maandag 30 november 2009

The Watiki Glow-worm Caves

This is a picture of the rocks in which the glow-worm caves are situated.
You can see the rocks in the middle/top of the picture.
The animals in the middle are cows and we didn't see any sheep today.
Lots of sheep farmers have cows now because they can earn more with cows.

Saint Michael's Anglican Church

This is the church which was built on the spot where the English were slain by the maori's in 1845.

The famous toilet of Hundertwasser in Kawakawa

This is the front of the colourful toilet of the famous artist Hundertwasser in Kawakawa.

Look at the roof (Hundertwasser was a ecologist as well) and the people of the city of Kawakawa remember him well, beacause he planted thousands of trees but...........the people don't like the trees because they are pinetrees and they have lots of those already.

Hundertwasser and the Kawiti Glow-worm Caves

Today is December 1st 2009 and we are still on the North Island of New Zealand.
Like the last days the day began with a few drops of rain. After that it became less and less clierwdy and the rest of the day was rather sunny and warm.

To have something to do we first went to a city called Kawakawa.
Not too far from Paihia.
Kawakawa is famous throughout the North Island because of the fact that a rather famous Austrian artist (his name was Hundertwasser) lived in Kawakawa for a long time and got the order from the town council to design the city toilet.
Large signs on the side of the road announce the toilet of Hundertwasser.

So we visited that toilet and Ankie even went inside and she told me that the toilet was clean.
Two years ago Ankie and I visited an exhibition of Hundertwasser in our famous and well known city (or village) Valkenburg in Limburg.
So we were of course very excited that we could visit the town where Hundertwasser built a very luxurious outhouse/bathroom/toilet/loo.

On the other side of the street we visited the Hundertwasser Museum which showed lots of copies of paintings of the painter and lots of photographs of the guy, together with all sorts of other people.
In this museum they showed also all the stuff the older people of the town of Kawakawa donated to the museum and so it just looked like all the other town and village museums which show:
- old photographs,
- old chairs,
- old kitchen utensils (like form 50 years back, they think it is really old),
- old books (millions of them),
- old telephones,
- old pots and pans and china and earthenware household things,
- old toys,
- old other things.

In the museum I found the copy of the report of an eyewitness of the battle of Ohaeawai in 1845, 1st of July. The eyewitness was a medical doctor who travelled around and was just there when the battle raged.
Funny to read what happened exactly during the days around the battle.

The second experience of this day was our visit to the Kawiti Glow-worm Caves of Kawiti.
The caves were discovered by a Maori tribe and one of the attendants we were told is a member of the mentioned tribe.
The caves are not very large but “impressive”. Beautiful massive pillars of pure white stalactites, stalagmites galore.
In the caves you can see millions of glow-worms (Arachnocampa Luminosa) and with the Maori name of Pura Toke (So that you know this as well).
This transparent larva of the Fungus Gnat, which has a life cycle of about eleven months, from the egg to the adult fly, aluminates the caves (a little).
The glow-worm grows from 2 mm to 40 mm long. It is as thin as a needle with a blue/green taillight.
It lives of mosquitoes, flies, moths which are attracted by the light and are caught in small chainlike webs the worms grow.

Our tour guide told us these glow-worms only live in caves in New Zealand and Australia.
The visit to these caves was really nice.

We are now camping in the city of Whangarei and we have internet so, we’ll do some updates now.
All is well in New Zealand and till the next time.

The Ngawa Hot Springs

Aone is more grey.

Another tub of the Ngawa Hot Springs and the colour of this tub is almost black where the other is more grey-like. The water in both tubs is warm and if you wanted to, you can sit in them. We didn't dare because everything looked very dirty and since we are healthy (we think) we wanted it to stay that way.

Ngawa hot springs tub

One of the about ten "tubs" of the Ngawa Hot Springs near the village of (you guessed already) Ngawa.

It looks very exciting (and superb) when you click on the arrow of the video. You can see the hot water bubbling. Maybe you have to click twice.

Opononi, Paihia and Ngawa

Today is the last day of November 2009 (Monday 30th.)

Today we drove from Opononi to a place called Paihia. The weather this morning was not very promising (there were lots of clierwds) but, as the last days, the farther we got the better got the weather.
Sitting now in the van, the weather is very nice, the sun shines and the temperature is good, it’s nice and warm.

The journey was uneventful apart from two very interesting visits we made.
After breakfast we left Opononi and drove to Ngawa Hot Springs.
Our tour guide tells us these springs are a thing that can’t be missed, so we went totally for these hot springs.
And, of course there were other people as well (there was a bus full of youngsters/students) to visit this magnificent landmark on the North Island of New Zealand.

We went in and we saw about ten square pools of 3 x 3 meters in which you can sit and enjoy the hot or warm water.
We didn’t go in because the place looked like a dump with foul water pools but, somewhere in a corner a woman was enjoying the warm water.
As a souvenir of this awesome place I made a few small video’s.
We’ll always remember Ngawa Hot Springs!!

After another hour or so we bought the necessary groceries for today and after that we came along another landmark, Te Whare Karakia O Mikaera,
Saint Michael’s Anglican Church of 1871, built on the site of Pene Taui’s Pa (Pa means stronghold), at which was fought the Battle of Ohaeawai, July 1st. 1845.
The battle was fought between the English (who lost) and the resisting Maori’s.

Since there is not much else to tell I’ll inform you about this battle.

During Heke’s war (the English trying to put another gem* in the British crown, the gem being the North Island of nowadays New Zealand) the British troops under colonel H. Despard suffered very heavy casualties in their assault on Pene Taui’s Pa at Ohaeawai.
The assault was a follow up action after two earlier engagements between the English and Hone Heke and Kawiti (Maori chiefs and their warriors) in which the English couldn’t defeat the Maori’s.
The Maori’s had withdrawn to the place where the church later was built being a heavy stronghold with three rows of palisade’s, a deep trench and other earthworks (the architect of the stronghold being the Maori Kawiti). Amongst the stronghold were heavy timbered hidden rifle pits and in all the stronghold would prove to be impregnable to artillery and musket fire.

The force of the British consisted of 565 men amongst which Maori allies, blue jacks of the HMS Hazard and men of two English regiments together with Auckland volunteers.
They had two 6 pounder brass guns and two 12 pounder carronades from a man of war called HMS Hazard. The force was disembarked from the ship on June 23rd. and the colonel marched up to the Maori stronghold and camped about 500 meters down from it.

On June 24th. the first gunshot was fired and although the four guns kept up a barrage the whole day, the shots had no real effect on the stronghold and the colonel ordered a heavier gun (a 32 pounder) from the ship.
This gun arrived on June 30th. in the morning and right away the 32 pounder opened fire together with the 4 lighter pieces of artillery.

During the bombardment a Maori sortie slipped out of the Pa and circling through the forest surprised the Maori allies and the British piquet protecting a 6 pounder gun on a nearby hill.
The Maori’s shot one soldier, seized the 6 pounder and hauled down the flag of the English there on the hill.

Colonels Despards embarrassment turned into fury when he saw the captured British ensign run up on the Pa’s flagstaff and he determined to storm the Pa the same day.

Colonel Despard imagined that four shot - apparently the soldiers brought only four shot from the ship - of the 32 pounder would have loosened the timber palisades sufficiently to enable his troops to storm the stronghold with success and bring down the Maori force.
Remonstrations of his fellow officers against such a useless attack failed to move the obstinate colonel.
He ordered a storming party to parade directly after the bombardment in the afternoon of the 1st. of July and the troops given a midday meal which for many of the troops was their last.

The troops formed up in the valley beyond the Pa about 100 meters from the stronghold. Now came the awful interval of waiting between bombardment and storming the Pa, the parties taking their appointed places while the rear of them still were throwing shot and shell into the Pa.
Than out blared the bugle “advance”.
There as a quick fire of commandments of the column officers and the troops dashed over the ferny slopes towards the Pa.
The troops were within 50 yards of the palisades and the defenders opened fire. It was a one sided fight.
Gun flashes spurted from the base of the stronghold and from loopholes higher up, with gun smoke hiding the palisades and the attackers stopped deadly in their tracks.
Not a single Maori could be seen since they were safely hidden in their trenches between their strong palisades. And although English troops managed to reach the palisades they were not able to break through.
The Maori fire completely commanded the angle which was the centre of the attack and the Maori gun (the seized 6 pounder) killed and maimed many of the attackers.
Through the din of yelling and musketry the notes of the bugle were heard: “retire” and many British soldiers were gunned down in the withdrawal by Maori fire.
The whole action took only five minutes and within that time more than 40 English soldiers lost their lives and more than 100 were wounded, some mortally and others maimed for life. Almost one third of the English force was out of action in those few minutes.
Many a deed of gallantry and devotion illumined the tragedy of that retreat, several men returned through hot fire to carry off wounded comrades.

The total of Maori losses are not known but couldn’t have exceeded ten killed.

After this defeat the English remained camped near the Pa, keeping up a intermittent bombardment during 10 days with the 32 pounder and the other lighter guns, for which new shot was hauled from the ship.

It was Maori custom to leave a Pa when blood was spilled and after the ten day bombardment, when the English dared another attack, the Maori force had withdrawn during one of the nights after the battle.

In January 1846 there was a last decisive battle where the remaining Maori’s lost their independence to the English.

If you like this story I can make others up. There still is Gallipoli, Balaclava, Modderspruyt, Dunkerque, the Boxers of Peking, Trafalgar, etc.

After this bloodbath of 150 years ago (somewhat totally different from bathing in hot springs) we are now at Paihia.

Tomorrow we will go south again, direction Auckland.

The largest Kauri tree ever

You just saw Ankie standing for the largest (left) Kauri tree here in New Zealnd.
This is an old photgraph of an old man standing in front of a large Kauri tree, about a hundred years ago.
That was a big one but, alas, not here anymore.

The biggest Kauri tree in New Zealand

Here you can see Ankie near the biggest Kauri tree in New Zealand called "Tane Mahuta" which means in Maori "Old Father".
The tree is more than 50 meters high, but you can't see that because I couldn't back up more because of other large trees around the largest one.

Majestic Forest Giants (Majestueuse Woudreuzen)

This day we visited Waipua forest because of the largest Kauri trees to be found on the North Island.

Look at the large trunk of the tree!!

As I wrote we had lunch near a big piece of stone called Maungaraho Rock Scenic Reserve.

You can see how big the rock is, compared to our campervan.

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.

Tiri Tiri Matangi

Today is Saturday, 28th November 2009.
Yesterday we camped on the seaside near an Island called Tiri Tiri Matangi. It was not a camping (just on the side of the road near the harbour) and we didn’t have to pay to stay overnight. There was water so we had everything we needed.
The reason why here was that we wanted to visit this island because there are very beautiful birds over there, but first I’ll write about our experiences on Friday 27th.

Since we are going north on the North island of New Zealand we passed a bay in which lies the Cathedral Cove. This cove is well known around here because there is a kind of big and rocky arch on the beach which looks like a cathedral and you guessed that already.
The weather was nice and warm and we took the hike to this beach and it was fun because of the good weather and the sandy beaches.
There were big signs next to the arch to be very careful because a part of it caved in lately. But we walked under it and nothing happened.

I must say that the country here is beautiful. Around - almost – every corner you can see something different and driving around here is nice. There are mountains, streams, beautiful forests, rocky coasts and white and black beaches, birds, cows and of course sheep although there are more sheep on the South Island and you knew that already as well.

I wrote a few times that the South Island seems to have much more sheep than here on the North Island.
Ankie read somewhere that there are 22 different kinds of sheep.
I can’t remember them all but here we go:
- black sheep,
- white sheep,
- black and white sheep,
- Merino sheep (the wool is very soft),
- dead sheep,
- live ones,
- small ones (lambs they call ‘m over here),
- big ones (they are called sheep),
- flat sheep,
- cooked sheep,
- steamed sheep,
- boiled sheep,
- grilled sheep,
- burned sheep (you don’t see these very much),
- and others of which I don’t now the names anymore.

For people who love sheep, New Zealand must be heaven (really).

There are lots of Possums too. The “Opossum” is a pest here in New Zealand and - if you wanted to - you could buy a gun and shoot as much possums as you can and they would love you for it.
There are two kinds of possums:
- flat and dead ones (you can see these on every road),
- live ones (you usually see these only at night).

Wildlife in New Zealand is very exciting and there are lots of other animals in New Zealand like:
- deer,
- cats (sometimes flat),
- cows,
- dogs,
- rats,
- mice,
- Alpaca’s (the wool of Alpaca’s is very soft and THE thing to buy here
in New Zealand is something of Alpaca wool in combination with
Merino wool and/or possum hair/wool. This is very soft material and of
course really expensive. I can understand this very well. Imagine you
have to drive along lots of roads, find the flat possums, skin them, mix
their hair with Merino and Alpaca wool and weave it into what you
want like:
- caps,
- sweaters,
- shawls,
- socks,
- etc.

We saw also a few Llama’s.
Ankie saw a shop with the name “Chipmunks” so they probably have those here as well.

Today we went visiting Tiri Tiri Matangi Island.
In Maori language this means: “tossed by the wind”. Luckily there was not much wind, the temperature was OK and now and than we even had a little sun, when walking on the island.
We went by boat (the name of the boat is “Tiri Kat”) and it took about half an hour to get to the island.
It is a bird sanctuary and they have kiwi’s (the grey spotted kiwi and since they are night animals we didn’t see any of course), penguins (we found a dead one and Ankie made a picture of that bird because it was only the third penguin we have seen!! After two live ones on the South Island a few weeks ago) and they have other birds like:
- Whiteheads (we saw one),
- Kakariki (a green parakeet with a read head and I made a picture of two),
- Stitchbird (as far as I know we saw none and the Maori name is “hihi”),
- Takahe and when used to people it picks the food out of your backpack,
- and lots of other birds of which I don’t remember the names anymore.
It was a nice day on the island, we saw both sides of the island, we sat a few times on a beach here and there and we saw lots of native trees (brought back to the island after the old ones were cut down hundreds of
years ago by farmers, boat builders, etc.).

So today was a nice day and tomorrow we will be going north again.
About that I’ll tell more tomorrow or the day after.

Practically every village and town has a golf course.
If there are 5 houses in a row you can bet your ass that there is a golf course around.

We have been in traffic twice. Once when we got off the boat in Wellington (Friday evening around 5 o’clock in the afternoon) and yesterday (around three in the afternoon, passing Auckland up north).

The best meat we bought till now was porterhouse steak.
You can get sirloin steak too, but the porterhouse was nicer.
In general (I think) meat here is cheap and I know why; lot’s of cows and big steers around (and sheep).

Most houses in New Zealand are one story houses (only ground floor).
Most are built of wood with corrugated iron roofs.
Houses with two floors you don’t see often (maybe this has to do with:
- lots of building ground available,
- the possibility of an earthquake and a one floor house is more stable?
I don’t know.

You can buy a house in a packet (they are advertised everywhere).
We looked in to that (My wife’s third name is Aagje) and found out that you can buy a four bedroom house, with dining room and living room and all the garages and bathrooms and whatever, for lets say Euris 150.000,-- or 175.000,--. (this is apart from the land of course to build on).
And I think (apart from all kind of building regulations which apply in Holland) such a house in Holland would cost at least double the price.

Not many police around and (we think) not much crime.

Apparently a lot of New Zealanders are poor because lots of people don’t wear shoes or they don’t like ‘m.

Well this is it for today.
Tomorrow is another day.