Other than a brief sortie into town to walk along the docks, we spent the last day in Paihia sitting in the apartment and watching the ever changing sky and water. There was for me an unusual pattern in the water as the tides moved. A flotsam of sorts creates long white lines moving across the blue water. The final night’s sunset was particularly beautiful.
Our next stay is in a harbor town back south toward Auckland. Rather than heading directly south to Whangarei, we traversed the Island to the west in order to see the Kauri tree. It is the largest tree in girth in New Zealand growing up to 165 feet high and as large in diameter as the Sequoia. The difference being the kauri maintain that girth to the canopy. Our search was for ‘Te Matua Ngahere’ the 2000 year old giant in the Waipoua Forest. We found our tree and were appropriately awestruck. Also in this forest are ferns so large we thought them to be palms. The drive in and out of the forest was steep and hairy with constant triple cutbacks. And, don’t forget we are on the WRONG side of the road.
It is the kauri that was used to make the Long Boat seen at Waitangi. They were also desired by American and European ship builders for masts. By the 1900s less than 10% of the original kauri survived. Today less than 4% of uncut forest remain. I had known of this tree when reading Barkskins by Annie Proulx. This book follows the settling and cutting of Canadian forests by the French. At one point these and British logging companies went to New Zealand and began cutting the Kauri. It’s a very interesting and well written book.
We drove into town tonight and went to the harbor area for dinner. There were dozens and dozens of people around all dressed in white. We thought we were at a Kardashian wedding. Turns out to be some big annual social even on the water front called the White Plate Dinner. We went straight for the multicolored venison dinner plate. A lot of really repetitive pictures of the landscape are at flickr.
We arrived late afternoon in Whangarei where we are staying outside of town in a lovely old home with 15 foot ceilings, orchards and a swimming pool. We are here for 2 nights. Pictures at flickr.