to wander through this morning to get new gardening ideas. Julie is particularly fascinated with the herb garden section and we jot down some new herbs to plant for medicinal and cosmetic uses.

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens


Julie in the Herb Garden

Julie in the Herb Garden


Brick Arches at Hamilton Gardens

Brick Arches at Hamilton Gardens

Continuing across the North Island we end our day near Te Mata on the Coromandel Peninsula. We are starting another wwoofing job at Richard and Linden's little piece of paradise high on a hillside over-looking native bush and the Firth of Thames. They prepare a great fish dinner before we watch the sun set over the ocean. We talk about their property and how they are sustainably managing it for native timber. Linden is a very hard working and determined lady, that is quickly transforming their property from paddocks and invasive gorse to native bush. Should be a great wwoofing time, with various forest restoration work planned for the week.

Posted by ontarions 22:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Rocking Out in New Plymouth...

...WOMAD!!

semi-overcast 24 °C

From the quiet Ohinepane campsite, we follow “The Forgotten World Highway” along winding shingle roads. The historic road takes us over six saddles with robust views of some insanely rugged farmland. I spot a sweet fishing hole near Morgan's Grave, the burial site of a road surveyor, within the Waitaanga Conservation Area. The area is lush with steep, narrow river valleys. I grab the gear and we slid down to the river's edge via a slippery tributary. Within five casts I land a healthy brown trout getting soaked in the process. While walking back to show Julie, who is snapping photos around the bend, the spunky brown flops and I loose my grip. It slaps down onto the wet clay bank, and I do too onto my knees, trying to get my hands on him. The trout out manoeuvres me and I end up with muddy legs, wet feet, and no evidence.

View of Rolling Paddocks along Forgotten Highway

View of Rolling Paddocks along Forgotten Highway


Creek Near Morgan's Grave

Creek Near Morgan's Grave


Fishing in Tangarakau River

Fishing in Tangarakau River

After about 4 hours of driving along winding roads with beautiful surroundings, even if it consists of mostly paddocks, we stop on the south side of Mt. Taranaki to explore Wilkies Pools. The short hike take us through the Goblin Forest containing twisted kamahi trees draped in lush ferns and moss. At the end of the track is Kapuni Stream which has scoured a series of pools in the bedrock. The rock is so smooth it used as a waterslide in warmer weather! Small waterfalls cascade from each pool as we sit and take in its beauty. Mt. Taranaki supposedly dominates the skyline but there is heavy cloud blocking the view and threatening us with a downpour.

Wilkies Pools - Mt. Taranaki

Wilkies Pools - Mt. Taranaki


Wilkies Pools

Wilkies Pools

From the pools we finish the drive to Bruce and Nelle's in New Plymouth. They have a huge property in the city with a fruit orchard, plenty of gardens, and an amazing view of Mt. Taranaki (if it would clear off). We have an awesome feast, before Julie and Nelle rush off to see Te Radar. He is an environmental comedian who has his own reality tv show called 'Off the Radar'. Nelle received two free tickets and her friend cancelled on her, so Julie is the lucky one who gets to tag along. I stick around and get acquainted with Bruce while the sun sets and Mt. Taranaki slowly emerges. Bruce and I watch an amazing display of colour in the sky behind a silhouette of the dormant volcano.

Mt. Taranaki Sunset

Mt. Taranaki Sunset

When Julie and Nelle return they give us some one-liners from the show and it sounds like it was pretty funny. Before bed, we discuss with Nelle the possibility of tramping the Pouakai Circuit and when the best time would be during the week. The forecast is saying that tomorrow is looking sweet as, so we plan to start our two day hike in the morning.

The alarm sounds at 5am, and we bounce up and start to pack our gear for the hike. By 8:30am we are at the North Egmont Visitor's Centre located at the base of Mt. Taranaki. The skies are clear, the air is brisk, and we are pumped for the six hour hike to the Pouakai hut. The track starts out with hundreds of stairs and we climb steadily through montane forest and subalpine scrub. We are instantly rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape as the track emerges above the treeline. Our clear day doesn't last though, as the weather slowly changes on the mountain until we are blanketed in clouds. During the morning hike we pass the shear Dieffenbach Cliffs, the iron and manganese oxide stained Kokowai Stream, the active Boomerang Slip, and the vast Ahukawakawa Swamp. This track is packed with an array of different ecosystems and Julie is snapping pictures like crazy. The active Slip is a bit dicey and reminds us of the Kalalau Trail in Kaui. Before entering the slip there a sign reading “Danger Active Slip. One person at a time, no loitering”. Here, no loitering is for the safety of the loiterer – as at any time rocks could come crashing down.

Mt. Taranaki from Ergmont Visitor Centre

Mt. Taranaki from Ergmont Visitor Centre


Dieffenbach Cliffs on Pouakai Circuit

Dieffenbach Cliffs on Pouakai Circuit


Boomarang Slip on Pouakai Circuit

Boomarang Slip on Pouakai Circuit


Ahukawakawa Swamp

Ahukawakawa Swamp

After a nourishing stop at Holly Hut for lunch, we stash our packs, and decide to take the side trail to Bells Falls. The boardwalk trial descends down and around the Dome, a curved lava vent, to where the Ahukawakawa Swamp empties forming Bells Falls. The falls are about 31m and slide down between two steep cliffs. From the falls we return to Holly Hut, grab our bags, and start across the mammoth swamp. It is a sensitive area, a single footprint can remain for years. The boardwalks winds through the thick sphagnum moss and scrub-grass to a small bridge crossing a quiet stream. From the swamp the trail heads up one of the ridges that protrudes into the swamp like a huge finger. Dead mountain cedars killed by possums over the last 50 years stand like thousands of gnarly skeletons, amongst the re-emerging forest. The Taranaki area has the longest running vertebrate control program in NZ, in hopes to stop the mass destruction of their forests. Along the top of the ridge the winds and clouds whip through the tussocks as we finally reach the Pouakai Hut.

Julie and Ahukawakawa Swamp

Julie and Ahukawakawa Swamp


Mountain Cedar Killed by Possums

Mountain Cedar Killed by Possums

We hope for the skies to clear but the stubborn clouds stick around until mid-morning when we reach the tarns. I am desperate for a reflection of Mt. Taranaki in an alpine tarn, so we hang around for about an hour watching and waiting for a clearing. Luckily Mt. Taranaki peaks out between heavy clouds as they quickly roll past. From the tarns the track, which mostly consists of boardwalk, ladders, and stairs, wears away on our legs as we climb steady to the summit of Mt. Henry. Here we are greeted with more dense grey nothingness. We descend to below the treeline and the trail quickly becomes very rugged and the pace slows. We climb up and down, and in and out of steeply eroded river valleys crossing countless waterways. With hopes that each tree root we grasp is secure we lower ourselves down vertical inclines. After roughly six hours of some of roughest track we have travelled in New Zealand, we reach the road and walk the final stretch back to the car.

Sunrise at Pouakai Hut

Sunrise at Pouakai Hut


Tussock Bush

Tussock Bush


Mt. Taranaki and Alpine Tarn

Mt. Taranaki and Alpine Tarn


Mt. Taranaki

Mt. Taranaki


Julie Decending Root Ladder

Julie Decending Root Ladder


Pouakai Circuit Day Two

Pouakai Circuit Day Two

Back at Bruce and Nelle's we have to work overtime to make up our time spent tramping. I spend most of the week helping Bruce construct a drying cabinet behind his wood stove. This will be used for hanging herbs, dehydrating veggies, or drying wet gear, as the stove pipe gives off usable heat. Julie works at the Hive Taranaki Environment Centre for the week, helping put together the Water Module for the Sustainable Living Program. Speaking of sustainability, she rides an e-bike to work everyday and raves about the beautiful ride along the ocean.

We spend our time off work either at the beach or hiking as New Plymouth is surrounded by miles of primo surf beaches and great hiking trails. One evening we climb to the summit of Mt. Puritutu, a small lump on the coastline to take in a sunset. The quick and steep hike provides awesome views of Mt. Taranaki behind the sprawling city.

View of New Pymouth

View of New Pymouth

Saturday morning, prior to heading to WOMAD, we stop downtown to wander through Puke Ariki, New Plymouth's new museum displaying the area's rich Maori history. We quickly race through the museum as we are stoked to head to the concert. Jeremy and Ruth, previous wwoofing hosts in Westport, informed us of WOMAD and we have been eagerly waiting for the festival for months.

Puke Aruki - Moa Display

Puke Aruki - Moa Display


Wind Wand

Wind Wand

After parking we make our way into the venue, Brookland Bowl, and it really reminds us of Hillside, our hometown festival. The main stage is a huge natural amphitheatre with great sound and heaps of places to lounge around in the sun. We take in some great tunes, I eat a crazy amount of worldly fare, and Julie has a hay-day strolling through the artsy market. Trinity Roots, a favourite NZ band of ours, plays a great set as the sun is setting and the audience mellows out. We come across some unique music like Tanya Tagaq, an Inuit throat singer, and some awesome music such as Lawrence Arabia which we add to our playlist.

WOMAD Crowd

WOMAD Crowd


Tiki Taane

Tiki Taane


Tiki Taane

Tiki Taane


Tiki Taane

Tiki Taane


Richard Nunns Preforming

Richard Nunns Preforming


Ancient Maori Instruments

Ancient Maori Instruments


WOMAD Bowl of Brooklands

WOMAD Bowl of Brooklands

What a great time in New Plymouth and the Taranaki area! We both love the area and wish we could have more time to explore the surf coast further. Julie really wanted to take surfing lessons here but we ran out of time. Hopefully we can find another beach along our journey with gentle surf for a couple of shark biscuits (inexperienced surfer) like us.

Posted by ontarions 16:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Rotten Rotorua...

...a good sort of rotten.

semi-overcast 23 °C

This fine NZ morning brings us to the Tarawera Falls just outside of Rotorua to gaze upon a very unique waterfall. We seem to have waterfallitis as we are sick of them and the draw we once had to them has diminished. However, Julie promises that Tarawera Falls will rekindle the lost love. After a long drive through a managed pine forest, we enter into the nature reserve and spectacular native bush once again. Within minutes of starting down the track to the falls a dull roar turns thunderous and we emerge to a clear view of the culprit. Water is blasting out of a huge crack in the shear cliff face, a very interesting phenomenon. We continue along the path to the top of the falls, where the river funnels into large crevices in the rock and disappears before shooting out of the cliff face.

Tarawera Falls

Tarawera Falls

From the impressive Tarawera Falls we end up at the rotten egg smelling town of Rotorua to explore Kuirua Park. The free thermal park in the centre of town is home to a few bubbling hot pools and steam vents. Nothing too exciting but worth strolling through and pondering about what is really happening below ground.

We drive to the south end of town to reflect within St. Faith's Anglican Church on the crazy things happening in Christchurch. Sitting in a pew we gaze through a glass window, which is etched with an image of Jesus wearing a Maori cloak. On the outside of the window is Lake Rotorua making Jesus look as if he walking on water, we have giggle before moving on.

Maori Meeting House in Rotorua

Maori Meeting House in Rotorua

Further south of town, Julie spots a sign post directing us to “Mud Pools” so we investigate further. The sight and sound of gurgling thick grey mud is very impressive to watch. It is almost mesmerizing watching the unique designs being created in the mud. From here we stop at another thermal highlight, Kerosene Creek. The stream is roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit and it takes a bit of time to slip our feet in. A little further downstream the hot water stream mixes with a cold water stream making the perfect spot for us to soak.

Bubbling Mud Pool

Bubbling Mud Pool


Bubbling Mud Pool

Bubbling Mud Pool


Kerosene Creek Feet Soak

Kerosene Creek Feet Soak

It is getting late in the day, so we pull into the DOC campground at Lake Rerewhakaaitu. We have an awesome view of the lake and are looking forward waking up to sunrise over it. But its not long before six huge camper vans squeeze between us and the Lake, creating a wall of white. We sit in the car to eat dinner imaging a lovely mural painted across this empty white canvas. While listening to the radio we hear about an earthquake offshore of Japan and the incoming tsunami. The radio warns listeners to stay off beaches around NZ as a precaution. Luckily we are no where near the ocean and have nothing to worry about. We fall asleep with excitement about what tomorrow will bring at Waio-tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Sunrise at Lake Rerewhakaaitu

Sunrise at Lake Rerewhakaaitu

We arrive at Waio-tapu Thermal Wonderland bright and early to avoid the crowds that will soon take over. There is a heavy fog as we stroll past some pools of black bubbling water, caves colourfully stained with minerals, and pools of bright green water. At 10am we rush to Lady Knox Geyser to witness the daily eruption. It's kind of chintzy, since the geyser doesn't erupt naturally but is prompted by an “biodegradable surfactant” or organic soap which is added by a park ranger. This surfactant breaks through the surface tension of the cold water which is sitting on top of the hot water leading to its eruption. Once the geyser is finished spewing all over the crowd, we continue along the trail to some amazing pools. The Champagne Pool is lined with a rusty red boarder with steam slowly rising off the surface. The natural colours around the park are so vibrant and each colour is caused by different mineral elements being brought to the surface by steam.

Devil's Ink Pots at Thermal Wonderland

Devil's Ink Pots at Thermal Wonderland


Artist's Palette

Artist's Palette


The Devil's Bath

The Devil's Bath


Thermal Pool

Thermal Pool


Lady Knox Geyser

Lady Knox Geyser


Pied Stilts Hunting for Insects

Pied Stilts Hunting for Insects


Champagne Pool at Thermal Wonderland

Champagne Pool at Thermal Wonderland

From the Wonderland, we relax by Lake Rotorua over our picnic lunch before heading south to Ohinepane Campground. Ohinepane is located on the Whanganui River but further upstream from where we started our canoe adventure back in mid-February. After relaxing by the river with my fishing pole, we watch a strange sunset-rainbow. What does it mean?

Tiki Mural in Rotorua

Tiki Mural in Rotorua


Sunset Rainbow at Ohinepane Rec Reserve

Sunset Rainbow at Ohinepane Rec Reserve

Posted by ontarions 08:11 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Superb New Zealand Native Flora & Fauna...

...so much go'in on in that forest.

all seasons in one day 22 °C

On route to Gisborne, fresh from Pete and Jenny's, we hit the Rere Rockslide for some intense action. The natural 60m wet and wild rock slide is a great place to use that beat up boogie board or inner tube that is collecting dust in the garage. Pete supplied us with a boogie board that was cracked in the middle and it worked well. Julie and I take the plunge into the river waters at great speed, Julie avoiding at all costs to keep her head above the water. After all, the river runs through paddocks and is no crystal clear glacial stream.

Rere Rock Slide

Rere Rock Slide

Back on the road we head around the quiet highway along the east coast. We past many secluded bays ripe with surf and golden sand, before stopping at Anaura Bay for more boogie board entertaining. Other than beaches and heaps of Maori culture there isn't much to see along the drive. In Tikitiki, our guide book raves of St. Mary's Church and its intricately flax woven interior and detailed stain glass. I pay the two dollar donation and we venture inside. The walls are meticulously crafted with an array of dried flax creating geometric patterns that span every centimetre. Everyone's seat has a unique pillow to fart in while singing hallelujah to the Lord.

Boogie Down Julie

Boogie Down Julie


St. Mary's Church in Tikitiki

St. Mary's Church in Tikitiki


Seat Cushions in St. Mary's Church

Seat Cushions in St. Mary's Church

We cruise into Te Araroa Holiday Park, the closest campsite to the East Cape Lighthouse and one of the first places on earth to be greeted by the morning sun. The dude running the camp informs us to start the drive along the slow gravel road to East Cape by 6:00am, so shortly after dark we are both tucked into our fart sacks. The alarm sounds way too early for us to handle these days, the sun isn't even up! We quietly pack up and hit the road in search of a new days warming glow. Unfortunately, in the dark we start hiking up the wrong trail and end up in a shit strewn paddock tiptoeing around with only our jandles on. Finally we reach a suitable spot to watch the sunrise in peace. It's a hazy morning so the anticipated mind blowing colourful display is nothing more than a faint smear across the horizon. It is still something to be grateful for as we are one of the first people on earth to see the sunrise today. Smiling, we head back through the paddock past the cows, stopping at the ocean to wash our feet.

Sunrise from East Cape

Sunrise from East Cape

The rain arrives as we putter along the winding roads, through villages and past endless ocean front. We pass through Hawaii, yes Hawaii. But this place consists of clear cut forests and road construction. We don't make any stops until Tirohanga Dunes Conservation Area, where we stop for lunch among the dunes. As we graze, Julie reads about the restoration project being tested on the dunes. They are planted with native grasses which send out shoots and hold the sand, helping to hold it in place. From the beach we finish today's drive east of Opotiki at Wayne and Wei's to commence wwoofing domination once again.

First we met Wei, the mom, working away finishing up some sewing projects before they head off to Auckland for four days. She shows us to our quarters, a sweet little sleep-out, overlooking their property of native old growth forest. We are introduced to their two pet piggies, Captain and Daisy, two ducks, and chickens. All of which will be under our care while they are away. Home from school, in bounces Earina and Entelia, two very intelligent and wonderful kids. Julie is in awe at their fabulous heads of curls. Finally, Wayne arrives home from work and he is our personal nature guide as we stroll through the lush and dense old-growth forest on their property.

Relaxing on the Deck

Relaxing on the Deck


Family Pets

Family Pets


Tawa Tree with Rata Vine

Tawa Tree with Rata Vine


Piwakawaka (Fantail)

Piwakawaka (Fantail)

The forest is rich with diversity and is the most amazing stand of native trees we have seen on the North Island. He shows us a Puriri moth's larvae burrow covered over with a camouflaged membrane of lichens on the trunk of Putaputaweta tree. When the 10cm long larvae emerges from the borrow, as a moth, it has a 15cm wingspan and is a stunning shade of lime green. We stop at the small creek deep in the bush to spy on the Banded Cockatoos, a type of Galaxies species of fish that lives in muddy freshwater streams. His two girls come along for the walk too and being very observant they point out many interesting flora and fauna. One of which is an immense rata. Rata is a vine, which grows up and around trees and after hundreds of years it eventually encapsulates the tree and becomes a tree itself. This amazing rata tree was the selling feature of the property in Wayne's eyes and it was definitely spectacular!

X-Rated Giraffe Weevils

X-Rated Giraffe Weevils


Possum Trap

Possum Trap


Julie in Treehouse

Julie in Treehouse

While we are out exploring the new surroundings, Wei prepares a feast of smoked fish and veggies to fill us hungry travellers. Before they leave for Auckland they go over our wwoofing duties and other important household details. For the next four days we lounge around eating like kings and queens and getting fat. Just kidding, Julie cracks the whip and we are out wwoofing by 7:30am everyday. Julie takes on the huge job of caring for and re-potting neglected native trees at the nursery near the back of the property, while I replace a bridge over a stream on one of the many paths throughout the forest. It is about a 10-15 minute walk to work, and is definitely the best walk to work one could ever imagine. The forest is so lush and diverse that sometimes our 15 minute tramp takes a wee bit longer since there is so much to explore. We get intermittent heavy rains for four days, and one day we find ourselves running for cover and ending up soaked to the undies.

In the Office Re-Potting Native Trees

In the Office Re-Potting Native Trees


Julie Re-Potting Native Trees

Julie Re-Potting Native Trees


Nate Working on Bridge in Forest

Nate Working on Bridge in Forest

On Monday, the family returns from Auckland and Julie is pumped to help Wayne clear invasive weeds from the pond on the edge of the forest deep in the valley. We all slide into our waders and get prepped to enter the murky waters. As Julie is pulling on her waders, Wayne tells her to freeze. An Australian white-tailed spider, just over an inch long is crawling out of the waders. As he crushes it dead he tells us it is the biggest white-tail he has ever seen and that they give a nasty bite. I get the job of barging the heaps of soggy sludge and weeds from where Julie and Wayne are removing it to the dump sight where they will be covered with black tarps. The heat and darkness under the black tarps will eventually kill the weeds. It's a tough job but we get amazing results and hopefully the native wetland grasses will have a better chance at establishing themselves.

Pond at Wayne and Wei's

Pond at Wayne and Wei's


Native Wetland Grasses

Native Wetland Grasses


Pulling up Invasives in Pond

Pulling up Invasives in Pond


That's Full of Invasive Weeds

That's Full of Invasive Weeds

Wayne also has us helping him on the beach measuring dune profiles to monitor erosion on his test plots. Turns out that Wayne is the force behind the dune stabilization work at Tirohanga Dunes Conservation Area, the beach we checked out before reaching Wanye and Wei's home. At each beach he has 2 profiles through planted dunes, and 1 profile through an unplanted dune. The results are showing that the planted beaches are in much better shape than the unplanted. Julie loves to learn and help with anything do with environmental problems and implementing solutions. I feel super lazy working on these gorgeous beach and I know that if my job was anywhere close to a beach, I wouldn't be laying too many bricks.

Dune Planting Site at Tirohanga Dunes Conservation Area

Dune Planting Site at Tirohanga Dunes Conservation Area

Julie and I always try to work longer days in order to earn a day off from wwoofing to explore the area around where we are situated. With our hard earned day off in the Opotiki area we scoot over to get an aerial view of the Ohiwa Harbour and ocean view. The skyline has two main features, Whale Island a nature reserve, and White Island, an active volcano. From the shore, 50 kms away, billowing steam hangs over the island like a warning to all, that a possible eruption could be immanent. We looked into scuba diving around the island but the costs were insane. Instead we opted to wait and dive north of Auckland in the future.

White Island - An Active Volcano

White Island - An Active Volcano

Back at Wei and Wayne's we realize that we are super spoiled here. Wei loves to cook new and flavourful meals from her Malaysian background. We love everything she makes and its fun to try new foods. Their property also gave us the opportunity to stroll through the dark forest with strings of glowworms twinkling like the stars in the sky. It was such a surreal experience, and Julie said it felt like she was in a fairytale as we strolled along.

Sunest from Wayne and Wei's Driveway

Sunest from Wayne and Wei's Driveway


Evening Walk

Evening Walk


Glowworms

Glowworms


Tree Fern under Night Sky

Tree Fern under Night Sky

After such at great week of wwoofing and strolling past 1000 year old trees everyday on our way to work, it is hard to move on. We are heading to Rotorua, to be anointed in sulphur gas seeping from thousands of pores in the earth. So long Wayne, Wei, Earina and Entelia, we will miss your company and the native bush that surrounds your sweet home.

Huge Kahikatia Trees

Huge Kahikatia Trees

Posted by ontarions 12:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Pete & Jenny's Mahanga Beach Hide-A-Way...

...Lake Waikaremoana is awesome!

all seasons in one day 25 °C

We start out this morning with plans to explore the Taupo thermal area but after getting lost and ending up miles from our intended destination, we end up at an op-shop looking for used merino wool garments. While browsing within the shop, a television broadcasts news of a devastating aftershock crumbling the city of Christchurch. It's hard to digest news about hundreds of people trapped under debris and hundreds more already confirmed dead. Instantly we worry about the friends we have met from the area, and can only hope for the best. The eastern suburbs of Sumner are hit the worst, with cliff-side homes being crushed by car sized boulders. Water and electricity is not available to most of the city and it will be weeks before these systems are back up and running. Julie and I figure we better send news home of our safety to calm worried friends and relatives.

On CHCH we listen to updates about the quake and listen to the support pouring in from families around NZ to the people in need. People living just outside the city who are lucky enough to be unaffected are opening their homes to families in need. The generosity of the kiwis shines through once again. As we listen we drive east to Napier, a city devastated in the past by a massive quake. Napier was totally destroyed after an earthquake struck in 1931 and the city was completely rebuilt in art deco architecture.

National Tobacco Co. in Napier

National Tobacco Co. in Napier

Our first stop in Napier is at the I-Site to check the tidal schedule, as are hoping to hike the beach to the Black Reef Gannet Colony south of Napier at Cape Kidnappers. It turns out we can avoid getting swept out to sea by the incoming tide if we hurry to the Cape. The beach walk turns into a full on hike since it takes two hours to reach the point. It is a lovely hike of sand and mist, a vast ocean sprawls out to the left and soaring clay cliffs that have been scoured by pounding waves reach into the sky on our right. Arriving at Cape Kidnappers, we observe the Gannet Colony, a species of seabird, which are congregated on the rocky shoreline. Young fuzzy chicks feed on regurgitated goodness from parents returning from the sea. The young literally stick their head inside the parents mouth to enjoy fish barf and they can't seem to get enough of the stuff. It is a riveting display of nature and worth the walk but with high tide approaching we decide it is time to make the long return trip.

Feeding Young Gannet

Feeding Young Gannet


Young Gannet at Cape Kidnappers

Young Gannet at Cape Kidnappers


Looking Along Coast from Cape Kidnappers

Looking Along Coast from Cape Kidnappers


Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers

Back in Napier, the sun sets while we cruise the art deco infused streets in amazement. As we follow the walking tour outlined in our Lonely Planet guide book, it really feels like we are strolling through a movie set. Darkness sets in as the tour ends along the ocean front in a park with a hypnotizing waterfall spitting an array of neon colours.

Daily Telegraph Building in Napier

Daily Telegraph Building in Napier


Catholic Church in Napier

Catholic Church in Napier


Napier Water Fountain

Napier Water Fountain

The only DOC campground is located an hour north of Napier at Lake Tutira, so we say good-bye to the city frozen in the 30's. Rain is falling hard against the windshield now and we are dreading setting up the tent. Until now, we haven't had to put up or take down the tent in much precipitation, but tonight is our night. The dark campsite is scattered with sleeping travellers as we throw our shelter up in the headlights of our car and hunker in out of the rain.

The next day, our arrival to Pete and Jenny's at Mahanga Beach surprises them because they didn't get Julie's last e-mail. Their caravan for wwoofers isn't currently liveable, so she puts us in one of their guest accommodations for the night. We chat over dinner and Jenny fills us in on the long court battle they are involved with regarding the Council permitting development on coastal area that would impact a freshwater stream among other features. Julie is very interested, so Jenny invites her to join the community meeting on the subject. It turns out the meeting is at David Trubridge's bach! He is a famous NZ artist who creates furniture and lighting, among other things, out of sustainable bamboo resources. Check out his unique designs at www.davidtrubridge.com

Pete and Jenny's Pad

Pete and Jenny's Pad


Mahanga Beach

Mahanga Beach

As for wwoofing duties, we are constantly told to relax, and multiple times we are told to take the rest of the day off because we are working too hard! But being stubborn Ontarions we continue to work until we have put in our proper hours. We clear the overgrown veggie patch, and collect heaps of seaweed from the ocean which is a stones throw away. We spread the seaweed around the base of the fruit trees as a mulch which provides beneficial minerals to the trees. After wwoofing in the sweltering heat jumping into the cooling ocean to rinse the garden off is refreshing. Julie doesnt last long though as a Portugese Man of War (jellyfish) scares her from the water. On Sunday heavy rains force us inside where we make awesome buckwheat pancakes and talk reflexology with Pete. He has a great book covering essential reflexology techniques and he allows us to scan multiple pages to help with whatever is ailing us.

Julie Working in The Garden

Julie Working in The Garden


Morning on Mahanga Beach

Morning on Mahanga Beach

Many people we have talked to along this trip through NZ have highly recommended tramping the area around Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera National Park. So we pick a couple of sunny days to take a break from wwoofing and get a taste of North Island wilderness. We take the trek up to the Pukenui Bluffs over-looking Lake Waikaremoana and the dense green carpet tightly protecting it. The steep climb, aided by tree roots forming perfect natural steps, rises to some excellent vantage points.

Lake Waikaramoana Track

Lake Waikaramoana Track


Lake Waikaremoana from Track

Lake Waikaremoana from Track


Lake Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana

Fishing is suppose to be sweet as around the Lake, so after the hike I toss the lures around a bit. One nice brown trout shows interest but is fearful of the unknown. After giving up on fishing we make a trip to Papakorito Falls before setting up camp at majestic Rosie Bay. I give the fishing another go here while Julie organizes camp and cuddles up with her book. Winds are gusting across the Lake and fishing sucks, so we head to bed after some much needed reflexology.

Rosie Bay on Lake Waikaremoana

Rosie Bay on Lake Waikaremoana

We decide to explore the Onepoto Caves first thing in the morning before heading back to Pete and Jenny's place. The caves were just a series of crevices under mammoth boulders but is a nice change of pace from climbing to an alpine summit.

Onepoto Caves

Onepoto Caves

With the remaining day, we scoot back to Mahanga Beach to finish up a promised wwoofing duty. Jenny really wanted me to extend the hearth around their fireplace with some grey river stones from the area. We bombard them with our news to finish off the hearth asap, since we want to leave for East Cape early in the morning. Everyone helps to prep the work area, gather the materials and Julie mixes the mud. Within a couple of hours the job is done and they are tickled with the finished result. Jenny whips up an array of vegetarian delights for tea (dinner) to show her gratitude for all our hard work.

Little Stone Job

Little Stone Job

Pete and Jenny are excellent hosts, incredibly kind, easy-going, and easy to talk to. They have so much to share with us and we chat well into the evening. Julie cherishes the last night in our lavish accommodations and in the morning we clean up and say our goodbyes. Jenny jots down a couple of her recipes at Julie's request and Pete goes over some massage techniques for the persisting tendinitis in my arm. Pete also gives us his sister's contact info in Australia and insists that we should spend a night there. They send us off with heaps of produce from their garden. We are so grateful for meeting these amazing people.

We head towards Gisborne, looking for the natural rock slip'n'slide...

Mahia Peninsula

Mahia Peninsula

Posted by ontarions 01:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

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