After the beautiful sunset last night at our campsite in Rawene, we could see nothing this morning due to sea fog! Didn’t last long though, it cleared to a cloudy with sunny intervals day. It’s our anniversary today, 10 years, but Jackie says it’s not at home, so we’ve got to wait until tonight.
So, whilst waiting we set off along the coast road to the interesting Koutu Boulders. It’s a place that doesn’t feature in our Rough Guide or the special ‘Northland’s Hidden Places’ book we’ve got. Jackie found a little notice about it on the kitchen wall at the campsite and, as it was only 15 minutes away and on our route, we thought it’d be rude not to visit. It seems to be the North Island’s answer to the South Island’s ‘Moeraki Boulders’, which we visited with Pauline in February (our blog entry to it is: http://brianandjackiecross.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/moeraki-boulders-are-they-evidence-of.html), but a lot smaller. Moeraki Boulders featured in a book I’d read about Chinese discovering the world in the fifteenth century by Gavin Menzies, the boulders, he claimed, being concrete ballast from a Chinese junk that was thrown into the cliffs as a result of a tsunami caused by a meteorite crashing into the Pacific just off the South East cost of New Zealand.
|A yellowhammer (according to Tim Holden!)|
When we visited Moeraki it all seemed a bit improbable, so what did we think about the Koutu Boulders? They are very similar (being round!), look to be the same composition and, where some were broken and open to the inside, also looked the same. They were also scattered randomly across the beach. The problem here is that there are no cliffs, just sandy beach and dunes and it’s situated in the natural Hokianga harbour, which itself opens out onto the Tasman Sea. If there was a tsunami in the Pacific it would not have reached the Tasman Sea, but even if it did it couldn’t have got into the harbour, which is well protected from the sea. What do you have to say about that then Gavin Menzies? Probably nothing as I don’t expect he’ll read it!
|Jackie standing by Tane Mahuta|
Anyway, from there we headed inland a bit to visit Tane Mahuta, which is officially the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand, which as its native to New Zealand must mean ‘in the world’. The Kauri tree was logged unmercifully by Europeans is it produced excellent wood and gum, so today only a few remain. Tane Mahuta is judged to be about 2000 years old, has a girth of 13.8 metres, a trunk height of 17.7 metres, a total height of 51.5 metres and a trunk volume of 244.5 cubic metres. In Maori cosmology, Tane is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tane tore his parents apart, breaking their primal embrace, to bring light, space and air and allowing life to flourish. Tane is the life giver, all living creatures are his children.
|Tane Mahuta in all its glory|
|Jackie next to the 16.41 metre diameter Te Matua Ngahere|
A little further along the road is another path leading to the second largest Kauri tree (and another path leading to the seventh largest!), but talking to the warden (who is there to make sure no-one breaks into the parked cars), the second largest should be the number one as it’s bigger in diameter and is older, but because the top has broken off, it’s not as tall and therefore has a smaller wood volume, which is the method they use to rank them. This one is called Te Matua Ngahere, which means ‘Father of the forest’ and it certainly has a presence, having a girth of an incredible 16.41 metres, a trunk height of 10.21 metres, a total height of 29.9 metres and a trunk volume of 208.1 cubic metres. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as though Te Matua Ngahere is long for this world as its looking not in the best of health, having lost a big chunk off its top. The pictures just don’t show their massive presence, they are certainly very impressive, but they are not alone, the forest is full of really large Kauri trees and, other than the walkway constructed to stop us damaging the forest floor, is in its pristine native state. Fabulous!
Well, we’ve ended up at Dargerville, a reasonably sized town where we have internet access (a bit of a novelty these last few days!) and a town centre with a few restaurants. As it’s our anniversary we decided to go out for a meal (one of the only times we’ve done so in New Zealand because of the relatively high price of doing so). Jackie fancied an Indian Biriyani, but the Indian restaurant was licensed and the wine expensive, so we opted for the Thai restaurant round the corner called ‘Pad Thai’. It’s run by a Thai wife and New Zealand husband and, not only was the food very reasonably priced (about NZ$11.50 for a main course), it was fantastic! With no alcohol license they served complimentary Jasmine tea, which accompanied the meal very well. We are used to Jasmine tea with Chinese food when we’ve been into the Chinese Quarter in Birmingham UK with Ian and Helen and Manu and Crystal, leaving Crystal (who is from Hong Kong) to choose the restaurant and order in Chinese for us all, always selecting fabulous food that goes so well with the tea. Tonight, Crystal (and Ian, Helen and Manu), we thought of you!
We walked to the restaurant and, on the way home we fancied an ice cream so dropped into a supermarket. The cheapest ice creams worked out more expensive than a two litre tub of chocolate ice cream, so we bought it, took it back to our van, got two spoons and tucked in! No, we didn’t finish it, the rest is in the freezer.
Happy anniversary to my lovely wife, thank you for 10 great years!