Category Archives: Ferry

Coramandel to Waipu Cove-Day 23-24

Kauri Forest and Then Up Coramandel-Day 23-24

Views on Way to Kauri
Views on Way to Kauris

We left Sapphire Springs in search of a really big Kauri tree that was supposed to live nearby. Kauri trees have beautiful, tightly grained, durable wood and huge forests of them used to cover the islands, but the original stands were decimated in the 1800’s and have not  recovered. These days the oldest trees are given their own individual names and protected within parks and people are attempting to cultivate new groves of them.

The sign at the trail head has a cleaning station, with a boot brush and an underground tank with a spray nozzle to clean your boots  before you enter the forest.

Kauri Tree Disease Prevention
Kauri Tree Disease Prevention

Every Kauri stand we come across has these stations in an effort to prevent the spread of a soil borne fungal disease, Phytopthora agathadicidia that is now attacking the trees.  It is good to see them trying so hard to prevent the disease, even though the chances are slim that it will help much.

Young Kauri Forest
Young Kauri Forest

After hiking for an hour and a half we figured out that we were on the wrong trail, and were instead in a young Kauri forest, so we had to go on down the road to the next trail head.

Tuahu Kauri Tree
Tuahu Kauri Tree

Once on the correct path, we quickly arrived at this tree, named Tuahu, which was huge and towered over the surrounding forest. We met a local man and his well traveled grandson while enjoying the tree. The boy was ten years old and had already been to the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore in the States.

As we resumed our drive towards the coast we came to an interesting looking park in a narrow gorge, with swinging bridges over the river, and decided to stop.

Karangahake Gorge

Originally a protected Maori gateway, this steep walled canyon became  an industrial gold mine from 1883-1933. Thirteen levels  of tunnels were chiseled through the mountain,  and rails carried the broken quartz rocks along narrow ledges to wood fired kilns. The surrounding hills were totally deforested to provide fuel. After eighty some years, the trees and ferns have reclaimed the area

Karangahake Gorge Walkway
Karangahake Gorge Walkway

Today, the woods have grown back over the old mine buildings and some of the tunnels have walking trails through them,with swinging bridges criss crossing the river.

Reflection of Outside-Inside
Reflection of Outside-Inside
Tree Fern
Tree Fern
Interior of Tree Fern Trunk
Interior of Tree Fern Trunk

Giant tree ferns, flowers and lichens add color.

Beauty Comes Back
Beauty Comes Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hahei Beach

We finally make it to the coast and a stop at Hot Water Beach, a very strange place which seems like a normal beach until you realize that there are a lot of people and everyone is carrying a shovel.

People With Shovels on Hot Water Beach
People With Shovels on Hot Water Beach

We follow a string of folks out to a tightly bunched crowd, all madly digging holes in the sand and sitting in them as they fill with water.

Sitting in the Dug Out Pools
Sitting in the Dug Out Pools

It is pretty amusing to watch this whole process and although I am not digging, I can see where if you had a bunch of friends and some beer, it might be fun. Hot water seeps onto this section of the beach from a couple of 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) springs, for two hours either side of low tide. It is a small area and there is a fair amount of jostling for best position.

20151217_3333 A flourishing business has evolved with shovel rentals,        paid parking and cabin rentals nearby.

Our  campground for the night, the Hahei Holiday Park is just a short drive around the cove. A couple of boys are doing a great job of miming a rope pulled taut across the road as we approach the entrance gate. We pretend to be held back for a few seconds before they collapse to the ground laughing and we give them a “Good job!” and a thumbs up. All the people that work at the park are in the middle of an outdoor  Christmas party, so they tell us to park in an empty section and catch them in the morning. A thunder storm is brewing up black clouds as we find our spot and then quick head down to yet another beautiful beach before it hits.

Storm Brewing on Hahei Beach
Storm Brewing on Hahei Beach

As usual on most New Zealand beaches (except the hot water one) there is hardly anyone around and it is breathtakingly beautiful, with little islands off shore, long vistas, clean water, and clean sand. When the sky starts turning an alarming shade of green, we high tail it back towards the camper van, but the storm beat us back and we get totally drenched. The rain is coming down in buckets, wind is whipping the trees and we pile into the van and wait it out. Dinner does not happen tonight because the storm did not let up until late, so we just had a snack and lay on the bed reading and downloading camera cards for awhile. When it finally stopped raining we got out and set the tent up over the tailgate, went to the bath house and washed up and crawled into bed.

When I went to the kitchen in the morning for my coffee water, I was disappointed to find no table inside, only picnic tables outdoors, and since they were all wet from the storm, there was no where to eat and no one else around to talk to. I ended up using our own little table and chairs, which we hardly ever use, back at the van. This place looks like it is going to be a big party spot in a couple of weeks and they are booked solid. There are lots of different showers, a covered airing room to dry bathers and such and I notice how different the plumbing is here than at home.

Wash House
Wash House

The water pipes are all exposed and not insulated in any way, which probably means it does not ever freeze here. They are able to have wash stations and fish cleaning sinks and all outside all year round.

Cathedral Cove

There are hiking trails and cool destinations close by and today we are walking out to Cathedral Cove so we get an early start.

Dept of Conservation Trails
Dept of Conservation Trails

Lucky that we did because the parking area is already getting

crowded and I imagine in peak season it is impossible to find a space. we have packed a lunch , swimsuits and sunscreen, since it is sunny and warming up fast.

Flat Cliff Top Meadow
Flat Cliff Top Meadow

We walk through tropical forest with openings into sunny meadows and views of the ocean.

Arch to Cathedral Cove
Arch to Cathedral Cove

Then down a steep path to a white sandy beach cove surrounded by cliffs and sea caves with the clearest blue water.

Changing Cave
Changing Cave

At his point we had to duck into a sea cave and change into swim suits.

Cathedral Beach Sea Stack
Cathedral Beach Sea Stack

We waded around and walked through the cool shady archway into another secluded beach with sea stacks.

Cool Shady Beach Cave
Cool Shady Beach Cave

It seems like this huge shady cave would be an excellent place to cool off on a hot day at the beach. It is open on two sides with great views of the water.

Cathedral Beach Path
Cathedral Beach Path

The day was warm and sunny, the water clear and still a bit cold, but we waded around, relaxed,  and checked out the caves and cliffs until the tide came in too much. There were a few people here picnicking and a group of kayakers wandered in but it was not crowded yet. I wanted to stay here all day, scrabbling over the rocks and exploring further up the coastline but we had to walk back out through meandering pathways to the van and continue our journey. Darn it.

We headed  around the Coramandel Peninsula on the road. There are tracks at the far north where no roads go which would be good hiking.

Random Roadside Bee Hives
Random Roadside Bee Hives

Colorfully painted beehives are randomly parked all over roadsides throughout New Zealand and we passed some of these on the way. I never saw any that were all one color.

Coming Down the Coramandel Range
Coming Down the Coramandel Range

Then we climbed a steep hill and dropped down the other side for a nice view of the west side of the Coramandel Coast.

Fishing Boats Out On Coramandel
Fishing Boats Out On Coramandel

We started to see fleets of fishing boats in the harbors.

Pied Shag
Pied Shag

Then there was a whole group of a Cormorant type bird called a Pied shag. I love the way they stand around and dry their armpits.

Jeff wanted to go into Auckland to get more information on the northern part of the island, right into the center of the city.

Auckland Free for All
Auckland Free for All

When the pedestrian lights are GO they come from all directions at once and totally clog the center of the intersection. No cars move, only people. There were a lot of people.

Auckland Tower
Auckland Tower

The i-site was a few blocks walk from where we parked, in the base of the big needle tower. Gathering travel information was a bust because the internet was down all over the city. No body knew what to do. I just wanted out. On the way, we watched crazy people suit up in flight coveralls to jump off the tower– from really high up. They were tethered to bungee cords and guy wires but it looked pretty scary. I just wanted to get out of town and our talking GPS kept turning us around in circles. We finally made it out and headed north again. Seemed like we drove all day long and we did not stop until we got to Waipu Cove, except for a quick stop at a super windy beach camp that was full anyway.

Waipu Cove

The camp at Waipu Cove was one of the nicest ones, with a cozy kitchen and shiny new bathrooms. Tonight is our twenty first night traveling around in New Zealand. We have another five days here and then we have a week in Perth, Australia.

Waipu Cove Kitchen and Bath
Waipu Cove Kitchen and Bath

We pulled into camp fairly late in the day and as usual, wanted to go right out on the beach. We had to cross a wetland to get to the dunes walk and they had a hand powered rope ferry to pull yourself across on.

Hand Ferry Across Waipu Marsh
Hand Ferry Across Waipu Marsh

I loved crossing the water on the little floating ferry and walking the winding path through the dunes. The wide open and deserted beach was one of the few where we actually found shells. There was no one out there but us.

Shells from Waipu Cove
Shells from Waipu Cove

There is only one other tent there tonight, although closer to the road there are quite a few cabins with folks that look like they are staying for long periods.

Waipu Campsite
Waipu Campsite

We cook our dinner at Waipu Cove and make ready for another day. It is peaceful and quiet and we can see a lot of stars out and hear the ocean. Tomorrow, there are the Waipu limestone caves that we have to explore

-Wendy Lee Writing at Edgewise Woods, Gardens and Critters

 

 

 

 

Farewell Spit-Foxton Fizz-Day 15-17

Farewell Spit-Day 15

As we leave Wharariki and the Puponga Farm Park I say,

“Stop the car! I see a face”

There is a an old man’s face in a natural rock formation  across the valley. I managed to see this without realizing it was there, which made it that much more fun. There are signs for those that need them.

Old Man Rock
Old Man Rock

We soon feel the need to take a small detour to a visitor center located on the hill above Farewell Spit. There is a sign at the center saying it is no longer in operation, it is for sale, but you can still walk the track, plus there is a skeleton in the yard. I believe it is a Pilot  whale from one of the many strandings that occur in this shallow bay.

Random Marine Skeleton at Old Visitors Center
Pilot Whale Skeleton at Old Visitors Center
Above Farewell Spit
Above Farewell Spit

We climb the hill for this view to the north. The tide is out and the mudflats are huge here. We look the other way, towards the west and see the spit. From the air it looks like a slender scythe blade, curving around a bay.

Farewell Spit in the Rainy Distance
Farewell Spit in the Rainy Distance

If we were staying longer I would like to walk the spit to the end, but that is not going to happen this trip. There are so many multi-day tracks to do here it is a little frustrating when we have to leave each place. So many places to go…

We get back in the van to retrace our route back, stopping at Takaka town for groceries. When we come out, in the pouring rain again, we have a totally flat tire. Great. We call the Spaceship people for advice as we are supposed to but there is nothing they can do. It is Saturday night, everything is closed. Shops are closed Sunday as well. We eat some cheese and crackers and wait for the rain to let up, which it does, eventually. At least we are in a parking lot with lights and not on the side of a shoulder-less mountain road. After reading the tire changing instruction card, we manage to install the temporary tire, and get back on the road. We have way more kilometers to go than the limit of 90 km stated on the tire, and we have to go back over that steep mountain with all the switchbacks yet, which makes me really nervous. On the way we see evidence of the coming Christmas. I think today is December 12.

Santa Clause Riding an Irrigation Line
Santa Clause Riding an Irrigation Line

New Zealander’s seem to have a sense of humor when it comes to things we see along the side of the road. Apparently Santa rides  his irrigation line in where he can’t find reindeer.

We made it over the mountain, with little fog and no rain, and all the way back to the Mapua Holiday Camp by about 10:pm.  We parked in the same spot as the night before, and didn’t even bother to tell them until the morning. They had a nice laundry house so we washed and dried our clothes before we left, and played with Joey, the bird. Onward to Picton!

Getting Near Picton
Getting Near Picton

The sun has actually decided to come out and warm us up! There are all kinds of bays, islands and peninsulas on the way.

Sawmill Port
Sawmill Port
Ferry Route
Ferry Route

We bought our ticket for the Inter Island ferry Line for $152. I think that if you plan ahead and know when you will want to sail, you can get discounted fares. We didn’t plan like that.

While we waited for our departure time, we found a service station that was actually open (on Sunday) and he fixed our tire up right. Then we spent a little time in the Aquarium ,right on the docks,  which had live animals.

Little Blue Penguin
Little Blue Penguin
Long Necked Turtle
Long Necked Turtle
Tuatara
Tuatara

There was also the Edwin Fox Museum, which houses the oldest surviving merchant ship on earth, next door. We had to go line up our van for the ferry though. We were out of time.

It takes 4 hours to cross the Cook Strait and it can be a rough ride. The ferry we were on was so big it had 10 levels, held 1600 passengers, had movie theaters, food, recliners, you name it. We did not feel the water at all, but we spent a lot of the time on the top deck and it was super windy up there. It wasn’t cold though, and it wasn’t raining either.

Our Ferry
Our Ferry

We couldn’t stay inside and relax. We had to wander the top deck the whole time, going from side to side for the best views. Occasionally we hunkered down behind a bulkhead to get some relief from the wind. There were Salmon farms, Mussel Farms, mountains, sailboats…

Floating Salmon Farm
Floating Salmon Farm
Last of South Island
Last of South Island

You could always see some little piece of land. The mountains are big enough to see from very far off. There are windmills strategically placed in the windiest spot. I am surprised we did not see more windmills on the South Island, but they generate most of their power from water melting off the mountains.

Wind Farm in a Good Spot
Wind Farm in a Good Spot
City of Wellington looms Large
City of Wellington looms Large

As we enter Wellington harbor we see it is surrounded by what looks to be quite a large city, so we  drive off the ferry and get away as soon as we can. I know there are good museums there but now the sun is out again and I do not want to be inside.

The road hugs the west coast for a bit as we head north, with flat coastal farmland on our right. There is a whole lot of beach , more traffic than we are used to, and we keep driving until we reach the little town of Levin, where there is a camp site for us.P1010573

There is also a Rosemary Hedge taller than me outside the very nice kitchen block.

Levin Rosemary Hedge
Levin Rosemary Hedge

Foxton-Day 16

We had a good nights sleep and continued on our way in the morning with the sun still shining. I spot a big Dutch windmill as we drive by the village of Foxton and we stop to check it out.

Foxton Windmill- built in 1972
Foxton Windmill- built in 1972

We took the self guided tour through three levels and then went around the outside on the upper deck. This working flour mill  was built in 1970-72 using high quality craftsmanship  and impressive handmade wooden cogs and gears.

Wooden Gears at Foxton
Wooden Gears at Foxton

It also housed a little museum of sorts for a local soda pop, The Foxton Fizz, which has a humorous advertising campaign worth clicking on the link for.

Foxton Fizz as Molotov Cocktail
Foxton Fizz as Molotov Cocktail

We bought a small bag of freshly milled flour, had a piece of carrot cake down in the adjoining shop and then started noticing all the murals.

Foxton Flood Mural
Foxton Flood Mural

P1210772  Some of the Murals were about  earthquakes. Foxton and all of New Zealand, gets earthquakes regularly. I don’t know how we managed not to feel any while we were here.  Click the green link to get the latest on that. Apparently Foxton has experienced  29 quakes (above mag 1.5) in the past year and Christ Church just had a 5.8 magnitude earthquake a few days ago, on February 14. That is a little unnerving.

There is a blog by KiwiDutch with some more good photos of the Foxton Murals and other travels as well.

The Town of Bulls

I had forgotten about this little town called Bulls. They have a big sign as you enter that says “Welcome to Bulls-A Town Like No Udder!”

A little Kiwi humor for you.

Volcanics

So, onward towards the volcanics!

Ugly Town, Pretty Mt
Ugly Town, Pretty Mt

 

 

Sorry. I had to include some real world ugly roadside with the gorgeous mountain in the background. There was an I-site here and we made reservations for a hike on the Tongariro Track tomorrow, along with two nights at base camp and a shuttle back and forth from the trailheads. I am not really looking forward to this seriously exhausting  hike but I am trying to be positive about it.

Gorgeous Mountain with No Ugly Added
Gorgeous Mountain with No Ugly Added

 

Jeff got a speeding ticket through here but we didn’t find out about it until after we got home. The road was really straight and the scenery was a bit distracting.

We  made a quick stop at at  a bridge over a crevasse called Tree Trunk (video link) where  really good kayakers manage to run Waikato gorge .  We looked down at it and thought NO WAY, but obviously we are just novices and chickens besides. Oh, well.

Tokeanu Hot Springs

We went on up the road and stopped at our first thermal pools instead.

wild Tokeanu Thermal Pools
wild Tokeanu Thermal Pools

NZ frenzy says you can get into some diverted hot pools here but they look totally uninviting- dirty cement bath tubs with hardly any water in them-that you have to sneak onto private property to get to.

Cement Troughs with Hot Spring Diversion Channel
Cement Troughs with Hot Spring Diversion Channel

So we did the walk path around, checked out all the bubbling mud pots and hot springs, and then went inside the building there and rented a really nice (private, clean, and open to the sky above) hot pool  for 20 minutes. It was heaven and more than 20 minutes would have cooked us to mush. You don’t get pictures of this…

Tongariro Mt
Tongariro Mt

There were two Maori historical sites we visited. One was Opotaka village/ campsite and the other was a battlefield where they first used firearms to kill each other. The island in the lake is a sacred site and the mountain in the background is where we will be hiking up to the volcano tomorrow.

There were some friendly ducks and pretty flowers at the Maori site.

Duck
Duck

 

 

Nice Flower
Nice Flower

 

 

 

 

 

We are staying near Lake Taupo and there are black swans and small lava rocks floating on the edges. Pocket size and not heavy. Steam vents are visible on the hills all around the lake.

Base Camp Cooking
Base Camp Cooking

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we have to be fed, packed and ready for the shuttle bus. The camp kitchen is packed, so I am cooking on the Coleman stove tonight. Our friendly German neighbors  are  also going on the Tongariro  hike and we all turn in early.

Wendy Lee- Writing at Edgewise Woods Gardens and Crtitters