New Zealand January 2007 Part 2
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After reluctantly leaving the Coromandel, we headed north. One stop was at Muriwai Beach near Helensville. Here there is a large colony of nesting Gannets. At this time of year the chicks are quite large and not too far away from their first flight. It had beeter be a good one, or the chick drops like a set of car keys into the rocks below.
Next stop Tutukaka Coast, where the weather turned dodgy and our explorations were somewhat curtailed. We did get to poke around some of the nice local beaches. This one is at Matapouri Bay.
The Waipoua Kauri Forest is a great place to visit. The Kauri is the second largest treein the world, (as measured by volume) with only the Giant Sequoia. These magnificent trees were logged extensively in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and formed a significant part of the economy and character of New Zealand during these times. There are very few large trees left. Although it is impossible to convey in a photo the size of these things, here is Zane in front of "Tane Mahuta" or God of the Forest, the largest living Kauri.
As you may imagine, it was quite difficult to transport these huge trees to the mill once they were felled. Using some good old fahioned Kiwi Ingenuity, the loggers built wooden dams. They stacked up the logs behind the dams and closed the gates. When enough water was backed up the opened the dams, unleashing a flood of water and massive logs that eventually made it down to the mill.
Our final stop was Dargaville, once a bustling lumber port near the entrance of the Kaipara Harbor, the largest harbor in the southern hemisphere. We took a tour out on Ripiro Beach on the West Coast, which is a stunning 100km long. Over 150 shipwrecks have been found here, dating back to 1561. The contantly changing sand hides and reveals secrets. The dunes are massive and beautiful. Good for butt-sliding too as Zane demonstrates.
The rain followed us to Rawene, a historic ferry crossing town on the Hokinga Harbor. Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's this was a booming logging area, and the town has a great collection of buildings from that time. More recent times have not been so kind ecomomically, and the town is rather quiet today.
In between downpours at Rawene we got in some swimming at the local beach. Although the water down at the wharf was teeming with jellyfish there were ony a couple at the swimming beach and they did not cause us any trouble.
The Kaipara lighthouse at Pouto Point was built in 1884 (of Kauri, of course) to aid in navigation into the Kaipara Harbor. The shifting sands since then have advanced on the lighthouse.