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New Zealand North: Auckland

Our Trip to New Zealand- North Island 24th- 31st January 2016

Sunday 24th January Welcome to Auckland City

After leaving the cold UK at 8.30pm and arriving in a dark Hong Kong at 9pm (local time), it was a pleasant relief to fly over a sunny looking North Island and land in the daylight at Auckland. “Uncle” met us, gave us our itinerary and maps, then drove us to our hotel (Waldorf Stadium Apartments IMG_1801.jpg
Hotel, Quay Park Waterfront) and it was still sunny and light (2pm). The hotel was apartment style, which turned out to be quite typical on our trip around NZ, with separate bedroom, laundry area and kitchenette. We strolled down to the Viaduct Harbour and had a pleasant beer upstairs on the balcony overlooking the harbour at the Snapdragon bar-restaurant. Viaduct Harbour was a marina for smaller vessels, some very plush- it’s been said that there are more boats than people in Auckland! A lovely old oak schooner was moored there- the Arcturus. Built in Maine in 1930, she is one of only nine boats from the John Alden 390 series. General George Patton and his wife sailed the yacht to Hawaii where he was stationed. At a later date he sailed her back to the west coast when war seemed imminent. After an active life cruising the Pacific, it was time for Arcturus to have an overhaul and refit in New Zealand.

IMG_3195.JPGAuckland is New Zealand's largest city, situated on a narrow neck of land between Manukau Harbour and Waitemata Harbour. Each suburb has its own atmosphere, from fashion and cuisine on Ponsonby Road to native bush and beaches of the West Coast. The creation of Auckland’s unique landscape is part of an ancient love story. A battle between two iwi (tribes) created deep cracks in the earth, thrusting up the volcanic cones scattered across the region. Fertile soil and resources of Waitemata and Manukau harbours have drawn people to this region for centuries. Once hundreds of canoes could be seen in Auckland’s harbours, giving the name Tāmaki Herenga Waka (gathering of canoes). Today the waters are sprinkled with hundreds of boats and Auckland is referred to as the ‘City of Sails’. From the first Māori waka (canoes) and colonial ships, Auckland has attracted settlers. One of the earliest Europeans was John Logan Campbell. He and a fellow Scot, William Brown, pitched their tent at Commercial Bay and founded Brown & Campbell. From early on government officials and other settlers were separate. The officials located their houses on a ridge overlooking Official Bay to the west of Commercial Bay. That it was colloquially referred to as Exclusion Bay shows the low regard in which government officials were held. The next bay was Mechanics Bay, named after the carpenters and tradesmen there. Soon after founding the town, the government divided the land up for sale. This attracted land jobbers from all over New Zealand and Australia. Demand outstripped supply and record prices were reached. At an average of £600/acre (as much as London), it outstripped Governor Sir William Hobson's aim of £100/acre. There were 800 buyers for 119 allotments. Some bought, subdivided, and resold for profit in the same day. By the 1890s, the city had a cosmopolitan flavour, with dozens of languages in bustling streets. This continued through the 20th century, particularly the 1950s immigrants from Hungary, Holland and Yugoslavia. Many rural people relocated to seek work in the city, and large numbers of rural Māori migrated to Auckland, followed by migrant workers from the Pacific Islands, peaking in the 1960s. Today Aucklanders come from all over the world; 56% European, 11% Maori, 13% Pacific Island, 12% Asian.
IMG_6315.JPG Boat Rock at sunset
The legend of Tāmaki Makaurau
Long ago, the land between the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges was flat. Tāmaki Makaurau is the Māori name for Auckland. The people living in this land were the Patupaiarehe, a fairy people. One iwi (tribe) lived in Waitakere forest on Auckland's west coast, and another in Hunua forest in the south. They generally kept out of each other's way but on moonless nights the teenagers would race silently to the other iwi area, returning with a token. One night Hui, son of Chief Waitakere, returned empty handed and his friends teased him. The next night, Hui did not return with the others. When the rangatira (chief) Waitakere found his son missing, he summoned a great war party. Just as they were about to start their war chant, they saw two figures running towards them. It was Hui, holding the hand of a beautiful young woman. "This is my love," he said. She was Wairere, the daughter of Chief Hunua. Hunua was furious when he found her missing, and even more when he discovered she was with Hui. A war party gathered and set off across the plain to reclaim Wairere. But Waitakere saw them coming. As they approached, the tohunga (high priest) of Waitakere reached into the earth and took some of its hidden magic, mixing it into a deadly spell and cast it at the Hunua. Some fell, but the rest marched on. Again, the tohunga reached into the earth and threw spells at the advancing party. This time, the Hunua fell to the ground dead. Suddenly, the ground heaved, a chasm opened and huge rocks were flung into the air by the wrath of Mataaho, guardian of the Earth's secrets. He was furious with the tohunga for using earth magic without permission. He woke his brother Ruaumoko, atua (god) of earthquakes and volcanoes, and their combined anger opened a hole in the Earth. The tohunga tumbled into the hole and Mataaho melted him so he became part of the magic he had stolen. The rest of the Waitakere fled, but they could not run from the rage of Mataaho and Ruaumoko who hid the sun with thick clouds of smoke and threw rocks into the air, melting them before they touched the ground. Years later, two last two Patupaiarehe sat on a hill overlooking the Tamaki volcanic field; Wairere and Hui. They have since passed to the underworld, but their folly can still be seen in the volcanoes of Tamaki.

We followed with a short stroll around the Viaduct Harbour before checking in for our Auckland Harbour sailing cruise with dinner at 5:45pm. This was run by Explore Group/ Snapdragon Restaurant from their berth at Viaduct Harbour (a small boat berthing just off Auckland Harbour and entered by a swing bridge). Along with us was a large Indian family celebrating a birthday. The sailing cruise started by leaving Viaduct Harbour at 6 pm under the raised Viaduct Bridge, which is always manned (apparently it pre dates the road, so has to be lifted by demand, though luckily only small vessels shelter here). We sailed along the waterfront apartments (very nice looking, but apparently their piles are sinking) around the corner to Hobson Harbour where the National Maritime Museum keeps its sea vessels- the scow Ted Ashby, the wooden 19th C sailing vessel Breeze, a small steamboat SS Puke and a replica Maori sea canoe (wara). http://www.maritimemuseum.co.nz Behind them we could see Auckland’s only high tower- the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City. Built in 1997, it is 328 metres tall, from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. It has become an iconic landmark in Auckland's skyline due to its height and unique design.
The cruise then took us out into the harbour itself and towards the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which we passed under. Harbour Bridge, built 1959, copies the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge but has itself become a symbol of Auckland. It was tolled until 1984 when the construction costs had been repaid. This part of NZ is the thinnest as the Pacific comes right in to Auckland Harbour on the right and the Tasman Sea right up on the left, leaving a small spit of land between and just below the city centre, along Portage Road it's a mere 1km between the inlet of the Pacific to the Tasman. Unless it silts up you can see NZ becoming 3 islands in the future! From here we could see from the harbour out to sea and the large islands of Rangitoto and Motutapu (and the smaller islands of Rakino and Motuihe beyond). Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island, an iconic, easily visible landmark of Auckland with its distinctive symmetrical shield volcano cone rising 260 metres high over the Hauraki Gulf. Rangitoto is the most recent (700 years ago) and the largest of 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. It is separated from the mainland of Auckland by the Rangitoto Channel. Since WWII it has been linked by a causeway to the much older, non-volcanic Motutapu Island. Rangitoto is Māori for 'Bloody Sky', (from Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua: The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka (canoe) who was badly wounded on the island, battling the Tainui iwi (tribe). Both islands have been made pest free and native species like kiwis reintroduced.

We headed into the harbour, away from the sea, passing Chelsea Sugar Factory/ Refinery (the main sugar factory in NZ) pic 1 below, http://www.chelsea.co.nz/our-story/ and its wharf. Estab 1882, more than 130 years later, the refinery still operates from its original site. The New Zealand Sugar Company is now one of New Zealand’s top 100 companies and Chelsea Sugar has become one of New Zealand’s most beloved and iconic brands. On our left was the posh South Shore suburb of Ponsonby and to the right we then passed the area of Chelsea, an empty area with pretty wooded coves (Kauri Point), small beaches (Kendall Bay pic 2 below) and moorings (Kauri Point Wharf pic 3 below). At the end of the harbour, close to the large Boat Rock, we stopped and had dinner- salmon blinis and chicken salad with bubbles. The sun was super, warming without being too hot and a warm breeze. Then as it turned to pre-dusk (8pm) we headed back with a nice pudding (Steve had pavlova- had no idea this was a bone of contention between Aussies and Kiwis as to the inventor; personally always thought it was Australia but turns out best not to suggest this in NZ). We started back, past the rocks of Waitemata Harbour and Watchman Island. As we passed under the Harbour Bridge the sunset over the harbour was beautiful and by the time we reached the Viaduct Bridge it was def dusk+. We walked back past the cruise ships (HUGE) and the early 20th C Ferry Building. The Auckland Ferry Terminal, sometimes called the Downtown Ferry Terminal, is the hub of the Auckland ferry network that connects Auckland City with North Shore City and some locations in Waitakere City and Manukau City. Opened in 1912 its architectural style is Edwardian Baroque. We tried the Britomart supermarket, as water and snacks for tomorrow would be useful, but gave up when we saw the queue to pay. The long travel had finally caught up with us, so we got to bed around 10pm local time, which was pretty good going!

Posted by PetersF 12:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland sunset harbour cruise island north Comments (0)

New Zealand North: Paihia

Monday 25th January Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

We woke at the perfectly respectable time of 7.30 and went down for breakfast, where a very chatty German waitress talked to us. She had previously worked at a Cornish hotel, before coming to NZ and she said she would move after a couple of years somewhere new. Then we waited for our car hire collection. The car did not take too long to sort out and soon we were heading out of Auckland in a nice upgraded Volvo on State Highway 1/ Northern Gateway toll road. We went over the Harbour Bridge and into the outskirts, then countryside. We knew it was a toll road, but had been told we could pay late by logging onto www.tollroad.govt.nz and paying for both directions (which we did when we returned to Auckland. It was NZ$2.20 each way, which was very cheap. Quite quickly we saw the sign to Puhoi, so took a short detour to admire it.
Puhoi Town turned out to be a hamlet 50 km north of Auckland on beautiful Puhoi River. One of New Zealand’s two ethnic villages and gateway to Matakana Coast & Country, it was settled 1863 from Bohemia (Czech Republic) and retains its Bohemian atmosphere. Its story of European settlement is well documented by the Bohemian museum. The beautiful Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul was built in 1880. The wooden church has 22 stained glass windows and the altar painting is an exact copy of the one in the church in Bohemia.
After Puhoi the green, gently rolling hills and streams became more hilly before settling back into more gentle areas around Warkworth. The “towns” on our route were small and quite old fashioned compared to the UK.
After we had passed through Warkworth we headed along the thickly wooded Dome Valley with Dome Forest to our left. The valley opened out as arrived at Wellsworth and after that Te Hana- again like seaside towns of 1970s UK. At the village of Topuni we passed from Auckland to Northland district. The weather was lovely and sunny and we could see for miles into the centre of North Island. As we got to Brynderwyn (I assume a Welsh connection), it became forest-covered high hills- the Brynderwyn Ranges (apparently this village was the scene of the worst crash in NZ history- 15 dead in 1963). The Brynderwyn Range, and the Tangihuas and Taipuha hills are littered with remnants of great blocks of rock lifted, lowered and twisted by Jurassic tectonic plate movement. As the last Ice Age melted, the Hatea, Mangapai and Otaika river valleys were flooded, forming Whangarei Harbour. There are two natural lakes in Whangarei District, Lake Ora north west of the city and a dune lake near Ruakaka Racecourse. We crossed Hatea, Ngunguru and Mangapai rivers. Whangarei District has 270 km of coastline characterised by irregular rocky headlands, sheltered harbours, sandy bays, estuaries and tidal mud flats. Travelling along the coast, the dramatic landscape was defined by deep dry river valleys, running to beaches and bays off the coastline. Large islands include Poor Knights Islands, Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock. Poor Knights Islands are heavily eroded rims of a large volcano (1000m high, 15-25km diameter), which erupted 10 million years ago, but Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock are from a group of volcanoes only 20 million years old.

Leaving the Ranges the road headed towards the coast, so as it was time for a break we made a short detour to Ruakaka where we parked and went for a walk along the beautiful beach. The beach is in Bream Bay with a number of visible islands (Hen and Chicken Group) in front. The largest is Taranga (Hen) Island, with another, Lady Alice Island to its left (Whatupuke Island and Coppermine Island behind). The others are the smaller island/ islets of West Chicken, Wareware, Muriwhenua and Pupuha in front of Lady Alice. The islands were named by Captain James Cook in 1769. The Māori name for the islands is Matariki (the Pleiades). Hen Island passed from Māori hands in 1872, bought by Thomas Outhwaite. It was bequeathed to the nation by his daughter Isa Outhwaite in 1927. The other islands, originally owned by the Māori Ngā Puhi iwi, were sold to the New Zealand Government in 1883. The islands were made a scenic reserve in 1908 owing to the rarity of the flora and fauna. Hen Island is 7km separate from the rest of the chain. It is considerably larger than the Chicken Islands/ Marotiri, which comprise a chain of 5 small islands; Wareware and Muriwhenua Islands (together forming North West Chicken), Mauitaha (West Chicken), Lady Alice Island (Big Chicken or Motu Muka), Whatupuke (Middle Chicken), and Coppermine Island (Eastern Chicken).
Taranga / Hen Island is 6km x 1km and located off the Whangarei coastline, 14 km northeast of Bream Tail and 15km southeast of Bream Head. Taranga Island is the remnant of a 4 million year volcano 427 m high (The Pinnacles) and separated from the mainland 10–12,000 years ago and is the second largest forested offshore island on the Continental Shelf in Northern New Zealand. 3 km south of Hen is Sail Rock, a prominent landmark. The island has historical features of the Ngatiwai people. While there are few signs of fortifications, stone terracing, platforms and agricultural evidence in the form of stone rows, mounds, and walls are present. The island holds spiritual significance to the Tangata Whenua of Ngatiwai. Taranga Island is bush clad with vegetation comprising of coastal broadleaf forest, dominated by pohutukawa, kohekohe, puriri, karaka, taraire, tawa, tawapo and puka. There is kanuka and rewarewa in areas modified by Maori occupation. There are 4 Threatened, 12 At Risk and 25 Significant plants. Birds include the little spotted kiwi, red crowned parakeet/kākāriki, kākā, pycroft petrel, bellbird/korimako, New Zealand pigeon/kūkupa, and saddleback/tīeke. Taranga was the only place tīeke existed when Europeans arrived. Little spotted kiwi were introduced in the 1990s. On the island are tuatara lizards, Shore, copper, egg laying, ornate and northern brown skinks, as well as Pacific and Duvaucel's geckos. 64 native land snail species, two carnivorous, and one endemic (Amborhytida tarangaensis) inhabit Taranga Island.


Lady Alice Island, after Lady Alice Fergusson (wife of Governor General Sir Charles Fergusson), it is the largest of the five Chickens and significant due to its flora and fauna. The 1.4 km2 island is surrounded by rocky reefs. It was occupied by Māori until the 1820s. Muriwhenua and Wareware are 2 small rocky islands. Whatupuke island (formerly Whakahau) has a large eastern section and a peninsula to the southwest. The coast of the peninsula forms the chain's main land feature, the 300-m Starfish Bay. The island is steep, rising to 234 metres. Coppermine Island is composed of two sections joined by a short isthmus. As the name suggests, there are copper deposits, but attempts at mining them in 1849 and 1898 were unprofitable. Mauitaha is a rugged, scrub-covered rock of 125 m where The Department of Conservation and Ngati Wai iwi have set up a sanctuary for the Polynesian rat, or kiore. All the islands have significant numbers of skinks (which are easy to differentiate from lizards as they are streamlined). The Cyclodina group is notable for containing the smallest indigenous skink, the copper skink (120 mm) and the largest, the 'presumed extinct' Northland skink (350 mm). Not threatened- Copper skink. At risk- Poor Knights skink (below), Robust skink, McGregor's skink, Poor Knights marbled skink, Southern marbled skink, Mokohinau skink. Chronically threatened- Ornate skink, Whitaker's skink. Extinct- Northland skink.

From the beach we could see over to Whangarei Heads on the left and Bream Head on the right. Leaving the beach we drove on towards Whangarei, an interesting area of reasonable hills covered with volcanic rocks. Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and capital of Northland Region whose dramatic skyline is dominated by the geological structures of Bream Head and offshore islands. Much of the interior of Whangarei comprises gently rolling to moderately steep hills, studded with scoria (volcanic) cones found at Maungatapere and Maunu. To the south and west, the dominant feature is uplifted blocks characterised by steep hills and jagged ranges. Nowhere is more than 800 m above sea level. The central area is dotted with the conical reminders of long extinct volcanoes. The volcanic peaks at Whangarei Heads are 20 million years and those at Hikurangi and Maungatapere 10,000 years ago. Manaia and Bream Head rocks date back 135 million years when New Zealand was part of the great landmass Gondwanaland.

At Whakapara we turned right for a detour along smaller roads over steep hills to Helena Bay Hill where we stopped for lunch at The Gallery & Cafe Helena Bay Hill http://www.galleryhelenabay.co.nz which had a beautiful view down to Helena Bay while we sat outside in the shade. After lunch we went for a short walk in their beautiful sub-tropical gardens before we had to retrace our steps.

We passed through Kawakawa, a small town originally developed as a service town when coal was found in the area in 1861. The town is known as "Train town", because the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway runs down the middle of its main street on the way to Opua. The town is also famous for its Hundertwasser toilet block, designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. We drove through lightly wooded gentle hills to arrive at the coast, giving spectacular views as we descended from the hills towards the Bay of Islands and arrived in Paihia in the mid afternoon. Our motel, Averill Court (62 Seaview) was only 1 minute from the beach which was lovely. We parked outside our motel room and unloaded. http://www.averillcourtmotel.co.nz

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
We realised we had time to visit the famous Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which included native forest, the Flagstaff, Treaty Grounds, Meeting House, Governor's House and ceremonial canoe. Did you know…
● NZ is unique in having 2 official flags; the one we all know and another one agreed earlier and never revoked (some Maori tribes still prefer this one)- both (with the Union Jack) fly from the pole in the Treaty Grounds. The earlier flag (designed by James Busby, agreed by the Maori chiefs and ratified by William IV) is known as the United Tribes Flag and is still significant to North Island Maori. It allowed ships to sail under a recognised flag and so be safe from seizure.
● the UK Government has set a date of 2020 for ALL Maori settlements to be made (some tribes still have not and our guide, whose tribe hadn’t, was keen that they do as he felt it would bring benefits for education, social issues etc)
It was a short 5 minutes drive across the bridge to the grounds where we parked and bought our tickets. The walk was initially through the woods (with informative signs on trees and native birds) with pleasant birdsong, and into the museum and shop.
1. Kahikatea is the dominant swamp forest species and the tallest native tree growing to heights of 60 m, with trunks 2m across. It lives up to 500 years. In fertile, seasonally flooded areas, kahikatea trees grow densely on matted roots and silt, with swamp maire, pukatea, cabbage trees, pokaka, and rimu. Every so often, powerful floods flatten the drying forest, creating a well-lit, damp nursery for young kahikatea, and re-setting the course to swamp forest.
Today there is only 2% of kahikatea forest remaining. Also called white pine, Dacrycarpus dacryidioides, kahikatea are found only in New Zealand. Kahikatea exists as both male and female trees. It dates back to the Jurassic Period. Kahikatea is the only native conifer that doesn’t produce resin, so was often used to store dairy products.
2. Miro is one of the “plum pines” (the other is Matai) and grows up to 20m. It produces vast numbers of red seeds that smell like turpentine. IMG_6400.JPG
They are especially loved by kereru (wood pigeon), who eat so much they can’t move (and the Maori would then collect them!). They also prized the oil from the seeds, using it in scents and as an antiseptic.
3. Mānuka (tea tree) is a flowering plant in the myrtle family, native to New Zealand. It is a shrub growing 2–5 m tall, but can grow up to 15m. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves. The flowers are white or pink, 8–15 mm, with five petals. This species is often confused with the closely related species kānuka. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is to feel their foliage; mānuka leaves are prickly, while kānuka leaves are soft
Although mānuka/kāhikatoa and kānuka have a superficial similarity and are collectively known as ‘tea trees’ they are genetically distinct from each other. Mānuka/kāhikatoa plants are sometimes covered with sooty mould, a black fungus that feeds on the honeydew produced by scale insects.
4. Kānuka (Kunzea ericoides), although superficially similar to mānuka, is a different plant. Typically it grows into a tree 30 m tall. The trunk and branches have long, leathery strips of bark, rather than the short, papery, flaky brown bark of mānuka. Kānuka leaves lack the sharp tip of mānuka. The capsules of kānuka split open to release their seeds. Research has confirmed that kānuka is endemic to New Zealand. Mānuka is common across North, South and Stewart Islands in lowland to low alpine regions up to 1800 m in many different habitats including wetlands, river gravels and dry hillsides. When mature, it is tolerant of drought, flood, strong winds and frost and it can grow at less fertile, colder, wetter and more acidic sites than kānuka. With the exception of Taranaki, kānuka is common in lowlands, mountain scrub and forest margins as far south as Dunedin. The species has a wide range of tolerance and even grows around active geothermal systems. It can be found from sea level to 1800 metres. Early settlers battled to clear land and regarded mānuka and kānuka as invasive shrubs. Today they act as an important tool for eroded slopes by creating shelter from the wind for slower growing native plants. As these other plants overtop them, the mānuka and kānuka die away in the shade. Unlike other native plants, mānuka and kānuka are not eaten by sheep, cattle or goats. The hard, red wood of mānuka was used by Māori for everything; paddles, weapons, blades, spears and house building. The bark was used for making water containers and the inner bark as a waterproof layer for roofing. Captain Cook and early settlers called them ‘tea tree’ because they used the green leaves to make a substitute for tea. They also brewed twigs from this plant with rimu to make beer. Mānuka flowers smell very sweet and provide an important source of pollen and nectar for native bees, flies, moths, beetles and geckos. Chemical tests have shown that mānuka pollen, and honey derived from it, contains powerful insecticides and anti-bacterial agents that can help fight bacterial infections. Mānuka is now sold in various cosmetics and healthcare products.
We had a guided tour, so we continued through to a second wooded walkway to arrive on the Treaty Grounds lawn. In front was the Flagpole with a beautiful bay and islands framing it. To our left was the Governors House and a little further the Maori meeting house. We just caught the end of the performance by Te Pitowhenua, giving an introduction to New Zealand’s indigenous culture in Te Whare Rūnanga. After they came out we were able to take off our shoes and go in to admire the carving inside.

A note on Maori meeting houses (Whare Marae)
The tekoteko at the top of the whare represents the ancestor, for whom the whare is named.
The koruru under the tekoteko represents a direct descendant of the ancestor
The maihi coming from the sides of the tekoteko and the raparapa at the end of the maihi, represent the arms and fingers of the ancestor.
The amo coming down from the sides of the maihi represent the sides of the ancestor.
The tahuhu running the full length of the whare represents the spine of the ancestor.
The heke running off the tahuhu on both sides represent the ribs.
In fully carved whare, the walls are adorned with poupou or carvings, which represent the history, in relation to the ancestor whose whare it is, as well as tukutuku, or woven panels with the stories of life. The positioning of each is important as poupou opposite each other are connected through the heke, the tukutuku on each side of a poupou are also related. The full name for the sacred courtyard in front of the meeting house is Te Maraenui-Atea-o-Tumatauenga (marae of Tumatauenga, Guardian of War). Going to the marae means entering an encounter situation, where challenges are met and issues debated. All newcomers to the marae must be greeted formally by the tangata whenua (hosts), whether a welcome or verbal battle.
We then met our guide who took us to the Georgian home of James Busby, where the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and Maori. The house has been recreated inside to the date of the treaty, with a study, bedroom and meeting room.

A guide to the Waitangi Treaty
The Treaty of Waitangi drafted and signed
As British settlement increased, the British Government decided to negotiate a formal agreement with Maori chiefs to become a British Colony. A treaty was drawn up in English then translated into Maori.
The push for a Treaty on one side (British) was the appearance of a French force come to “help” establish a French colony in NZ and on the other (Maori) was the desire to curb lawless activities by European merchants (mainly whalers etc). In 1839 a naval captain, William Hobson, was appointed consul to an independent New Zealand, and lieutenant governor to any parts of the country where Māori consented to become British. He was directed to negotiate for the sovereignty of New Zealand, and establish a British colony. Hobson arrived at the Bay of Islands on 29 January 1840. With the help of his secretary, James Freeman, he drew up notes for a treaty. James Busby, the British Resident (an official position), tidied them up and added to them. Over an evening, the notes were translated into Māori by the missionary Henry Williams and his son Edward, though they found suitable Māori words tricky to find. Hobson presented this Māori-language treaty to a meeting of around 500 Māori invited to Waitangi on 5 February. They held a lively debate on the possible effects of the treaty on their chiefly authority, land and trade, but no agreement was reached when the day-long meeting closed. The next day, 6 February, more than 40 chiefs signed the treaty. Copies were taken around the country over the following eight months, and many more chiefs signed, mainly the Māori-language version. Reasons why chiefs signed included wanting to control the sales of Māori land to Europeans, and controls on European settlers. They also wanted to trade with Europeans, and believed the new relationship with Britain would stop fighting between tribes. Those who didn’t sign the treaty were concerned they would lose their independence and power, and wanted to settle their own disputes. Some chiefs never had the opportunity to sign it, as it was not taken to all regions. Not all Maori signed (or have signed yet) the treaty..
The Treaty had three articles:
Article 1- the Queen (or king) of Great Britain has the right to rule over New Zealand. In Māori it gave Queen Victoria governance (te Kawanatanga katoa) over the land (thus the Maori saw it as giving her permission to use the land), while in English it gave her sovereignty over the land.
Article 2- Maori chiefs would keep their land and their chieftainships, and agree to sell their land only to the British monarch. The Māori version guaranteed chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ or chieftainship over their lands, villages and treasured things (taonga katoa) and gave the Crown a right to deal with Māori in buying land. The English version gave chiefs ‘exclusive and undisturbed possession’ of lands, forests, fisheries and other properties, but the Crown had the exclusive right to deal with Māori over buying land.
Article 3- both versions gave Māori the queen’s protection and the rights (tikanga) of British subjects.

Even though not all chiefs signed the treaty (either through a definite choice or because no treaty meetings happened in their area or even because they felt it irrelevant), the British government decided it placed all Māori under British authority. It did not take long for conflicts to arise between Māori and European settlers. The government ignored the protections the treaty was supposed to give Māori. Colonial officials interpreted the Treaty on the basis of its English, rather than Māori version. Within four years, officials admitted the traditional rights of chiefs would have to be limited because they conflicted with Crown authority. Violence between settlers and Māori at Wairau in 1843 and war in Northland in 1845 were precursors of more serious battles (New Zealand Land Wars). The Protector of aborigines, appointed by the government to defend Māori interests, was compromised by acting as a land-purchase negotiator, and the position was abolished in 1846. In 1847 concerns that the Crown might seize uncultivated Māori land prompted an appeal from Waikato chief Te Wherowhero to Queen Victoria. Her assurance that treaty guarantees would be honoured was delivered by Governor George Grey. The government succumbed to pressure from the New Zealand Company and validated its dubious purchases of Māori land to found Wellington. Over the 1840-50s European settlement expanded and tensions over land worsened. Many tribes responded by strengthening their traditional tribal rūnanga (councils). In Waikato, tribes of the Tainui federation formed an alliance and 1858 the Tainui chief Te Wherowhero was appointed head of this alliance and renamed Pōtatau, the first Māori King. The aim of the King movement (Kīngitanga) was to retain land by withholding it from sale, believing that the Māori king and British queen could co-exist peacefully. Further wars between the government and Māori led to Māori land being confiscated from several North Island tribes. By the end of the 19th century most land was no longer in Māori ownership, and Māori had little political power. Pākehā settlement and government had expanded enormously. Māori doubted the government would keep its obligations under the treaty. In 1860 fighting broke out between Māori and British troops in Taranaki over a disputed land transaction. Governor Browne hoped to convince Māori leaders to support his actions in Taranaki and reject the Māori King movement. He called a conference of chiefs at Kohimarama, Auckland, in 1860. Over three weeks the Treaty of Waitangi was presented and explained to 200 chiefs, including many who had signed it. The chiefs discovered they had differing understandings of the treaty. Finally they passed a unanimous resolution, the Kohimarama Covenant, which recognised the Crown’s sovereignty and confirmed chiefly rangatiratanga. The government promised to hold further conferences to discuss sharing power, but then didn't. Instead Governor Grey invaded Waikato. This escalated into warfare that spread to the Bay of Plenty and elsewhere. The confiscation of Māori land in Waikato, Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay left a legacy of bitterness. By 1870 almost the entire South Island had been taken from the Māori. The Native Land Court (later the Māori Land Court) converted tribally owned Māori land rights into Crown-granted titles, making the land easier to sell. By the early 1890s two thirds of North Island had been taken too. Between 1882-1924 four groups of Māori travelled to England to petition the British monarch/ government to ask for treaty rights to be observed. In the 1880s the King movement set up their own parliament, the Kauhanganui, and in 1892 a Kotahitanga (Māori unity) parliament was set up. In the 20th century Māori land continued to be sold, and sometimes taken by the government for public works. In the early 20th century leaders such as Āpirana Ngata introduced schemes to develop Māori land and the government began to support Māori farming ventures. In 1932 the governor-general, Lord Bledisloe, and his wife gifted to the nation the house and land where the treaty had been signed in Waitangi. In 1940 the country celebrated 100 years since the treaty was signed. The occasion was intended as a demonstration of national pride and unity, but Māori were less enthusiastic. In the 1970s protests about Māori treaty rights became more common. The Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 established the Waitangi Tribunal to consider claims and make recommendations. The principles of the treaty, partnership between the government and Māori, began to be mentioned in New Zealand law, and knowledge about the treaty became widespread. However, resolution of grievances under the treaty remained an ongoing process although the British government have given a cut off date of 2020.

After walking around the Governors House we headed down to the lower lawn/ beach edge where Ngatokimatawhaorua, a 37 metre kauri waka taua (war canoe), carved to mark the centenary of the treaty, sits. A massive kauri tree trunk next to it showed how it was carved from a single tree. We were lucky that we would be in NZ for Waitangi Day, which they celebrate with great gusto. In Paihia lots of canoes, including this one (special invitation needed to row) would set off around the bay.
We headed back through the woods to arrive at the Artefacts gallery again with its copy of the Waitangi Treaty (a special building was nearly complete nearby and our guide said it was hoped to acquire the original from Te Papa Museum to display here). As an interesting point, by far and away most Māori lived in North Island at the time the Europeans arrived- South Island had barely been colonised.

After our history lesson we went for a walk along the beach by our hotel. It looked very rough, so I only paddled, though Steve braved a short swim.
After we had dried off we walked into town, looked at the shops (not many of them!), past the only stone building in Paihia, St Peters Church, then went for dinner at the Only Seafood Restaurant http://onlyseafood.co.nz where we ate...only seafood with a lovely white wine from Cloudy Bay. As we were in the front garden looking out over the bay we watched a glorious sunset with a full moon shining over the bay and Russell opposite. The now peaceful village of Russell is full of history as the 'hell hole of the Pacific'.

Posted by PetersF 14:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged islands island north bay maori paihia russell waitangi Comments (0)

New Zealand North: Haruru and Hole in the Rock

Tuesday 26th January Horse riding and Bay cruising

Our motel room opened straight to the car and our breakfast (as ordered) was ready for us on the table outside. As it was sunny we decided to go to the Horse trek (Horse Trek’n Forest and Volcano, 157D Haruru Falls Rd, http://horsetrekn.co.nz) via the Haruru Falls, a horseshoe shaped waterfall. This involved a quick drive via the supermarket for supplies (muesli bars, porridge sachets and crisps) before a further 7 minutes to the Haruru Falls Road. It was easy to find the waterfall due to the noise. We parked in the dedicated area and walked to the falls where, as it was early, we were alone. The falls are quite tame in the summer, but much fiercer in the winter months. Then it was a drive on up the road to find the trek- at first we couldn’t find the turn off, but it was signposted the other direction. We were early so we waited in the sun until 10 am. They could not find our booking, but luckily were super chilled and said we could go and they’d sort it later. So, up on our horses (mine was Moana which is Maori for Lake), a short walk along the road and up into the wood/forest of Waitangi Forest. The tracks were quite rutted so we did not get much trotting or cantering done, but the view from the top of the extinct (hopefully) Te Puke volcano over the whole Bay of Islands was spectacular- all the way to Kerikeri. The bridle path led us into the Waitangi Treaty Grounds National Park, and up to the top of an extinct volcano whose old rim and crater were still clearly visible, if bush covered. We were lucky it was not busy and for most of our ride we didn’t see another soul, making it quiet and peaceful. It was a kiwi zone, but obviously it was daytime, so did not see or hear any. Having enjoyed the beautiful view of Wairoa Bay we trotted back to the stables, arriving at midday.

When we got back we drove back to the motel to change for our cruise and had time for a quick bite before walking back into town at 1:15 to find the wharf for our boat (easily recognisable as they are yellow and black). This turned out to be simple as it had it’s own dedicated pontoon. Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock Cruise is run by the ubiquitous Explore Group http://www.exploregroup.co.nz/en/amazing-places/bay-of-islands/.
We couldn’t decide whether to be inside or outside, so we compromised and went to both! The boat took off through the Te Ti Bay, past Motumaire and Taylor Islands (small nature reserves) and into the town of Russell on the opposite bank of the peninsula (Kororareka Bay). Russell/ Kororāreka, was the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. When European ships began visiting New Zealand in the early 1800s, the Māori recognised the advantages in trading with these tauiwi. Kororāreka soon earned a bad reputation, a community without laws as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific" despite its name "How sweet is the penguin". Fighting on the beach in 1830, between northern and southern hapū within the Ngāpuhi iwi, known as the Girls’ War. 1840 Governor Hobson read his Proclamations (forerunners of the Treaty of Waitangi) in the presence of settlers and Maori chief, Moka Te Kainga-mataa. At the beginning of the Flagstaff War 1845 (touched off by the repeated felling/ erection of the symbol of British Sovereignty on Flagstaff Hill above the town), the town of Kororāreka/Russell was sacked by Hōne Heke. Russell is now a bastion of cafés and gift shops. Pompallier Mission, the historic printers/tannery/storehouse of early missionaries, is the oldest industrial building in New Zealand, while Christ Church is the country's oldest church.
IMG_6437.JPGIMG_6430.JPGIMG_6445.JPGIMG_6446.JPGThen it was out from the more protected bay and into the main bay, past the tip (Tapeka Point) of the Russell peninsula (Fraser Rock). We passed some larger islands, Moturoa and the Black Rocks (further away on our left), then Roberton/ Motuarohia, Moturua and Waewaetorea on the right. Passing between Okahu/ Motukiekie and Urupukapuka we moved further out. From these more protected islands we were out into a rougher bay, passing some America’s Cup hopefuls. The rough coastline with its numerous bays, coves and barely underwater rocks passed us on the right, a thin spit of land, mainly empty. Some small islets, close to land, flashed by- Motuwheteke and Putahataha being the largest (and at least named).
Then past isolated Motutara Rock, before coming to the end of land. There was a lighthouse, the Cape Brett Lighthouse (now unmanned) and an island, Otuwhanga, recently (in geological terms) detached from the land. A further few minutes brought us to the iconic Hole in the Rock and Tiheru Isle (Cape Brett). Although it was far too rough to go through the Hole, it was much more interesting watching the sea go through. At one point it managed to completely fill the hole. Next to the Hole we saw the Grand Cathedral Cave that will also become a Hole (actually an arch) one day too.
Then it was back past the lighthouse at the top of Mt.Rakaumangamanga. Despite its very remote location several families in the past had lived and raised children here, but it was given an automated beam in 1978 and now no one lives there. Cape Brett is regarded as a spiritual portal by the northern Maori, a corner of the Polynesian Triangle (with Hawaiki and Easter Island).
IMG_6454.JPGIMG_6457.JPGIMG_6459.JPGIMG_6466.JPGIMG_6473.JPGWe continued back until we reached Urupukapuka Island where we docked at Otehei Bay for a snack and a chance to walk around. We had a cheese snack, then headed up to highest point of the Island to see a breathtaking view of the bay. The island has been made pest free by the government and you cannot spend the night there, so our boat returned 90 minutes later to return us to Paihia in time for a stroll before dinner.
32281948346_86666116df_o.jpgTiheru Island
Motu Kōkako, also known as Piercy Island or "The Hole In The Rock”, is at the very northern tip of Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett). It is Māori freehold land, administered by the Motu Kōkako Ahu Whenua Trust for the benefit of the descendants of the traditional owners. The island is of great cultural significance to the Ngāpuhi iwi, and historically associated with a range of sacred customary activities. Motu Kōkako was said to be the landing place of the canoe Tūnui-a-rangi before it went to Ngunguru and Whāngārei. It brings to mind the whakataukī 'Te toka tū moana' (the rock standing in the sea). It is probably the most important island in the Bay of Islands in conservation terms, being in near pristine condition, with no evidence of introduced animals. The island was named Piercy Island by Captain Cook in honour of a Lord of the Admiralty. The 60-foot (18 m) hole at sea level was created over centuries by wind and waves making it one of the most naturally beautiful sites in New Zealand. The use of the island by tourist boat operators has been the subject of a long running dispute, with tourism companies taking boats through the Hole in the Rock but not paying a share of the takings to the island's owners. Apart from 1989 - 1992, the owners of the island have received no royalties from the boat operators. A Treaty of Waitangi claim (Wai 2022) has been lodged by the Motu Kōkako Ahu Whenua Trust and is being considered. The Trust and Salt Air have signed a joint tourism venture agreement, under which Salt Air pays a levy for each visitor to the island in recognition of the owners' mana whenua/mana moana rights.
31509777573_3f5e680e4f_o.jpg32282001776_7b0d4a3a0e_o.jpg Otuwhanga Island
Urupukapuka Island is the largest island in the Bay of Islands. Urupukapuka Island was settled by the Ngare Raumati tribe, one of the oldest tribes of the area. In 1839, William Brind, a whaling captain, claimed to have purchased 150 acres of Urupukapuka from Rewa, chief of the Ngapuhi, for one mare but this was invalidated when Rewa claimed the mare was a deposit and not the whole sum. In the later 1800s, two Europeans leased Urupukapuka for sheep grazing. The island is 208 hectares with sandy beaches and clear water with plentiful reef life. Indico and Paradise Bays are popular sheltered anchorages. The bays are inhabited by colonies of shags and pohutukawas. The New Zealand dotterel, oystercatcher, pied stilt and paradise duck breed on the island. The island’s topography is the most varied of the islands in Ipipiri and ranges from flat areas behind the major bays (Entico, Otehei, Urupukapuka) and rises to moderately steep slopes and coastal cliffs on the island’s eastern side. The main vegetation type is manuka/kanuka shrubland and extensive kikuyu grasslands are features of northern and southern areas of Urupukapuka. A spectacular pohutukawa forest occupies the coastal fringe and pohutukawa are a highlight of the island's vegetation. There is a significant wetland habitat created in the 1980s as a wildlife habitat with baumea sp. and raupo reed land. Urupukapuka has significant restoration potential with its range of habitats and current natural regeneration and it is a breeding area for brown teal/pāteke and NZ dotterel.
Variable oystercatchers (torea) occur around most of the coastline of New Zealand, and breed most commonly on sandy beaches, sandspits and in dunes. They are very vocal; loud piping is used in territorial interactions and when alarmed. Chicks are warned of danger with a sharp, loud ‘chip’ or ‘click’. Adults have black upperparts, their underparts vary from all black, through ‘smudgy’ intermediate states to white. The proportion of all black birds increases as you head south. Pied morph birds can be confused with the South Island pied oystercatcher. They have a conspicuous long bright orange bill (longer in females), and stout coral-pink legs. The iris is red and the eye-ring orange. Variable oystercatchers eat a wide range of coastal invertebrates, including molluscs and crustaceans, which they open either by pushing the tip of the bill between shells and twisting, or by hammering. They occasionally eat small fish and a range of terrestrial invertebrates, including earthworms. They breed in monogamous pairs and defend territories vigorously against neighbours. Nests are normally simple scrapes in the sand and the 2–3 eggs are laid from October onwards. Incubation is shared and takes about 28 days.
Our evening finished with a nice meal in a close restaurant, the Alfrescos. We were lucky to get an outside table, as it was really busy. http://www.alfrescosrestaurantpaihia.com

Posted by PetersF 15:10 Archived in New Zealand Tagged island north paihia haruru holeintherock urupukapuka Comments (0)

New Zealand - Omapere, Kauri, Tawharanui to Auckland

Paihia, Opononi, Omapere Arai te Uru Reserve, beaches, Tasman Sea, Kauri trees (Waipoua), Waikaki inlet, Te Kopuru hill, Snells Warkworth, Tawharanui beach

Wednesday 27th January Arai-te-Uru, Waipoua Forest and Tawharanui Beach

We had a good sleep before receiving our breakfast, then checked out to drive west across Northlands, from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea. We headed out of Paihia towards the low central hills. Past yet more of the beautiful white and purple flowers (Agapanthus) until we joined SH10, which we promptly turned away from and up into the larger hills, all studded with volcanic rocks and people-free. The cut through put us back on SH1 to Ohaeawai, a small town from, apparently, the 1960s. We turned off here for a brief detour to see the large Lake Omapere along the main road, but it was not a great view. Luckily, the cut through to get back to the SH12 further on took us along the shoreline so we could see it properly. We joined the SH12 back at Kaikohe, in the centre of the old (extinct) volcano country. The pretty Aperahama church passed on our left, named after Aperahama Te Awa who is buried there (1885) and about whom nothing is known!
As the road moved east the area became less barren looking (Hokianga District), with more bushes and trees as we headed past Taheke towards the Tasman inlet (Hokianga Harbour) at Omanaia. The villages, widely spaced, looked poorer with a lot of run down mobile home type houses, or even shacks, with few facilities. We started to see lots more water- streams, estuaries etc as we headed to the bay. It remained surprisingly hilly, quite respectable heights, but became more prosperous looking as we approached the sea. This did mean we had a lovely view of the Tasman from on high! The road then followed the coast to Opononi (where we stopped on the wharf for a quick photo opp and leg stretch) and its twin settlement Omapere. Leaving Omapere we noticed a sign for a Scenic Lookout and drove up to Arai-Te-Uru Reserve and parked. There were few people here and it looked like a nice walk so we hopped out to walk along the headland. The nursery web spiders were everywhere in the gorse and far below we could see the few surfers brave enough to chance the wild Tasman rollers. The point was nice as we could contrast the Tasman Sea (left
below) with the water of Hokianga Harbour (centre and right below).

Arai Te Uru is the name given to the south head of the Hokianga Harbour. This headland offers spectacular views of the Tasman Sea and the giant sand dunes on the opposite side of the harbour entrance. In 1838 John Martin bought the headland and constructed a signalling mast on the point to guide ships over the treacherous Hokianga sandbar. His white painted house on a nearby hill acted as a navigation marker. According to Maori mythology, Arai Te Uru and Niua (the north head of the harbour) were two taniwha (sea monsters) who had the job of guarding the harbour entrance. They would use their powerful tails to stir the waters into such frenzy that invading waka would be swamped and rendered helpless in the sea. From the wharf at Opononi, you can catch a water taxi to the huge sand dunes of the north head and surf down the dunes on body boards.
Most New Zealand spiders are araneomorphs. Their fangs move sideways rather than up and down like the mygalomorphs. Therefore, araneomorphs do not need to have their prey on a solid surface to strike, and can exploit a wide range of habitats. Araneomorphs can both directly catch flying insects, and use webs. Nursery Web spiders are large fast-moving spiders of 6 cm, pale brown with yellow borders around the cephalothorax (the front portion of the spider that bears the legs, fangs and eyes). D. minor has a yellow stripe running lengthwise from the front to the middle of the abdomen. The stripe is absent in D. aquaticus (Water spider). Both species are found throughout New Zealand. Nursery web spiders are known for their webs, yet they do not use them to catch prey. The webs of these spiders are a common sight on gorse and other shrubs and are nurseries for young spiderlings. During summer, the female nursery web spider can be seen roaming about carrying a large white ball underneath her. This is her egg sac and she carries it everywhere in her fangs until her young are ready to emerge. When this time comes, she takes the egg sac to the top of a tree or shrub and constructs the nurseryweb. The mother stays close, and during the day can be found near the base of the plant where she has deposited her young. Secure inside the nurseryweb, the young spiderlings emerge from the eggsac and remain here for about a week or so before dispersing by ballooning. New Zealand’s sole poisonous native spider, the rare katipō, has almost mythical status. Since the late 19th century there have been accidental introductions of the poisonous redback and white-tailed spiders from Australia. Māori knew of a poisonous spider that lived on/ near the warmer North Island beaches. They called it the katipō, which means ‘night-stinger’. The scientific name is Latrodectus katipo. Only the adult female katipō bites. A fully- grown female is about the size of a garden pea. It is black, with a bright red stripe on its back. Katipō are shy, and only bite if threatened. Few New Zealanders have even seen one. Despite their reputation, there is no evidence that anyone has died from a katipō bite. Katipō spiders are classified as threatened. It is illegal to collect or deliberately kill them. Their decline is due to changes in the beach habitat, especially the replacement of native pīngao with marram grass. Experts agree that there are now fewer katipō than the kiwi.

Common skinks live in coastal locations where they are often a dark or black colour. In other places they are brown with irregular stripes. They can be distinguished from the similar brown skink by their straw coloured iris (brown skinks have a brown iris). Common skinks are not threatened. Females are slightly larger than males. The most common food of common skinks is invertebrates, namely beetles, spiders, and the caterpillars of moths and butterflies. They also eat a small amount of seeds and fruit. All lizards are cold blooded animals. Many bask in the sun to get warm, and if they aren’t warm enough have difficulty moving. The body temperature that a lizard can achieve has a profound effect on important life-traits: low temperatures can lengthen pregnancy, and even result in the unborn baby’s (neonate’s) death. Common skinks are avid baskers. They seek sun and prefer sunny habitats. They minimise the risk of predation by exposing only small parts of their body at one time, still remaining well hidden. Common skinks love sunny rock piles and tumbles that have plenty of crevices. Not only are they great for basking in safe spots, but rock retains heat to keep them warm during cold spells. Common skinks prefer grasslands (especially tall grass) and scrub rather than forests. They love dry, open areas with lots of places to bask and lots of cover to hide under.
Everywhere we saw the Harakeke (flax) plants, prized by both Maori and pakeha for their use in rope manufacture. There are two species of flax in New Zealand - common flax (harakeke) and mountain flax (wharariki). Their tall, green, sword-like leaves can be found growing throughout New Zealand. Common flax is found throughout the country, especially in wet areas, while mountain flax is at altitude and exposed coastlines. Flax is unique to New Zealand and is one of its more ancient plants. The bushes support a large community of animals, providing shelter and abundant food. Tui, bellbirds/ korimako, saddlebacks/tīeke, short tailed bats/pekapeka, geckos and insects enjoy flax flower nectar. Flax snails, a rare land snail living only in the Far North, shelter under flax bushes. The snails don’t eat the flax, but munch on fallen leaves from native broadleaved trees. The first Europeans called it ‘flax’ because its fibres were similar to true flax, but it is in fact a lily. Common flax grows up to 3m high and its flower stalks can reach 4m. Its seedpods stand upright from the stem. Mountain flax only grows 1.5m and its seedpods hang down. Within the two species, there are numerous varieties. Some have drooping, floppy leaves while others grow as stiff and upright as spears. Flax flowers vary from yellow to red to orange. Flax was a valuable resource as rope to Europeans during the 19th century, when it was New Zealand’s biggest export until wool and mutton took over. Today, flax is used in soap, hand cream, shampoo, cosmetics and even flaxseed oil. There have even been experiments to make flax into wine! Flax was the most important plant to Māori. Each pā or marae typically had a pā harakeke (flax plantation). Different varieties were grown for their strength, softness, colour and fibre content. The uses of the flax fibre were numerous; clothes, mats, plates, baskets, ropes, bird snares, fishing lines and nets from the leaves; floats or rafts from bundles of dried flower stalks and the nectar to sweeten food. Flax also had medicinal uses. The sticky sap or gum was applied to boils and wounds and used for toothache. Flax leaves were used to bind broken bones and matted leaves as dressings. Flax root juice was applied to wounds as a disinfectant. Traditionally when harakeke leaves were removed from the plant, only the older leaves on the outside were taken. It was believed the three inner layers of the plant represented a family. The outer layer was the grandparents, whereas the inner layer of new shoots (child) remained and was protected by the next inner layer of leaves, the parents.

Pohutukawa and Rata
Although the fortunes of pohutukawa and rata have improved, they are still threatened by pests. The blazing red flowers of pohutukawa at Christmas have earned this tree the title of New Zealand's Christmas tree. Pohutukawa and rata belong to the genus Metrosideros (myrtle). In New Zealand, this is represented by 2 pohutukawa, 6 species of rata vine, a related shrub, and 3 tree rata. Mainland pohutukawa occurs in the upper half of North Island. It is easily distinguished from rata by the hairs on the underside of the leaves. Pohutukawa and rata hold a prominent place in Maori mythology. Legends tell of the young Maori warrior, Tawhaki and his attempt to find help in heaven to avenge his father's death. He subsequently fell to earth and the crimson flowers are said to represent his blood. Possibly the most famous pohutukawa in Maori legend is a small, wind- beaten tree clinging to the cliff face near Cape Reinga. The 800-year-old tree is reputed to guard the entrance to a sacred cave through which spirits pass on their way to the next world. Rata was respected for its immense size, which provided, among other things, shelter for travellers.
On several flax plants we saw weta lying up the stem, virtually immobile. Weta are incredible creatures. Giant wētā / wētāpunga have been around since before the dinosaurs. They range in size, but with their big bodies, spiny legs, and curved tusks, they are one of New Zealand's most recognisable creepy crawlies. Wētā have become icons for invertebrate conservation in New Zealand because many species are endangered. There are more than 70 species of wētā in New Zealand, 16 of which are at risk. There are five groups of wētā:
● Tree wētā
● Ground wētā
● Cave wētā
● Giant wētā
● Tusked wētā
Wētā are mainly herbivorous, but are known to eat insects. They are mainly nocturnal and live in grassland, shrub, forests, and caves. They excavate holes under stones, rotting logs, or in trees, or occupy pre-formed burrows. Many of the giant species only survive on protected land. The Mahoenui giant wētā, considered extinct, was rediscovered in a patch of King Country gorse in 1962. A problem with wētā conservation is the lack of information on their distribution and ecology. There can be a great deal of variation within species, despite the fact there is little genetic difference between them.
However their potential for recovery is good because they have a high rate of procreation, adapt well to modified habitats, require smaller areas and can survive in tiny fragments of habitat and thrive in captive breeding programmes.

Flitting in and out of the flax we saw a Bellbird. This bird is famous for its melodious song, which Captain Cook described as ‘like small bells’. Well camouflaged, the bellbird is heard before it is seen. Females are dull olive-brown, with a blue sheen on the head and pale yellow cheek stripe. Males are olive green, with a purplish head and black outer wing and tail feathers. Bellbirds are unique to New Zealand. When Europeans arrived, bellbirds were common throughout North and South Islands. Their numbers declined during the 1860s, as ship rats and stoats arrived. For a time it was thought they might vanish from the mainland altogether, but they began to recover from 1940 onward. Bellbirds live in native forest (mixed podocarp-hardwood and beech forest) and regenerating forest with dense vegetation. They can be found close to the coast or in vegetation up to about 1200 metres. Typically they prefer forest/ scrub, cover and good local food sources during the breeding season, since they do not travel far from the nest.
However, outside the breeding season they may travel many kilometres to feed, especially males. Bellbird song comprises three distinct sounds resembling the chiming of bells. They sing through the day, especially the early morning and late evening. The alarm call is a series of loud, rapidly repeated, harsh staccato notes. Just as people have regional accents, bellbirds sing with regional dialects. Bellbird songs vary enormously from one place to another, even over short distances.
Everywhere in North Island we saw Fantails, easily recognised by their long tail that opens to a fan. It has a small head and bill and has two colour forms, pied and melanistic (black). The pied birds are grey- brown with white and black bands. The fantail is widespread and common in most of the country, except the dry, open country of Central Otago, where frosts are too harsh. The fantail is one of the few native bird species that has adapted to an environment altered by humans. Fantails range from sea level to the snow line. There are 10 sub-species, three of which live in New Zealand: North Island fantail, South Island fantail and Chatham Islands fantail. Fantails use their broad tails to change direction quickly while hunting for insects. They sometimes hop around upside-down amongst tree ferns and foliage to pick insects from the underside of leaves. Their main prey is moths, flies, spiders, wasps, and beetles. They seldom feed on the ground. The success of the species is due to the fantail’s prolific and early breeding, females lay as many as 5 clutches in one season. In Māori mythology the fantail was responsible for death in the world. Maui, thinking he could end death by successfully passing through the goddess of death, Hine-nui-te-po, tried to enter her sleeping body through the pathway of birth. The fantail, warned by Maui to be quiet, began laughing and woke Hine-nuite-po, who was so angry that she killed Maui.
Fantails use three methods to catch insects. The first, hawking, is used where vegetation is open and they can see long distances. Fantails perch to spot swarms of insects and then fly at the prey, snapping several insects at a time. The second method in denser vegetation is flushing. The fantail flies around to disturb insects, flushing them out to eat them. Feeding associations are the third way. The fantail follows another bird or animal to capture insects disturbed by their movements.

Waipoua Forest. After our walk we continued our drive on SH12 down the Kauri coast to reach Waipoua Forest. The drive wound through magnificent stands of tall kauri, rimu and northern rata, and gave extensive views in a few places. The road down became very wooded with no settlements at all until we were officially in the forest. It was not long before we found a parking bay with a short trail to Tane Mahuta opposite, so we had a coffee (whilst Steve earwigged a government meeting between a Maori representative and officials regarding forest rights). The track to the tree was easy, just 5 mins walk, and when we found the tree a really helpful lady park ranger talked to us and took our photo. She told us about the other trails and suggested which ones were best as well as a little about the forest and kauri trees. Tane Mahuta is the largest known living kauri tree.
Kauri (Agathis) or dammar, is a relatively small genus of 21 species of evergreen tree. The genus is part of the ancient Araucariaceae family of conifers, a group widespread during the Jurassic, but now restricted to the Southern Hemisphere. Mature kauri trees have characteristically large trunks, forming a bole with little or no branching below the crown. In contrast, young trees are conical in shape, forming a more rounded or irregularly shaped crown as they achieve maturity. The bark is smooth and light grey-brown, peeling into irregular flakes that become thicker on more mature trees. The branch structure is often horizontal or, when larger, ascending. The lowest branches often leave circular branch scars when they detach from the lower trunk. The juvenile leaves in all species are larger than the adult. Adult leaves are very leathery and quite thick. Young leaves are coppery-red, contrasting with the green foliage of the previous season. The male pollen cones appear only on larger trees after seed cones have appeared. The female seed cones develop on short lateral branchlets, maturing after two years. Seeds of some species are attacked by the caterpillars of Agathiphaga, the most primitive of all living moths. Kauri dieback is a deadly disease caused by Phytophthora agathidicida. This fungus-like disease was formally identified in 2008 as a distinct and previously undescribed species of Phytophthora. Kauri dieback is specific to New Zealand kauri and can kill trees of all ages. Microscopic spores in the soil infect kauri roots and damage the tissues that carry nutrients within the tree. Infected trees show yellowing of foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning, dead branches, root rot and lesions that bleed gum at the base of the trunk. Nearly all infected kauri die. In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri in New Zealand. Scientists are currently working to find a treatment for this disease.
It was a brief drive (though poorly signposted) to the main car park, which led to most of the forest walks. The local government had had a lot of issues with thefts from cars, so employed a car watcher (voluntary donation $2). We washed our boots (to help prevent Kauri dieback disease, which is a major issue) and set off. The walk led up a fern filled area (Toatoa Walk) to the start of the forest, where the path split. We went to see the Four Sisters branch first, which terminated in the Four Sisters- 4 huge trees so close they almost looked like one.
Then we retraced our steps and headed on down the forest for a good 15+ minutes to the second tallest (though wider in girth) Te Matua Ngahere kauri tree. Then it was all uphill back to the original track. We decided we didn’t have time to do the full Yakas track, so we just looked down it for a few minutes to see the podocarps. Then back to the car park. The weird thing was at least 2 cars were “following” our path, but 20 mins behind us at each place!
I knew there was a visitor centre with a cafe, so we drove a bit further, over a stream and then I spotted the sign to the right. We turned down a long, dusty track which opened out after a few km to a lovely visitors centre. No one else had arrived so we had a super sandwich and muffin (these were glorious) in the shade outdoors. At the end the same people arrived, but we were heading off by then.
Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) is a podocarp, able to reach up to 50 metres in height. Most trees live 800-900 years. The rimu is well known for its strong, durable timber, which was used in furniture.
Bats are the only native NZ mammal. There are two types; the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat. The greater short-tailed bat is extinct. Maori folklore refers to bats as pekapeka and associates them with a mythical night- flying bird, the hokioi, which foretells death or disaster. The endangered lesser short-tailed bat is an ancient species unique to New Zealand and found only in a few locations. It is the only remaining member of its family, Mystacinidae. Short-tailed bats weigh 12-15 g, have large pointed ears and a tail. They are a mousy-grey colour. Unlike most bats, which catch their prey in the air, the short-tailed bat has adapted to ground hunting. It spends large amounts of time on the forest floor, using its folded wings as 'front limbs' for scrambling around for insects, fruit, nectar and pollen. Short-tailed bats are found in indigenous
forests where they roost in hollow trees. Thought to be a lek breeder, male bats compete for traditional posts and sing to attract a female. The short-tailed bats are an important pollinator of the Dactylanthus or woodrose, a threatened parasitic plant, which grows on the roots of trees on the forest floor.

The nīkau palm is the southernmost member of the palm family. There are over 1,100 palm species around the world. The nīkau palm is the only native palm to NZ. It grows 10-15 m tall and is easy to spot in the bush with a circular trunk ringed with evenly spaced scars from fallen leaves. The fronds are up to 3 m in length. The nīkau palm is unique to New Zealand and occurs in coastal to lowland forest in warm regions, mainly North Island and northern South Island (Marlborough Sounds to Banks Peninsula near Christchurch). The nīkau sprouts large clusters of mauve flowers that burst from the base of the lowest branch. The flowers are sticky and sweet with nectar, which attracts insects, especially bees. While insects are the main pollinators, birds such as tui, bellbirds and silvereyes also enjoy the nectar. The bright red nīkau fruits take one year to ripen and are an important food source for native birds, particularly the wood pigeon/kererū and kākā. Nīkau palms are important to Māori. The leaves were used to thatch houses, wrap food for cooking, and weave into hats, mats, baskets, and leggings for travelling through rough undergrowth. The growing spikes can be taken from the tree every 8 months without killing it. From the outer portion of the trunk, Māori made storage containers and pots. The hard berries were made into necklaces or eaten when green. The immature flower is edible and can be cooked and eaten like cauliflower. The heart of the developing leaves (rito) can be eaten raw, but taking the shoots kills the whole tree. The nīkau takes 40– 50 years to begin to form a trunk and 200 years to reach 10 m. Two fronds are shed per year leaving a leaf scar on the trunk, which can be used to give an indication of age since the trunk began. The nīkau is closely related to the betel nut, the seeds of which are a laxative. The centre shoots of nīkau can be used in the same way. When Māori came to New Zealand, they looked for a familiar tree and seeing the nīkau, compared it to the coconut tree. One translation of ‘nīkau’ is ‘without nuts'.
The forest was particularly covered with native ferns, of which New Zealand is home to nearly 200 species. These are some of the most common.
from left: button fern tarawera. Small ground fern, dark green fronds, sori on the margins; Cunningham’s maidenhair Smallish ground fern, oblong hairless blue-green frond segments; drooping filmy fern piripiri, irirangi, Hymenophyllum demissum. Small fern with dull, translucent fronds, creeping on the ground or on tree trunks. One of the most common filmy ferns in New Zealand; fork fern Tmesipteris elongata. Usually epiphytic on the trunks of tree ferns, with pendulous stems and spirally arranged leaves; hen & chickens fern manamana. Medium ground fern, with narrow, dull fronds, numerous bulbils, or ‘chickens’, borne on the fronds’ upperside; hound’s tongue kowaowao, paraharaha Smallish fern that creeps extensively, along the ground or up tree trunks, glossy lime-green fronds, and orange sori; kiokio Blechnum novae- zelandiae, large ground fern, with once-divided fronds, and markedly different sterile and fertile fronds;
prickly shield fern püniu, ground fern, dark green, narrow, tough, scaly fronds; silver fern ponga, Cyathea dealbata. Tree fern whose fronds have white undersides, scales rather than hairs; crape fern, medium with translucent fronds; sweet fern ground fern, pale green thin fronds, netted veins, and distinctively fractal; whekï rough tree fern, tirawa, Dicksonia squarrosa, dark-brown and hairy frond-stalks, and coarse- textured fronds. The orange dead fronds give a scruffy appearance.

The leaves of ferns are called fronds and when young are coiled into a tight spiral. This shape, called a ‘koru’ in Māori, is a popular motif in many New Zealand designs. Ferns are categorised based on their growth form such as tufted, creeping, climbing, perching and tree ferns. One notable New Zealand fern is bracken (rārahu), which grows in open, disturbed areas and was a staple of the early Māori diet in places too cold for the kümara to grow. The roots were gathered in spring or early summer and left to dry before they were cooked and eaten. The silver fern or ponga is a national symbol and named for the silver underside of its fronds. The mamaku is New Zealand’s tallest tree fern, growing up to 20 m high. Wheki is another type of tree fern that can be distinguished by its hairy koru and ‘skirt’ of dead, brown fronds hanging from under the crown. It often forms groves by means of spreading underground rhizomes, which give rise to several stems. Most ferns reproduce sexually, but some ferns also have efficient means of vegetative reproduction, such as the underground stems of bracken and the tiny bulblets that grow on the surface of fronds of the hen-and-chicken fern.

Waipoua Forest is home to a number of important native birds, which we heard and glimpsed. The kōkako belongs to the endemic New Zealand wattlebirds, an ancient family of birds that includes the North and South Island saddleback and the extinct huia. The kōkako is the only member of its family still surviving on the mainland. There are two sub-species; North Island kōkako (Callaeas wilsoni) and South Island kōkako (Callaeas cinerea). It is a dark bluish-grey bird with a long tail and short wings. There is a pair of brightly coloured, fleshy "wattles". The North Island kōkako has blue wattles, the South Island kōkako has orange or yellow wattles. The bird is not very good at flying, and prefers to use its powerful legs to leap and run through the forest. The North Island kōkako is found in tall native forest, with a canopy of tawa or taraire and emergent podocarps or kauri. The birds are restricted to areas where rats and possum are controlled. There are about 400 pairs in several isolated populations, mainly in central and northern North Island. Kōkako are known for the clarity and volume of their song, which carries far across the forest. In the early morning, a pair may duet for up to half an hour with other kōkako joining in to form a bush choir. Male and female are similar in colour and size (230 grams). They protect large territories by singing and chasing away invaders. They eat leaves, fern-fronds, flowers, fruit and invertebrates. In Māori myth, it was the kōkako that gave Maui water as he fought the sun. The kōkako filled its wattles with water and brought it to Maui. His thirst quenched, Maui rewarded the kōkako by making its legs long and slender, enabling the bird to bound through the forest with ease in search of food.

We decided to continue down the coast, then cut across the island towards Whangarei as we wanted to go towards the Pacific beaches in the Tawharanui reserve. We followed the west coast road (with only brief glimpses of the Tasman behind the trees) along the long beaches we had seen flying in, until we reached Dargaville when the road began to follow the Wairoa River (a long wide river that became an estuary, nearly splitting the land) along its length back to the Tasman. As we passed Tokatoka a strange hill presented itself- Tokatoka Hill. This outlandish mountain, like some-thing from a fantasy landscape, is actually a rare phenomenon, the plug of an ancient volcano whose material around the plug has eroded, leaving only the hardened lava core. It is located on in flat farmland on Tokatoka Road, off State Highway 12, 17 km south of Dargaville. In pioneering days, the river pilot who lived at the base of Tokatoka would climb the peak to watch for sailing ships in Kaipara Harbour. He would have been very fit, because the walking track to the peak is a short, sharp climb of 20 minutes. Tokatoka peak is significant to local Maori and features in their mythology and history.

At Ruawai the road turned quite sharply west to head directly across the Island back to the other side. It began to drizzle (common in this area) as we climbed over the hills towards to east coast. Passing on SH12 through small townships like Matakohe and Paparoa, we met back up with SH1 at Brynderwyn again. A short drive brought us to Wellsford where we spotted a swimwear shop- hooray. It looked a bit 70s but had a costume only 1 size too large for me and some jellies for Steve. A friendly owner said the peninsula would be lovely now in 30 degrees sun! From here it was a short drive to Warkworth, where we turned off the highway and into the town.
Warkworth is a pretty town on the Kowhai (after the tree) coast/ Mahurangi River and gateway to the stunning beach areas to the east. It had charming heritage buildings and boutique shops, but we did not stop as we were heading to the regional park of Tawharanui and Mahurangi harbour.
At Warkworth we turned off SH1 towards the signs for Snells Beach and the Tawharanui peninsula. En route we filled up with diesel at Matakana townlet (quite pretty and wealthier looking) before turning off right at Omaha onto Takutu road towards the park. Matakana is a small town in Rodney District. Matakana River flows through the town into Kawau Bay. The area contains vineyards, market, cinema, cafes, restaurants and boutique food shops. The road, as stated, became a dusty (presumably muddy in winter) track steeply going up and down with spectacular views, dipping down to Jones Bay, then back up to Anchor Bay. At the final end it became paved again and after passing through the automatic pest- proofing gates (to protect the many native birds we saw) we parked right next to a beautiful beach. There were a few surfers on quite impressive waves, but we could see they were locals enjoying after work surfing as they knew where the underwater rocks were. We spent some time here before reluctantly setting off towards Auckland.

Set on a remote peninsula, Tawharanui Regional Park has beautiful beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and wetlands. There are 4 white sandy beaches on Tawharanui’s north coast totalling 3 kms. The main beach is Anchor Bay, 360 m of white sand in close proximity to picnic areas and an easy 70 m walk from the car park. Bird watching of rare native species- saddleback, North Island robin, bellbird, fantail, pateke (Brown Teal) and occasional kaka in the day, kiwi and morepork in the evening. Tawharanui offers spectacular views. From picturesque Anchor Bay to stunning ocean views via lookout points the islands of Hauraki Gulf are clearly visible. Summer gate opening 6:00am - 9:00pm.
The endangered New Zealand dotterel/ tūturiwhatu is found only in this country. The dotterel was once widespread and common, but now there are only 1,700 birds left, making dotterels more at risk than some species of kiwi. NZ dotterels are shorebirds, found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries. They are pale-grey on the back, with off-white underparts, which become flushed with rusty-orange in winter and spring. They have a prominent head, large dark-brown eyes and a strong black bill. Their colour make them difficult to see when standing still, but their habit of running quickly and pausing to feed makes them easy to identify. Their 'chip-chip' call is often heard before they are seen. The Northern NZ dotterel is found in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty. Nesting beaches include Mangawhai, Waipu, Te Arai, Tawharanui, and Papakanui Spit. Two or three eggs are laid in a scrape in the sand, among shells and driftwood just above high tide mark. Because they are hard to see, nests are sometimes crushed by people, vehicles, horses or stock. NZ dotterels will try to distract intruders near their nest by pretending to be injured, even faking a broken wing and leading the intruder away from the nest. Newly-hatched chicks, looking rather like bumble bees with long legs, are quickly active.
Brown Teal/ pāteke. The pāteke’s omnivorous diet, restricted annual range and terrestrial lifestyle give it a unique ecological niche among waterfowl, somewhat akin to a wetland rodent, and it serves as a classic example of the influence of selective forces that operated on birds in pre- human New Zealand. There are currently estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 pāteke living in a wild state in New Zealand, making it New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species on the mainland. They are a small dabbling duck, brown in colour with a distinctive white eye ring that makes them easily distinguishable from other ducks. When breeding, males have a green head that can vary from subtle to very strong iridescent green, sometimes with a white collar on the neck. The pāteke were once widespread throughout New Zealand, but they are now rare and restricted to coastal valleys of eastern Northland, including Tawharanui.
It took about an hour to return to Auckland, along SH1 and North Shore. We arrived back at their idea of rush hour, but it didn’t take long to find our hotel again. They had upgraded us to a suite- sweet! 5 rooms! Steve paid our tolls and we did our washing. We had already decided on where to eat, so we walked back to the Viaduct Harbour area and straight to Oysters and Chop restaurant where we could sit outside on the waterfront. I think this was probably our best meal in NZ. Oysters to start (I had wasabi, Steve had vodka), then duck breast with Cloudy Bay and Hawkes Bay wine and sticky date pudding to finish. http://oysterandchop.co.nz

Some Maori legends
Maui - Maui is the gifted, clever, tricky demigod of Polynesian mythology responsible for fishing up North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. After a miraculous birth and upbringing Maui won the affection of his supernatural parents, taught useful arts to mankind, snared the sun and tamed fire. But one of his most famous feats was fishing up the North Island.
Fishing up an island Despising him, Maui’s four brothers conspired to leave him behind when they went fishing. Overhearing their plans, Maui secretly made a fishhook from a magical ancestral jawbone. Then one night he crept into his brothers' canoe and hid under the floorboards. It wasn't until the brothers were far out of sight of land and had filled the bottom of their canoe with fish that Maui revealed himself. He took out his magic fishhook and threw it over the side of the canoe, chanting powerful incantations. The hook went deeper and deeper into the sea until Maui felt it had touched something. He tugged gently and far below the hook caught fast. It was a huge fish! Together with his brothers, Maui brought the fish to the surface. Maui cautioned his brothers to wait until he had appeased Tangaroa the god of the sea before they cut the fish. They grew tired of waiting and began to carve out pieces for themselves. These are now the valleys, mountains, lakes and rocky coastlines of the North Island.
Te Ika a Maui - Maui's fish To this day North Island is known as Te Ika a Maui or Maui’s fish. Take a look at a map of New Zealand to see the fish head in the south and its tail in the north. South Island is known as Te Waka a Maui or Maui’s canoe, and Stewart Island/ Rakiura as Te Punga a Maui or Mau’s anchor stone.

Posted by PetersF 22:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beach island north tasman te paihia kauri snells warkworth waipoua opononi omapere arai uru waikaki kopuru tawharanui Comments (0)

New Zealand - Glow worms to Geothermals

Auckland to Hamilton to Waitomo (glow worms) caves, Tirau (sheep dog sculptures and lunch), Rotorua, Hell’s Gate

Thursday 28th January 2016 Waitomo and Hells Gate, Rotorua

We left Auckland after a nice breakfast, making sure it was after 9am to avoid the rush. The drive on State Highway 1 took us quickly out of the Auckland area and into less dense suburbs. This part of NZ was noticeably more modern and wealthy. Past Mt Wellington and Mt Richmond (not high, but still obvious) we could see both the Tasman and the Pacific as we passed the thinnest part of North Island. Then on SH1 past the Bombay Hills to the main body of North Island. The road took us down almost the centre of the island past Lake Waikare and on alongside the Waikato River to Huntly. At Huntly we drove out of flat arable land and across a small mountain range (Hakarimata) to emerge the other side into a flat area again, the Horsham Downs. This quickly entered into the generously sized town of Hamilton. Here we continued in a valley with the high extinct volcano of Pirongia Mountain to our right (these mountains are limestone and contain many caves). Keeping the mountains to the side we continued down SH39 to Otorohanga town where we had a set of roundabouts to move us onto SH3. This road skirted the mountains and forests until we arrived at Hangatiki where we turned off towards Waitomo. Waitomo is a Maori word of two parts. 'Wai' (water) and 'tomo' (entrance or hole), so Waitomo is the 'stream that flows into the hole in the ground'. Waitomo District encompasses the main town and service centre of Te Kuiti and the townships of Waitomo, Mokau, PioPio, Awakino, Marokapa and Benneydale. The prosperous local economy is built around tourism, farming, mining and forestry. The road led fairly directly up into the hills with a pretty drive towards tree covered limestone mountains. After a few km we arrived at Waitomo village which looked like it had done well out of the caves. At 39 Waitomo Caves Road (500m west of town centre) we parked the car and crossed under the road to redeem our tickets. Slow service, but finally we were waiting outside the entrance for our guide.

Waitomo Caves
We'd time for a quick coffee, then it was inside (no cameras sadly). The cave is still owned by a Maori family who have decided on the no photos rule and are the only ones allowed to marry there. The first cave was quite open and still receiving lots of light. There was clearly a lot of movement in the rocks here with evidence of fairly recent falls internally.
The Tomo is one of the wonders of Waitomo, it is a 16 metre vertical limestone shaft which marks the course of an ancient waterfall which today flows only during heavy rains. The dramatic vertical drop is carefully lit to show the scalloped walls and layers of limestone. The Tomo was the last feature of the cave to be formed and links the upper level to Waitomo River below. The guide said that due to the recent rains the lower exit was flooded so we would be returning the same way we went in. She told us the story of how the cave was discovered and developed. Waitomo Glowworm Caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace. Local Maori knew of the caves, but the subterranean caverns were unexplored until Fred and Tane went to investigate. They built a raft of flax stems and with candles as their only lighting, floated into the cave where the stream goes underground. As they entered the caves, their first discovery was the Glowworm Grotto with its myriad of tiny bright lights dotting the cave ceiling. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they saw a multitude of lights reflecting off the water. Looking up, they discovered that the ceilings were dotted with the lights of thousands of glowworms. Debris and logs littered the waterway, but by using a pole to push themselves to the embankment they disembarked to explore the lower levels. They returned many times to explore further, and on an independent trip Chief Tane discovered the upper level of the cave and an easier access by land (today's entry point). By 1889 Tane Tinorau had opened the cave to tourists. Chief Tane and his wife Huti escorted groups through the cave for a small fee. In 1906 the administration of the cave was taken over by the government, but in 1989, the land and cave was returned to the descendants of the original owners. Many staff employed at the caves today are direct descendants of Tane Tinorau and Huti. This first, or upper level has recently seen some movement. Formed over 30 million years ago there are two levels to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which are 16 metres apart. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave, and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ and the Banquet Chamber.
As we descended into the second cavern (the Cathedral) there was abundant evidence of stalactites and stalagmites, with the inevitable naming of some- the best group was probably “The Family”- a stalagmite group that vaguely resembled a mother, father, child and dog. Moving into the centre of the cavern (18m high) the guide pointed out the excellent acoustics with a song- a few musicians, such as Kiri Te Kanawa and Madonna, have visited for just this purpose. The lower level consists of stream passages and the Cathedral. At the far end a viewing platform and very little light gave a view of the glow worm threads hanging down over the slow lake-river just below. Mygalomorphs – tarantula relatives. After this it felt a bit tame until we went down one floor more to a huge flooded cavern where we climbed on board a boat and were pulled through in the darkness to see literally thousands of glow worms- very magical. We were told not to put our fingers in as a lot of biting fish lived there. As you glide quietly beneath the lights of thousands of glowworms, the gentle sound of dripping water reminds you that you are deep underground and not beneath a star filled sky. After 20 minutes we were pulled back to the pontoon and left the cave. The whole tour took about 45 minutes.

The life of a glowworm
Glowworms are in fact the larval stage of the fungus gnat (similar to a mosquito). The worms are common in caves and moist shaded areas. Their scientific name is Arachnocampa luminosa. The bioluminescence of the grub comes from small tubes round its anus as a byproduct of execrations. A reaction between the luciferase enzyme and other chemicals produces a blueish-green light. This light is used to attract insects (including other glowworms) in the dark, which the grub then eats. The hungrier it is, the brighter the light. The grub hangs dozens of sticky threads that trap the insects it attracts. It feels the vibrations and sucks the insect dry or even eats it whole. The female retains the ability to bioluminesce as an adult to attract the male for mating, but the male loses his. After about 9 months the grub pupates and in 2 weeks is a mouthless adult. It has 2-3 days to mate before it starves to death. Cave spiders (actually harvesters) will eat glowworms. Fungi often infect them, giving them a fluffy white look.
The unique New Zealand cave spider, Spelungula cavernicola, has features intermediate between mygalomorphs and araneomorphs. Discovered in 1957, it lives in the twilight zone near the mouth of caves, and feeds on cave wētā and blowflies. Some cave spiders hang from the roof of caves on draglines, and feed and moult in this position. There are records of a cave spider grabbing a wētā, then letting itself down on a dragline, wrapping the prey in silk and eating it.

We left Waitomo towards lunch and knew we'd need to find somewhere to eat, but the prices locally were outrageous! So we headed back to Kihikihi on the SH3, then cut across to Cambridge to catch the SH1 again. The pretty winding road eventually led to a deep gorge that we crossed over at Piarere (Arapuni Gorge and River), past Matamata (Hobbiton) and eventually we arrived in the small town of Tirau. Great start to the town was a giant corrugated metal building in the shape of a sheepdog and a sheep. Shortly along the high street was a nice looking cafe, Poppy's cafe, http://www.poppyscafe.co.nz/ so we headed out back for a Caesar salad and cool drink under a shade.
Tirau is a Maori word - the translation being: Ti - Cabbage tree, rau - many ie the place of many Cabbage trees. Tirau has claimed corrugated iron art as it’s own, and now Steven Clothier's works line the streets!
The North Island robin (toutouwai) is a friendly and trusting bird and is found in both native and exotic forests. North Island robins often come within a couple of metres to people, and occasionally stand on a person’s boot. They measure 18 cm from beak to tail and weigh 35 grams (sparrow size). They have long, thin legs and an upright stance. The North Island robin is one of three sub-species of the New Zealand robin, each found on one of the main islands. They are all New Zealand robins although, the North Island robin is a different species from the other two subspecies (South and Stewart Island). North Island robins are dark slaty-grey with a pale greyish-white lower breast and belly. The upper dark feathers have pale shafts and so the birds appear faintly streaked. Exact colouration depends on age and sex. Males older than three are black, while females and young males are pale to dark grey. Both sexes have a small patch of white feathers at the base of the beak which is covered much of the time, only flashed when interacting with other robins. The North Island robin is found in native and exotic forests, from Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates; aphids, tree weta, stick insect, or earthworms. Items too large to swallow whole are flung from side to side against the ground or a log until broken into pieces. Although robins are unable to eat large prey items all at once, the excess is not wasted. Uneaten portions are stored in crevices or depressions on trunks and branches to be retrieved and eaten later. Male robins are renowned songsters of the forest, loudly singing from high perches in the canopy, especially in the early morning. Bachelor males also spend much time through the day giving full song in an attempt to attract a mate. Full song consists of a variety of simple notes strung together and sustained for up to 30 minutes with regular brief pauses.

Then it was on to Rotorua. The terrain became markedly more bumpy and volcanic looking, through the Kuranui Wilderness (woods and hills), along SH5 Thermal Explorer Highway, and into the Bay of Plenty region. We travelled around part of the lake with the odd whisp from a vent as we drew nearer, but not the smell everyone kept on about- just a faint occasional whiff as we got close to the lake. Our motel, Fenton Court, was perfectly sited close to Te Puia park where we could see quite a lot of rising steam. We gave in our breakfast order, then decided to head to Hells Gate Geothermal Park as we had open tickets.
Te Puia from the road
large_hells-gate-rotorua_49919071011_o.jpg Hells Gate

Arriving in Rotorua the region’s geothermal activity was evident with steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills. Our hotel was right next to Te Puia thermal park (Whakarewarewa geothermal valley) and we could easily see the famous Pohutu Geyser on the sinter terraces (Geyser Flat) - the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere; Te Tohu 'Prince of Wales Feathers' Pohutu’s neighbour geyser; Kereru Geyser named after New Zealand native wood pigeon due to a fan-shaped 15m plume resembling a bird tail on black sinter, Nga Mokai a Koko (Toys of Koko) mudpool where steaming bursts of mud reach 90- 95 °C, and Purapurawhetu Star Dust pool- named for small clusters of boiling mud like constellations. Its thick mud, formed by acidic breakdown of rocks/ soil by steam/ gas is kaolin and black sulphur.

Hells Gate Geothermal Park http://www.hellsgate.co.nz
We headed 15 mins east to Hells Gate, Rotorua’s most active geothermal park, with boiling hot pools and erupting waters with temperatures over 100°; steaming fumaroles; hot water lakes; sulphur crystal deposits; New Zealand's largest active mud volcano, a hot waterfall, and even land coral. See and touch the 3 unique geothermal muds of the park – hot black, ice cold white that changes from solid to liquid and back; warm silky grey. Some 2 tonnes of mud are produced every day. Follow the footsteps of warriors through swirling clouds of steam, past the pool where Maori Princess Hurutini died; see the violent "Inferno" with 2 erupting pools (Sodom and Gomorra) and on to Kakahi Hot Waterfall, where warriors returned after battle to remove ‘Tapu’ of war and heal their wounds. Hells Gate is the only Maori-owned geothermal park in New Zealand. Set in 50 acres Hells Gate is unique as it is the only acid sulphate geothermal system. As a result it does not have the beautiful colours of other geothermal parks, which are alkali chloride systems. The local Maori have owned the reserve for over 800 years. It is the site of many unique thermophiles.

Starting at Waharoa (carved gateway) we passed the Bridge Pools first (Tikitere area); consisting of Hurutini, Devils Bath, Hells Gate and the Ink Pots. This area formed some 10,000 years ago as a series of geothermal eruptions when an ancient lake drained to form Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua. The removal of the water caused faults in the rock, through which the steam, gases and boiling liquids could escape. Unlike most thermal parks in the area, the heat source for Hells Gate is only 2m below the surface (rather than the normal 10km+).
Hurutini pool is named after a Maori princess who sacrificed herself for her people. These sulphurous waters are 68 °C, pH 3.5 and 15m deep. The large hot pool, Hell’s Gate was in constant motion from gases moving through it, despite not having a visible inlet/outlet. It was named by George Bernard Shaw in 1906. It is 62 °C, pH 3.5 and 25m deep. Opposite was Devils Bath, a shallow pool (6m) of 70 °C, pH 4. In times past the tohunga (high priest) would bath here to gain powers of foresight. The smaller set of pools, the Ink Pots, appear as a black graphite-colour crack from the sulphides. These are 98 °C, pH2 and 20m deep. The last in the area is the tiny Baby Adam, a collection of small pools constantly moving. This pool was also named by GBS after his nephew Adam, wiggling as a baby on his knee. Temperature 68 °C, pH 6 and 1m deep.
Hurutini Pool; Devil’s Bath; Ink Pots; Baby Adam
The next area we walked to was just a few metres further round; the Inferno Pools, comprising Sulphur Bath, Infants, Inferno, Spraying Pools and Sodom and Gomorrah). The Inferno is 3 main pools with temperatures ranging 105-110 °C, pH 3.5 and 8-10m deep. The water comes out at over 100 °C because the minerals in it raise the boiling point beyond 100. Sodom and Gomorrah were again named by GBS. The erupting pools had temperatures of 100 °C+, and spray up to 2m. The Infants (yep, named by GBS due to their constant activity) are a set of small, very active pools. The Spraying Pools were not really pools, but in fact surface water interacting with the super heated ground similar to dropping water into hot fat (hence the geothermic name of the Frying Pan effect).
Sulphur Bath; Infants; Inferno Pool; Spraying Pools
We did not complete the circle round the first area, as from here we headed up the path, past the Maori bird catchers, the beautiful flowers of camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons (over 100 years old) and the cold water pond on the Bush Walk. We could hear, but not see, the bellbirds and fantails. At the top of the walk we could hear the waterfall before we saw it. Kakahi Falls is the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, at around 40 °C. The falls were used by Maori warriors to cleanse their wounds after battle, as the sulphur acted as a good anaesthetic. The Maori name for the falls is O Te Mime O Te Kakaki /Urine of Kakahi (who was a famous warrior).
Entrance; Sodom and Gomorrah; Kakahi Falls; bird catcher
A few more metres brought us out into a desolate landscape with steam everywhere. Turning left we entered the Sulphur Crystal Valley (the name says it all)- an area covered in deposited sulphur from the geothermal activity. The blackened area is a unique phenomenon; the result of spontaneous combustion when the sun/ hot ground heated the sulphur to 120 °C. The sulphur then burns at 380 °C, causing the silica rocks to melt and flow like lava. At the top of this part was the Devil’s Cauldron and Devil’s Throat; areas of black, grey and white mud with temperatures of 120 °C. The ponds were constantly plopping, bubbling and moving. We continued on the “long” walk up to the Mud Volcano, the largest in NZ. Most can only grow to 1m before collapsing, but this one is 2.4m and still growing. We climbed the viewing platform to look down into it. Interestingly the cone is the same shape as Mt Ruapehu and behaves in a similar way. The mud (rather than lava) discharges mud lahars end over 6 weeks these harden. This causes pressure and the top layer of mud explodes (usually overnight). In the distance we could see steaming cliffs, so we headed over to look. En route we passed Ruaumoko’s Voice (the Maori volcano god), a noisy fumarole. These were the Steaming Cliffs with a large boiling erupting pool at its base, the hottest in the park at 122-145 °C. As we watched the water erupted several metres high. To the left and right were two smaller different colour pools from a 2002 eruption.
Sulphur Crystal Valley; Devil’s Cauldron; Devil’s Throat; Ruaumoko’s Voice
Hot Sulphur Lake; Mud volcano; Steaming Cliffs; Cooking Pool
On round took us over the cold water Waiarere stream with the Hot Sulphur Lakes (Koro Koro) to our right. The water in these three large lakes is over 90 °C and feeds the waterfall. Koro is a bird’s throat and refers to the native birds that throng here to eat the cooked insects (from the heat). Two smaller ponds completed the area, Cooking Pool and Sulphur Medicine Lake. The cooking pool (temperature 90 °C) was traditionally used to cook ceremonial meats. The black water actually softens the meat and the heat cooks it. At the edge e could see a rare extremophile land coral; a thermophilic bacteria that feeds on nutrients in the water and over time becomes coated in silica to form a coral. The Medicine Lake, with its yellow-green waters, was used by the Maori to treat skin and bone issues. We felt the soft grey mud (a sign said it was OK) and realised how soothing it would be. It was 38 °C at the edge and reached 68 °C in the centre. The last pool of this area was the Map of Australia (naturally made and actually quite similar) around 48 °C.
Sulphur Medicine Lake and Map of Australia
Then it was back down the path to Tikitere area to finish the loop with its steaming fumaroles. The sulphur was forming stalactites and stalagmites with yellow crystals everywhere. All in all, a very impressive park!
We had a brilliant time at Hells Gate and spent longer there than we thought we would. On the way back we stopped at a huge supermarket and got some fruit, wine, beer and nuts!
Then we parked back at Fenton Court motel http://www.fentoncourt.co.nz and walked 2 minutes down the road to a popular restaurant called Urbanos Bistro. It was getting a little cooler so we sat inside. We'd planned to have water but the owner persuaded us to try a Hawkes Bay red which was ok. http://www.urbanobistro.co.nz/
As we walked back to the motel it was the most glorious sunset, so we ran our private hot tub, put on the bubbles and enjoyed a glass of wine in it.

Posted by PetersF 22:43 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland rotorua island cave north geothermal gate worms waitomo glow tirau hamilton hell’s Comments (0)

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