Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sailing and Storms

Having got off the ferry on Saturday evening we continued our quick trek up the North Island, pausing on Sunday morning at Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre - in particular the kiwi house. Unlucky at our attempts to spot these creatures in the wild we couldn't leave New Zealand without seeing one. The kiwi house is kept dark as kiwis are nocturnal (hence the red photo) and the two adult kiwis there were constantly on the move both hunting for grubs and having a bit of a fight with each other, much to the amusement of the watching visitors. They're hoping these two will become a breeding pair, but I think there's a way to go yet! The centre is also part of operation nest egg. Kiwi chicks currently have incredibly low chances of survival in the wild, part of the reason they're so rare, so various wildlife trusts are involved in finding eggs near to hatching and taking them for incubation (kiwis aren't particularly paternal which is part of the problem). They then raise the chicks through the first 6 months and release them back into the wild hopefully giving them a much better chance at life. Mt Bruce had one 27 week old chick in care at that point; a very cute pile of fuzz.

The last stages of our run north included popping back in to see Alastair (Suzie was away) where we both donated the remains of our tent to whatever cause they'd have, and got to sample the Brie Joe had left in a cool damp corner several weeks earlier. We were incredibly amazed to find that it looked smelt and tasted like a moderately ripe Brie; a real success! Finally we got to the reason for our dash to the north. When our tent broke we decided to treat ourselves to our last few weeks in a camper for a much more luxurious touring experience. We'd spent a fair portion of our time on the road discussing that that was surely the way to travel and maybe we should try it sometime and here was a ready made excuse. Unfortunately our hire car company were insistant that our 4x4 must be returned to Auckland and only Auckland - so to Auckland we went.

We spent a fair portion of Tuesday first collecting our campervan and then dropping off our car. When booking our camper we'd been looking at the larger 2 birth vehicles but it was pointed out to us that the smallest 4 birth were a very similar price so we happily booked one of those - we were going to be in it for a while after all. When we arrived they gave us a 6 birth and it's a beast! Wonderfully comfortable when we've chosen our camping spot for the night and with an over the cab bed that's nice and roomy and we can leave set up all the time, but not an agile vehicle for travelling in and particularly not for parking! Joe is getting to grips with it now and we are loving the extra space though.

Having done our vehicle swap we headed into Northland - the area north of Auckland - well known for its Mauri culture and interesting coastline. Unfortunately we saw little of the west coast as we drove up due to rather poor visibility and a storm that woke us up early on Wednesday morning, knocked out the power to the campsite and continued to rumble on for a good portion of the morning. Having stayed the night on the west coast we then took a fairly quick route over to Kerikeri on the east coast - not least because that's where mechanics connected to the campervan company were and we left the van with them for a couple of hours so that they could replace a missing valve on the waste water pipe and stop it piddling everywhere.

Having acheived so much distance over the last few days we then spent the second half of the week around the Bay of Islands, which is as it sounds; a stunning section of coastline covered in lots of islands. We found a lovely campsite on the waterfront near Haruru Falls and relaxed there in the sun that finally came, watching the birdlife come and go. We walked along the river edge as far as Waitangi and the Treaty House there and had a very pleasant day indeed.

The highlight of the week though came on Friday. The best way to see the Bay of Islands is naturally by boat but we weren't overly tempted by the tourist laden motor boats that would take you out to visit a particular feature of the coastline. Imagine our delight therefore when we discovered that for a similar cost we could have a day learning to sail with just us and our instructor on a 20ft yacht. We had a really good day out on the water, though were rather sore at the end of it. The best bit was when a pod of dolphins came by to say hello and swam with the boat for a few minutes - I don't think we could have asked for more.

p.s. We appreciate all your comments - sorry we don't have enough internet to be able to respond!


  1. Oh goodness me....I thought the kiwi was a hedgehog at first!!How wonderful to see one.
    I love the buzzard type bird and adored the dolphins. How lovely to spend a day sailing and get to go on the road in a camper van, I wanted to hire a camper when we were in Oz but hubs refused to drive

  2. Nawwwww, I want a kiwi! Yay for camper vans!

  3. Such a sweet little critter. Safe travels!


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