Kauri trees and an unforgettable coast line
01.11.2008 - 01.12.2008 68 °F
After leaving the bay of Islands, and not really falling in love with either Auckland or Pakiri beach, we were starting to wonder “Why all the fuss about New Zealand, and it’s beauty?” We had heard it was just about the prettiest place on earth, and even the Aussies who have quite the rivalry with the Kiwis told us this. We didn’t get it. We drove from the bay of Islands and ventured out on the typical roads we were becoming accustomed to; winding and tight. We stopped in a little town that was obviously not doing too well from an employment and commerce perspective to hit the grocery store and we found a nice but abused skate park, where it seemed most of the Maori (the town was nearly 100% Maori) kids hung out. This was a pretty sketchy place and contributed to our “why all the fuss” thinking. After saying goodbye to the local boys in the skatepark. We drove just about 15km further and GULP… it happened. It was like having your first “real Guinness” in Ireland after hearing about it forever and maybe even tasting it from afar, which is never quite the same. Here was the New Zealand we had been hearing all about, and it was gorgeous. We rounded a bend and saw a lake that was the most uncommon aqua blue you could imagine. It was almost surreal as a surfer carved turns behind a little outboard as he was towed. Another bend and we saw a huge sand mountain behind the lake and then one more bend, and we saw the mouth of the lake as it entered the sea… Nope this wasn’t a lake at all, it was Hokianga Harbor and it ran right to the Tasman Sea. It was spectacular and we stopped at a scenic look out and hiked a bit just to drink it all in, watching the tide overtake the Harbor as it rose.
We were treated with views like this all the way down to the Kauri forest which was equally stunning and featured some of the largest trees on earth, dating back a thousand or so years. Very few remain, having fallen victim to man’s appetite for all things wood. The forest was unbelievable, considering it was right next to the road, and we hiked in just a few minutes to find one of the largest remaining Kauri trees in the world. It’s size was stunning and it is the “best tree-house tree ever conceived” according to Carol, and it’s impossible to argue with that, with the exception of that fake Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland. Check this thing out. Parker took a picture of another as it towered over the forest.
From here we drove about an hour to our next camp site on Baylys beach which was simply beautiful, and sat atop one of the longest and flattest beaches we’ve ever seen. We checked the surf out from near our camp site and had to take a closer look. You could actually see cars on the beach checking out the surf, (it is completely legal to drive on the beach). In spite of Carol’s pleading with me (really telling more than pleading) to NOT take the motor home onto the beach, and commit an environmental sin, I did anyway, just so I could take this picture. But it was so cool driving on a beach, even just for a minute. I am a bad environmentalist.