Today was moving day. We were headed from our home in Cable Bay to a farm in the Whecki Valley where we would spend the next four nights before my parents arrive. We packed up the car and headed off, planning to stop at the Kauri forests on the West coast along the way. They were a bit out of the way, but the Kauri trees are said to rival the Redwoods which we (especially Lynn) loved and we had nothing else to do today so off we went.
Our friend Google, though I’m sure he (or she) meant well, directed us on the fastest route which turned out to include an hour of driving down a single lane gravel road, with two way timber hauling traffic on it. Poor Lynn did very well and really put Babs through her paces as we rounded blind corners and skidded off the road from time to time to avoid the logging trucks coming head on that seemed to treat the 100 kmh speed limit as a challenge (we have no idea why it was that high, we felt much more comfortable with a nice, safe 40 kmh). I would like to be able to say that at least we saw some beautiful countryside but alas all we really saw were hillsides stripped of trees and the plumes of dust that warned us of incoming trucks.
After enough time for me to develop a stress headache and both of us to get a bit carsick going around the twisty roads we finally turned onto a paved highway again. Having survived our ordeal we both took a note to write Google a strongly worded letter about their route recommendations in New Zealand when we had cell phone signal again.
As we approached the Kauri forest Google once again tried to send us off down a gravel road. Not this time! We abandoned our route and I manually navigated us along paved roads the rest of the way to the visitor center. We arrived shortly after and told the attendant we wanted to see the big trees. She took us over to a map on the wall and pointed them out to us, about a 15 minute drive north. We also had the opportunity to buy a poorly photocopied version of the map but we chose to go on our own.
After a very dissatisfying lunch of roast beef, cheddar wraps, again, we headed up to the trees. The Kauris have been affected recently by something called Kauri Dieback Disease caused by invasive bacteria in the soil. To do our part to be Kauri Strong (their catchy name for stopping it) we had to scrub our boots and spray them down with a disinfectant before heading down the trail. We made our way through the temperate rain forest, admiring the dense foliage and the myriad of parasitic plants growing on them. In the middle of the forest we came upon the largest trees in New Zealand, including the absolute largest, who at 2000 years old is aptly named the Lord of the Forest and who is fabled to have created the Earth by tearing apart his two parents. The trees were quite large but nowhere near the magnificence of the redwoods.
Done with our large trees we headed home towards our new Airbnb. Surprisingly, New Zealand has the worst cell phone coverage of any country we have been to yet so we had to wing it and rely on the old fashioned way of reading street numbers as we flew by at 100 kmh. We only missed it once before we pulled up the gravel driveway and met our lovely hosts Nick (a middle school teacher), Angie (a German – by birth, not occupation), and puppy Shady who we have nicknamed Wiggles. After a quick tour of the hobby farm’s extensive vegetable garden, budding orchard, and populated cow pasture we sat down to a fantastic dinner with our hosts. Homebrewed beer, salad, roast potatoes and kumara, and venison meatballs and sausage stewed with tomatoes and peppers.
After dinner we went for a stroll around the farm, getting to know the cows and chickens and finding a newborn calf separated from its mom by a fence. That didn’t seem right and we had no idea how protective mother cows are…possibly like bears? We decided to not risk it and headed back to let our hosts know they had a calf situation. They headed off to resolve it and helped reunite baby and mother before coming back serving us a dessert of homemade pineapple/carrot cake and apricot ice cream. Fully stuffed on delicious homemade food, we collapsed on the couch to watch the news, which featured a surprising amount of American news, before calling it a night.
Daily Walking Mileage : 5.8 miles
- Kauri trees were used to make war canoes by stripping bark on one side and letting the weather rot out the center
- There seem to be an abnormally large number of gravel roads and one lane bridges throughout New Zealand which makes us really wish they would invest more in their infrastructure.
- Our hosts had rescued 5 of someone else’s cows from the road earlier and apparently one of them was pregnant. They were totally unaware of the calf’s existence until we had come across it so it had only been born one or two days previously.
- In both New Zealand and Australia they refer to linens and towels as Manchester because originally it was all shipped over from the cotton mills in Manchester, England and the crates were stamped with Manchester on the side of them. We learned this from a comedian on Live at the Apollo.