Leaving the Coromandel Peninsula we headed for our last area of sightseeing. This region is called the Northland, because it is the northern most part of the country. This is the locale where the Maori were well established and where European settlers first came into contact with them.
Our first stop was on the Kauri Coast, so-called because of the kauri timber and gum industry that flourished there in the ninteenth century. Most of these massive and ancient trees are gone, but we were able to see a few magnificent examples. A short hike led us to Te Matua Ngahere (The Father of the Forest). This tree has a trunk over 50 feet in diameter, and could be the oldest in New Zealand (probably 2000 years old). We visited the Kauri Museum where we saw beautiful examples of how the kauri wood could be used. Also we saw the Gum Room, a weird and wonderful collection of kauri gum or resin, the amber substance that can be carved, sculpted and polished.
Continuing north we took a tour to the northern-most tip of the country. At the end of this peninsula is Cape Reinga with its lighthouse shining out over thousands of miles of ocean. The highlight of the tour is the drive down Ninety Mile Beach. The beach ‘road’ is only for the well prepared with rugged vehicles. Cars have hit soft sand and been swallowed by the tides. Of course, the tour guides stop at one of these. We wondered whether it had been placed there by the tour companies as a warning to keep tourists from trying to make the drive themselves! The other activity during this drive down the beach is to stop at some sand dunes and have the tourists toboggan down them on sleds. The hike to the top was a lot of work, though, and once was enough.
We then continued to our last sightseeing area – the Bay of Islands. Long famed for its stunning coastal scenery, the area is one of New Zealand’s major attractions. The area is also of enormous historical significance. As the site of the country’s first permanent English settlement, it is the birthplace of European colonization. It was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and first signed in 1840. The treaty remains the linchpin of race relation in New Zealand today. We decided to splurge for our last few days by taking an over-night cruise on the bay. We spent the night on the "Rock"; a former small car ferry fitted to house and sleep 35 people. We had a great time meeting new friends and being cared for by the owner and his crew. We spent the day cruising around and visiting islands, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and swimming. Needless to say, Purr especially loved this cruise!
We’re now back where we started – the Anahata Community. It is a good place to woof and get prepared to leave. We sold our car at a local car fair in Auckland, but unfortunately did not get as much as we had hoped. It was still well worth the cost since it took us everywhere we wanted with no problems. In a few days we will leave New Zealand and fly back to Hawaii to visit Amy and Eugene for a few weeks, returning to Becket the first week of May.
What a wonderful trip this has been. We hope that you, our family and friends, have enjoyed participating in our adventures with us. We’ll remember the places we’ve seen and the friends that we’ve made for the rest of our lives. Life is such an adventure and sharing it with the ones we love makes it all worthwhile!