maandag 30 november 2009

Majestic Forest Giants (Majestueuse Woudreuzen)

It’s November 29th. 2009 and we have rather nice weather.
Being on a holiday requires good weather and although we started this morning with rain (in a place called Red Beach on the West Coast of the North Island) the rain stopped somewhere during the morning and since than it is nice and warm.

So we left Red Beach (didn’t see any beach because it started raining just after we left the boat from Tiri Tiri Mangati and the rain stopped as I wrote, somewhere during the trip in the morning) and went up north.

This day was all about the Kauri.
The Kauri is one of the most well known native trees of New Zealand and probably the oldest living here.
If the New Zealanders wouldn’t have had the Kiwi, they would have chosen the name Kauri’s for their rugby team (or maybe another name, I don’t know of course).

In the morning we stopped at a place called Matakohe.
Tomorrow I won’t remember the name anymore; it’s every day the same.
In Matakohe there is the Kauri Museum.
Our guide tells us that this museum is one of the “Must See” exhibitions of New Zealand and so we went visiting it.

The museum provides “a stimulating insight into the Kauri theme”.
As I wrote before every village and town has at least one museum so there are lots of museums in New Zealand and every one is awesome, stimulating, magnificent, breathtaking, beautiful, very cool, enthralling, superb and so but about these later on.
This one is “stimulating”.

What do you see:
All kinds of old photographs of men cutting down Kauri trees,
transporting parts of Kauri trees, etc.
You must know that Kauri wood has been used by the settlers and boat builders** and house builders since the islands were discovered by Captain Cook, and remained to do so till almost no Kauri tree was left standing in the woods.

There is, as far as we know, only one forest (Waipoua Forest) in which a few large Kauri trees still stand.

** The boat building business was the most killing for the Kauri trees
because its wood could be very well used for building wooden ships.
So a large part of the English fleet at that time was built from English
oak (there is almost no oak tree left in England more than a 100 years
old) and New Zealand Kauri wood. And, as we all know, the English
fleet was very big around 1800. As a matter of fact the English fleet
was the largest and the mightiest at that time.

In this Kauri museum you can see furthermore:
- all kinds of things made of Kauri wood like cupboards, utensils, statues,
pots, children’s toys, war clubs (Maori), etc.
- all kind of things made of Kauri gum (Kauri gum - or amber - is the
fluid which flows out of the tree when branches break off and hardens).
The Kauri tree is millions of years old (our guide tells us and so they
found amber/Kauri gum of million years ago and since the gum was
used for lots of purposes, there was a lot of “gum digging” around 1800,
again photographed around that time and with many, many dug up large
and small pieces of gum,
- china and earthenware from around the tree felling and gum digging
period (what else have they got?),
- books of those times, murals, tables, wine barrels (of Kauri wood of
course), stairs of Kauri wood, photographs of Kauri built racing yachts,
- the inevitable blacksmith’s workshop with tools (of course) with
lifelike models and realistic scenes,
- a quality six room (?) of a 1900 home, fully furnished with original
decor, dressed models giving “a fascinating insight”!!!,
- an original school giving a glimpse of early education in New Zealand,
complete with desks, pens, maps, books again, etc.
- “Magnificent” timber panels (Kauri wood), carvings, horse racing
- souvenir shop with beautiful Kauri souvenirs, books (again), postcards,
clocks (didn’t see any), Kauri gum jewelry, etc. and caps, hats, shawls,
mittens, gloves, sweaters, socks, etc. made of merino, alpaca and
possum wool,
- the old post office with realistic models, old equipment and old
- the Pioneer Church built in 1867,
- the cemetery,
- and much, much more.

After lunch near a very big rock ( the name I forgot already) we went to visit Waipoua Forest because of the biggest Kauri trees left in New Zealand.
And, I must admit, the biggest one (Tane Mahuta which means something like “old father” in Maori), was very big. Our guide tells us that the tree is probably 2000 years old and that is old, I can tell you readers.

After these exciting undertakings we landed in Opononi, a small village on the west coast of the North Island. We have a nice place on the camping ground and I think we will walk the beach after dinner.
We just had some cheese and some drinks and Ankie is now preparing dinner.
Since I did my chores this morning (taking in fresh water and dumping the grey water and the garbage) I don’t have to do anything anymore today.
When you read this, it’ll be Monday because today there is no internet.
I hope tomorrow we’ll find a place with wireless.

All is well and the holiday is very nice till now.
Nothing about sheep because we almost saw none today.

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