Australasia | New Zealand – green eyes boucing and taching in the gum…
hi guys it’s me again!!
i am in tongariro national park today- was planning on doing some hiking and got all packed up, took a few steps out into the hail and then decided to stuff it and go hiking tomorrow – so here i am on the computer instead. i wonder how all those other people are doing who started off on hikes and on canoe trips today… hopefully the weather is better on that part of the mountain!!
i haven’t covered much distance since i spoke to you last but have been enjoying myself puttering around at my own pace 8)
i have viewed, walked on and taken pictures of 500 million different beaches, pale yellow sand to black sand. warm sunshine to cold blowing rain. stayed on a kahoe farm for a few days hanging out with some nice americans and swiss german girls, eating pizza and italian gelato fresh cooked by our friendly italian sports fanatic host. went hiking one day and discovered the closest thing to quicksand i have ever seen!! we laughed as we attempted to remove ourselves from it – taking pictures to impress our posterity with the depth of out mudiness. i think it may have taken me a full 5 minutes to get one leg out!! the trail seemed very wild to us with fallen trees and brush and is this the trail or that? knee high grasses …hey i see an orange marker!! over hill, over vale… i have come to the opinion since then however that that was probably a normal and quite well maintained kiwi trail!!
also enjoyed kayaking in the whangaroa harbour with a penguin bobbing around beside me and big eagle rays in a shallow cove – we got out of the boats and could walk right up to them – they didn’t mind us – i hear they aren’t too nice to step on though.
then i took a tour up to the tip of nz – cape reinga – and as i dozed on the bus i remembered why i don’t like tours, but it was nice walking on the beach – the ocean on the west coast is much wilder than the east with row after row of wild breaking waves and signs everywhere warning people not to swim. a lot of people drive their cars on the west coast beaches and some of them make it off the beach. the others are reclaimed by the sand – and we see just the top of one old rusty jalopy poking out of the drifts. it was a strange to see the mixing of the tasman and pacific oceans as a line of turbulent white foam shooting straight out from the tip of the isle – i guess it never occurred to me the idea of oceans running into each other. had a bit of a frolic riding tobogans down the giant sand dunes – i liked sand dunes this day.
the next day i took off from kaikoura for a long hike and promptly got lost looking for the starting point. perhaps i should have taken the hint….? as i walked i began to notice pieces of kauri gum on the ground!! lucky me!! the northland had a boom around the turn of the century – similar to our gold rush in wyoming except the people here mined kauri gum. fossilized sap from the massive kauri tree. towns boomed when gum was discovered and busted when it ran out. museums in this area are filled with examples of polished, carved, and ornamented kauri gum. so i felt like a prospector myself and ran around happily digging up the small chunks, i even left some behind there was so much, i didn’t want to be greedy and take it all – let someone else have some fun too!! so high off the success of my kauri gum find i returned to my car to try to find the hike again.
i finally did find the river i was to hike up and started walking – it was late in the day by then but i figured i could just walk a while and then turn around halfway to sunset. as i splashed through the shallow water though the brush got thicker and thicker, hmmm… i wonder if this is the right river, could this really be a trail? and i was getting a little too friendly with the local fauna. the arachnids had apparently been very busy here and i was busily destroying their art, mostly with my head. it’s a lovely feeling the satisfaction of climbing to the top of a waterfall or through a thick spot of brush to stand upright again and feel little tickly threads all over your face. i began to get the creepy crawlies – hmmmm….sure have run through a lot of webs i wonder where all the spiders are… hmmm wonder what happens to the spider when the web breaks …. what’s that tickly spot on the back of my leg, under my shirt, in my hair …. aagh!!!! don’t think about it don’t think about it – so i developed an ingenious invention and picked up a stick to wave in front of me to break the spider webs – must have looked pretty clever walking along waving that stick up and down with each step 8) it became compulsive after a few steps, the birds must have been wondering what kind of mutated critter i was!! after crawling through this far i certainly wasn’t going to turn around and go back through that!! i couldn’t wait to see the wide open sand dunes at the top. then came the second surprise – rivers don’t just vanish they first turn to quicksand and then vanish – but never fear some more smashing through the bush around the quicksand and i was on warm golden dry sand dune sand hurray!!! i was never so happy to walk up a sand dune!! i stripped off the unecessary layers and the shoes and shook out all the spiders (never did actually see one but the mind is a powerful thing!) discovered i had lost my map somewhere on the way up but certainly i could find my way north and east over the dunes to the beach on the other side. it was already to the halfway to sunset point to i started looking for the clear way down. walk to edge of dune, jungle, walk to edge of other dune, jungle, walk to edge of next look down, jungle and so on and so forth until i eventually manage to find a way down and arrive at the beach just in time to see the last sliver of sun disappear into the ocean. hmmm… good thing i brought a torch. well it shouldn’t be too hard to follow the ocean along even after dark as long as i pick the right direction. hmm… must be this way. walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, 2hrs later a house green eyes bouncing in the light of my headlamp ruf ruf ruf (who’s in my yard what are you doing there) ‘nice doggy..nice doggy’ oh good this is a nice doggy, his owners eye the lone nighttime wanderer with suspicion but confirm that she is wondering the right direction down the beach… walk walk, crunch, crunch, piles of shells on the beach – hurray i can’t help searching the beaach with my flashlight and picking up shells – too bad there’s no moon tonight – i remember the book saying that this stretch should not be walked at high tide, the farmer and hostel owner saying ‘ hmmm… there are rocky bits i think you could just about make it’ – well it’s high tide but seems alright so far – it’s funny though, knowing that it is high tide makes the ocean seem ferocious, tongues and tentacles of water reaching up the beach to grab me – i realize that although i usually am quite happy walking through the shallow lap of the edge of the waves tonight i am dashing away from them as though they are poisonous. ahhh… don’t let the waves get you!! haha i reassure myself that there are no sea monsters in new zealand… at least none they have lived to tell about !! 8/ i hear clicking and shine my lamp down between the rocks to see large crabs scuttle away from the light. more boucing green eyes, another pushover guard dog allows himself to be sweet talked by the unwitting intruder. anyways – i did finally arrive back at my car at about 1030 – funny how things seem so much scarier and more adventurous in the dark – the planned 4 hour walk turned into 8 and i checked into the first place that would take me and had a long hot shower. next time i will not depart so late on a hike and when the farmer says, hmmm that’s a pretty rough track i will listen!!
next i carried on to another farm and then the big forests of the north. their kauri trees are not as tall but they grow out instead of up and their width is massive!! found more kauri gum, lucky me! played on the dismal beach where the piano was filmed, black sand but sparkling in the sun, big sea anenomes and massive starfish in the tidal pools. went back to auckland and spent some more time with the lovely home stay family, watched the america’s cup boats come in and out of the harbour.
and sailed on a retired boat that competed in the 98 race. very exciting!! and hard work working those grinders!! the races had been cancelled because of excessive wind but we still got to go!! ithink it was 25 knots of wind and boat speed of 10-12 knots but im not used to knots so im knot sure what that means, but seemed fast – we got to steer the boat as well and could really feel the wind when it changed direction and caught the sails.
but again i must go – someone is waiting to use the computer and i have been on here too long. i hope you are all well and that you will send me your news!!