Northland Adventures

Cruising Northland’s center and east coast

Today (Monday) was spent on the road as we drove from Wangerei to Paihia via central Northland.  Yesterday at the refinery, the attendant tried giving us all sorts of advice on what we should do and see; when Gerry told her we wanted to check out the cinder cones and basalt gravel quarries, she was rather dismissive, telling us we didn’t want to do that at all, but should take the coastal road to Paihia.  Gerry politely allowed her to draw all sorts of arrows on the map then proceeded not to follow a single one today.

Pasture fence made up of basalt

Try to tell a geologist what he should see when there’re outcrops, basalt pasture fences and unique land forms to view and that’s what you get …. : )

The country we drove through today is cattle country, full of ranches (“stations”), many w/large herds of milk cows

Here come the Holsteins!

roaming about, some with shorn sheep grazing the hillsides, and a very few w/one or two horses.  The rolling hills, green and lush, are heavily vegetated, so finding outcrops is quite challenging.  Gerry planned much of our tour using the New Zealand Geological Survey Field Guide, so following the mile markers carefully took us to two falls, two quarries, and one deep river gorge.  As the countryside was pretty similar, I must admit my eyes drifted shut now and then throughout the day —  : /  — but I walked and/or hiked to all the points of interest.  Kudos for Jan!

Paihia, recipient of THREE stars in the guidebook, is a charming seaside town.  The tourist trade is a big deal here so strolling the shore this evening took us past many a restaurant and souvenir shop.  We’re making notes of things we’d like (Gerry’s pretty determined to find a NZ hat.) – later in the trip will be plenty of time to make the purchases.

Sun, sights and serenity ….

Heeding the advice of several folks (and our guidebook), we planned Tuesday’s activities around taking the ferry from Paihia across the Bay of

Looking back at Paihia on the way to Russell on the ferry

Islands to Russell (the settlement that was actually the first town of note in the area).  It was at Russell that the first Anglican church was started in the early 1800’s, it was at Russell where whaling ships came to port for revelry and resupplying, it was at Russell that Charles Darwin made a contribution to the mission outreach to the Maori – it is a historically rich place, so spending the day there was worthwhile and interesting.

We appreciate the historical perspective we gain on trips like this.  Here in the Northland, Anglican Archdeacon Henry Williams is a revered and respected missionary who brought news of Jesus Christ to the Maori people in 1820 (much like the Congregationalists who came to Hawaii as missionaries in 1820).  While touring yesterday, we came upon a country church in

Anglican church at Pakataka

Pakataka established around 1830 whose cemetery housed Williams’ grave and this morning, we toured a stone church here in Paihia that was erected as a memorial to Williams and his family in 1925.  Then this afternoon, we visited the first Anglican church in New Zealand begun by Williams in Russell – all quite informative and educational.  We enjoy reading the headstones in the churchyards and visiting the sanctuaries, places of calm and serenity.

Interior of the Anglican Williams Memorial Church in Paihia -- note the basalt walls.

The weather has been very pleasant since our arrival; we saw a great deal  of the sun today, so I am presently annoyed with facial sunburn …. sigh —  I don’t like glowing like a neon sign and hope the color will subside very soon.

Gerry had fish and chips for dinner this evening, probably the best fish and chips he’s ever had, he says.  His fabled red-orange pack came apart at one seam today, however, so we have plans to hit the local fabric shop tomorrow before our departure for points further north to purchase some heavy duty thread.  We’ll keep you posted on developments in that arena, to be sure ….

Wednesday’s Wanderings

Hard to believe that it can take nine entire hours to travel about 75 miles, but that’s the story for today.  It’s true that several geologically important stops were on the docket as we drove from Paihia to Kaitaia, but I’m amazed none-the-less that the day passed so swiftly.

The driving-on-the-left business seems to be more and more manageable for Gerry; the biggest challenge occurs upon entering an intersection … the established patterns are much more likely to crop up in that situation than when we’re part of the flow of traffic.  Interestingly, not only are the steering wheel and driving-side-of-the-road turned around for us, but the signal light and the windshield wiper levers are reversed as well.  It’s still common that when we approach a turn, the wipers suddenly surprise us both, but it is gradually becoming a less frequent occurrence … : ) .  I know it would be much less humorous for me if I was the one behind the wheel, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.

The drive along the Northeast Coast was very picturesque and quite beautiful as we had another bright sunny day.

Vibrant flowers we enjoyed on one of our hikes.

Following the NZ Geol. Survey field guide, we scoped out a couple of quarries, a beachfront pillow basalt outcrop, and a large former lake bed.  Non-geological stops included Rewa’s Village (a replica of a pre-European Maori fishing village) in Kerikeri and a hike to a Pa, a Maori hilltop fortress near Mangonui.

We are glad to once again have wireless access at our hotel tonight – hope you enjoy catching up with our wanderings …. Blessings!


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5 Responses to Northland Adventures

  1. Looks like you had a fun look at the country other tourists don’t see. Are you planning on trying one of the hamburgers with pickled beets on it?

  2. Craig Van Kooten says:

    I am so happy to here that the back pack can be repaired, what would happen if you needed to get a new one, in NZ no less. Small Blessings!

  3. Sally Tripp says:

    I’m following your every move! Thanks for the postings. It is good to see what Gerry is interested in. I can promise you a geologically rich environment when you come to see us. Banks Peninsula is a collection of ancient volcanoes.

  4. Crystal VK says:

    I, too, was saddened to hear about the pack, but glad you can do repairs.

  5. Kara VK says:

    Crys, wouldn’t it be great if there was a western caribbean geological survey field guide that we could use to plan our vacation in keeping with the family tradition? 🙂 I only say that because of I’m so jealous of all the New Zealand fun that is going on without me. Here’s hoping the infamous pack makes it through the whole adventure in one piece!

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