Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Giants on the Earth

Hokianga Harbor
Spent far too much time driving yesterday, and probably will again today. Picked up a takeaway corned silver and sweet jalapeno jelly sandwich and a couple of Frank fruit drinks at the nearby bakery, fueled up the rental car, and headed up the road to the Waipoua Forest. Rural drive through rolling hills, fields of cattle and sheep, for the most part.

Stopped at Hokianga Harbor for a flat white and to get out of the car for a little bit to take some pictures. Amazing deep harbor that goes so far inland, I thought when we first encountered it that it was a lake, and had Michele searching the map for a lake to get our bearings. Quite windy there.

Tane Mahuta
Onwards to the forest. The road in was a fantastically twisty bit of tarmac, the kind that made me wish for a motorbike to test upon it, and we ascended into the coastal mountains rapidly. The first of the ancient Kauri trees one encounters is Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest, and it is so big it's hard to get perspective. I took several pictures, but none of them captures its true stunning mass. There are entire ecosystems living high in its branches. It's been alive since the time of Christ. The only things I could think of to compare its size to were a Greyhound bus and a 777 airliner, but even those don't do it justice.

We went on a forest walk to see a number of other examples of these trees, logged nearly to extinction in the 1800s, and saw the Four Sisters, as well as Te Matua Ngahere, Lord of the Forest, 16 metres around at the base! At one of our stops, we met a great couple from Southern New Zealand, and chatted with them for a while about our travels; they've spent time in the United States traveling, then ran into them again at the Four Sisters, and ended up keeping  each other company for the remainder of our visit, kindred spirits awed by the splendor and majesty of these mighty forest giants.

Near one of the "small" kauri
Ate our lunch in the car in a crazy hailstorm, headed back home around 2. Stopped for a few more photo ops along the way, and picked up some fresh Hokianga flounder to fry up for dinner. It was white, flaky, and delicately flavored, moist enough to eat with merely a squeeze of lemon.

Driving back to Auckland today for the wedding this weekend.

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