Friday, August 14, 2015

Oh Bay! (of Islands and of Plenty)

One of the best things about traveling is the friends you make along the way. Jacki and Greg  (friends of friends) hosted me in Opua, in The Bay of Islands north of Auckland.
She was also a fantastic guide with a crazy deep knowledge of the area. She took me tramping about for a day to historic whaling and trade spots. Somewhat reminiscent of Massachusetts, but with Maori influence.
That night, as the sun set, she took me to Oihi Bay, a park/reserve that is the site of the first Christian service on New Zealand. Now it's home to a good size group of Kiwi birds. They are a nocturnal, vulnerable and often endangered bird as they have no protection against non-native predators. (Dogs, cats, stoats and ferrets) To get to hear or see them is a rare and wonderful thing. I heard about six calling in the night and saw two! They are not a graceful bird, silly lumpy things. And the female we saw waddling along, was most probably filled with the egg she'll hatch come spring.
Following day Jacki got me onto a dolphin cruise where, right out of the harbor we sighted a pod feeding. They swam along side and in front of the boat for a bit. Spectacular!
A note here on the absence of kiwi, dolphin or seal pics (yes I saw them too). Sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment, without the rush to capture it.
We were dropped off in Russell, which is just as historic, no matter what the sign says.
I'm in Rotorora now. Home of redwoods and sulphur springs.
And more gorgeous flowers.
The Silver Fern is a symbol of New Zealand and found all over the islands.
By the way, NZ does know how to do chips (thick cut French fry) which I have no problem with!
There is a bird sanctuary here on the lake and I had a little wander through there today.
This is a Pukeko. Great blue color.
The sulphur is strong in this one.
I spent some time in the hot springs baths yesterday. Very relaxing.
I'm off to Linton, Palmerston North to WWOOF. WWOOF is an organization setting folks up to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board. I'll be at a sort of animal sanctuary for the week.