A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

Bay of Islands

Glow worm caves

sunny 22 °C

What a breathtaking site sailing into the Bay of Islands which is New Zealand's original capital. It is a resort town right near where the tenders land. We would have like to go to Russell across the way which is a more historic little town.

We board our bus to find one seat only. But at the back there is what looks like a cushioned bed. We settling laughing. The people on the bus are crowded. It is not long before one of the staff make their way up the aisle as I peek from behind the toilet. He laughs and apologizes as we should have been put on the other bus. No problem we make our way there And as we board they pull the reserved signs from the front seats and we sit there. Front row!

The driver keeps us entertained with all sorts of tidbits about many things.

We arrive at the caves and I quickly enter a small cave and find a geocache and unload a TB that wanted to get to Auckland. The caves are so cool. They say Bill gates came to see the caves arriving in an entourage with three helicopters.

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They were discovered when a women who had run away from her husband had hidden in the caves, she had been stealing sweet potatoes from a farm, when they saw the smoke in the hills they decided to investigate and found her, the sweet potatoes and the cave.

We made our way through the caves with every forth or fifth person carrying a lantern. Of course at times we put them out and listened to the water running under our feet, the drips of water from the stalactites and watched the little dots of green light, the glow worms. The brighter they were the hungrier they were. They grow to only 2.5 cm and it is only the tails that glow. They are evenly spread out because they will eat their neighbour. They drop a thread down covered in their sticky saliva to catch other insects to eat. After exiting we had a bush walk up and over the hill back to our bus.

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Stop two was Kawakawa where we explored the bathrooms. They are a very funky design with the back walls made of wine bottles, curved floors and walls and def not wheelchair friendly. We had tea, er Roger had coffee, Tanika had juice and I had ginger beer, plus we sampled some local bakery items. Then onto the Koari forest.

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They are huge trees, at least in diameter, but do not grow as tall as our Douglas firs. There were only three types of bats here originally. The rats, possums, pigs etc have all been introduced. There are no snakes. This area gets lots of rain but it is still classed a temperate rainforest. There is a very creative trap for the possum. It is solar and builds up a charge. At night it baits itself. When a possum enters the trap it is electrocuted and the trap expels the body and the whole process starts again. They don't have enough of these as there are still millions of possum.

It is hard to stay awake on the bus and we all doze. Again the roads are narrow and wind up and down and around the hills. Time for a nap when we get back so,that we can dance tonight and stay awake for the show.

Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland

Coast To Coast and a Sheep Ranch

sunny 24 °C

What a day. I am sitting right now observing the action downtown. The days have gone from an early sunset, just after six to it still being bright out at 7:30. We arrived in port late so everyone was ready to get off at ten so it took a while.

Our guide was waiting and we were loaded on a very nice bus. 28 of us.

Our first stop was the Rain forest only they call it a bush. It's not tall enough to be called a forest. The views were great and the sun was in and out until it decided to stay out for the rest of the day. We took a gander at the different trees and flowers. One bird of prey, now extinct had been known to take off with Maori children.

The view was great. New Zealand was a surprise to me. The roads are narrow, very narrow and Auckland is spread out over a vaste area. They do not build up here, but out so that all can have their little green 1/4 acre.

Our guide, Stu, had so much to say. Something to say on politics, war, housing, roads, immigration, and more.

We stopped at Soljans winery and had a simple wine tasting. The grapes are grown elsewhere in New Zealand and brought here for processing. They had a string of bad years so they quit growing the grapes here. We tried Founders Tawny Port, Fusion Sparkling Muscat, Kumeu Pinot Gris, and a couple more. I liked all but one.

Then we were on to the farm where Stu's wife Donna was waiting. Donna is part Maori and part something, he was half Irish, half Dutch. The two daughters were also there, Emma and Mary. Donna gave us a Maori greeting and toured us through their home. It is the only home Stu has ever known. Spreading gloriously in front of,the house is a tree planted in 1922 by his grandmother. The farm was once 500 acres and now sits at 50. So they are a small farm and tourism company.

Lunch was all wonderful, home grown foods. Lamb chops,with a tamarind chutney, zucchini in a tomato based sauce, little quiches, sweet potatoes, green salad and fresh bread. The tables were lined along the deck that hugged two sides of the house. Doors led to the deck from four different rooms. The house is so bright.

We wandered out to visit with the sheep before we were introduced to the tree that would be planted to offset our carbon footprint. This is done for each tour. Our tree is E19 and I forget what it is. We met one of the dogs. This one is bred to bark at the sheep to get them moving. The border collie then takes over and herds the sheep. She very obligingly barked on command.

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We made our way to the shearing shed stopping to talk with the sheep and a rabbit, a big big rabbit with lop ears, along the way. Stu said a good shearer can do a sheep in less than a minute, he takes about five minutes to shear one now. In sheep shearing contests competitors will screen the sheep first and choose only the ones that they can do the fastest. He demonstrated how a struggling sheep will calm right down once you flip it and settle it on its buttocks. It was like magic. Actually Stu said it is an acupressure point.

We boarded the bus again to head to the beach. A majestic beach....like long beach. Big rollers, some cliffs and a long black sand beach.

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For a Saturday it was very quiet. We walked along a hard packed path to the cliffs edge to a Gannet Colony. Hundred of Gannets evenly spaced out on the level areas. They are loud and amusing. When they change position with short flights it makes me think of the bird flying challenge on the Wii.

DSCN2227.jpgThe black sand sparkles in the sun and is so soft and fine I want to run my toes through it.

We return to the farm for tea and Pavlova. Oh my the kiwis are have green and yellow flesh and the strawberries are huge and sweet….remember it is spring here.

We did not stop at the honey center but Stu gave us a lozenge from there. They honey is called Manuka honey and has antibiotic properties. I decided to get some for our table mates as a fair number of people on the ship are getting colds. Not me, I had a sore throat for a couple of days, but it is gone.

Last stop was at a local craft place, but we decided to make a run for a geocache, so far today we had not gotten close enough to one to make the grab. Of course we are on time and have to wait for shoppers.

Back to the ship and a run to McDonalds for internet....we have directions for our Sydney apartment, a flight time change of six hours for one flight and a train schedule change. I look forward to a little more internet time to post this and read my stack of mail.

Posted by Mari Anne 19:18 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland bus sheep tour geocache Comments (0)

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