Postcards from the Muriwai Gannet Colony

Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Māngere (Auckland), North Island — New Zealand

We decided to spend our last day in New Zealand in the company of birds — specifically with the Australasian gannets at the Muriwai Beach Gannet Colony.

Maukatia Bay — it's all about the surf and surfing here, but ...

... we're here for the gannet colony at the tip of the headland.

Just so you don’t think all we saw were small dots …

… here’s a closer look at some of the adults and chicks that kept company with us.

Photobombed!

What a great end to our six weeks in New Zealand.

Postcards from the Kauri Museum

Monday, 23 March 2015
Māngere (Auckland), North Island — New Zealand

Leaving Dargaville for Auckland around 9:00a, we stopped in Matakohe where we spent several hours at the Kauri Museum.  As explained on the museum website, the exhibits “… tell the story of our pioneering settlers though the lens of the Kauri Industry.  The museum specializes in the legacy of our Kauri Forests; specifically the strong durable timber and the highly prized Kauri Gum.”

From top to bottom, the markers show …
1100 — approximate date of seeding of the tree.
1642 — Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.
1769 — Cook Discovers New Zealand.
1840 — the Treaty of Waitangi is signed.
1960 — tree cut down.

The world's largest kauri slab — measuring 74 feet (22.5 m) long.

As interesting as it was to learn more about the giant kauris, what we really enjoyed about the museum were all the heritage exhibits … but that’s for later.

Postcards from the Road: Ahipara to Dargaville

Sunday, 22 March 2015
Dargaville, North Island — New Zealand

A sunny, warm day found us traveling south along the west side of North Island to our final overnight stop before we arrive in Auckland, from where we will be flying home on Wednesday.  We visited several places of interest along the way; saw some sights; did some walks … short and longish.  In summary ... a great day.

The Koutu Boulders line a beach overlooking Hokiango Harbour.

Martin Bay from the Signal Hill Overlook near Omapere.

Tasman Sea from the Signal Hill Overlook near Omapere.

There is no way to do justice to the giant Kauri trees with photos … you have to see
them for yourself to appreciate their size and gaze at them in wonder.

Left to Right: Tāne Mahuta; Yakas; Four Sisters.

Postcards from Cape Reinga

Saturday, 21 March 2015
Ahipara, North Island — New Zealand

Putting our faith in the weather forecast that it would be clearing after noon, we enjoyed a quiet morning at our beachfront lodgings before heading up to Cape Reinga, the northwesternmost point of North Island.  The forecasters were way off in their predictions, but at least we got some postcard images between the rain showers.

Cape Reinga is where the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean meet.

Te Rewahi Beach, with Cape Maria Von Diemen in the distance.

The Cape Reinga lighthouse was built in 1941 and first lit during May of that year.
the last manned light to be built in New Zealand; it is now automated.

Cape Maria von Diemen from the lighthouse platform.

Cape Reinga is known as Te Rerenga Wairua in Māori.  According to legend,
this is the place from which Māori spirits enter the underworld.

Despite the rain, I’m glad we made the 150-mile (250 km) roundtrip drive.  The views were definitely worth it … not to mention the Tip Top ice cream we treated ourselves to on the way back ;-)

Postcards from the Road: From History to Surf

Friday, 20 March 2015
Ahipara, North Island — New Zealand

Catching the 9:15a Okiato-Opua ferry, the easiest way to travel between Russell and the mainland, we headed to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to learn more about the treaty signed in 1840 between Māori Chiefs and the British Crown.  Then we were off to Ahipara, on the west coast of the island, to check-in at our beachfront accommodations overlooking 90 Mile Beach.

Looking across the bay from the Treaty Grounds.

This waka houses the Māori ceremonial canoe.

The Beachfront … a great place to enjoy happy hour on the patio and watch the sunset.