Monday, 7 March 2011

Kiwi House and Heritage Museum -- March 7th

We set off this morning under blue skies (for a change) for Auckland, stopping at the Kiwi House and Heritage Museum just outside Whangarei on the SH14 at Maunu. Web site here Here there is a chance of seeing a live Kiwi in his darkened room.  However as the hidden cameras showed he was hiding in one of his burrows and did not want to come out to be seen. Still we saw a stuffed one and was surprised that they were so large, as all the ones we have seen in pictures have been about the size of bag of sugar and this one was rugby ball size. I wonder if that is why the all blacks are so good at rugby? What is also amazing at this museum is that they have a collection of buildings, some moved there on lorries (the chapel and school house) and one Homestead which stands on its original site.  As you can see from the photos it is all as it was left only a few years ago when the owner left it - as is - to the museum.  The wallpaper is amazing as well as the bedroom of the old Mr Clark.  There is also a museum section devoted to the native Kauri trees, which were huge when the settlers arrived. Very few that size survive now. One trunk is left rotting in the grounds and is only about 6 foot diameter. The one being felled by the bushmen is about 10 to 12 foot diameter and all done with hand tools as can be seen. Ann stands by a large Pine in the garden which was huge by today’s standards and probably planted by the original Mr Clark….. who, by the way, paid a local carpenter 720 GBP for him to build this house. The views from the front lawn without most of Whangarie in place would have been stunning. Photos here.
We then drove on to Auckland where we met up with Todd’s (Perth) Auntie Barbara for a coffee. The next few days are likely to be a bit hectic with our final garden visit, meeting Ellesmere College colleagues, Matt and Narelle, packing and repacking suitcases and dropping off the car ready to catch the plane to Fiji. It may be a day or two before the next posting, and if our beach hut in Fiji has no internet access it may have to wait until the USA 13th/14th March. 

Day trip to Reinga -- March 6th

Today I set off early to the top most part of the North Island and Ann walked into Whangarei to take in some culture. She managed to find a glass gallery, a clock museum and an art gallery. In total a walk of 8km as buses don’t run on Sundays. Those who have been taking note of past postings will have noticed that her twisted ankle is obviously now much better. I managed to clock up about 550 Km round trip, stating at 7.20ish. Breakfast was at Kaitaia at about 9.30 where I found this rugby sculpture, the “Dalmatian Club” and this tiled little house. On the way up I stuck to the SH1 and even that deteriorated to gravel at times as they try to “improve” it.  Some of the views are really stunning as you get near the Cape Reinga.  The vegetation gets smaller and sand appears as the winds and salt tend to prune everything that put its head up too high. I had to move over at one point to allow the mother of all campervans to come through a narrow section….. now that is luxury.
The one memory I will always have of this place is the waves where the Tasman sea crashes into the Pacific. A line of turbulence stretches out north for at least a couple of miles where huge breaking waves from the Tasman (from the left) crash into huge breaking waves from the Pacific (from the right). I would not like to be in a boat caught in that lot. This is probably why there is a light house here. Apart from some loos, that is all there is here.  No cup of tea or cakes here!  Only lots of other people taking photos of this phenomenon. On the way back I took the SH10 option to avoid the gravel roadworks and was rewarded with some stunning scenery on the east coast. Cable Bay and Mangonui, were particularly pretty places and had good beaches. Where the SH1 and 10 rejoin there is a little railway museum, but sadly not operating this day.  I got back about 5 and we set off to have a look at the local attraction of Whangarei Falls. Being pretty dead beat by now there was only one thing to do….. fall into the hot tub for half an hour, and then eat. So that is why this posting is late. Photos here

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