It started to rain – no, I mean pour – before dawn this morning in Russell. In a campervan, the roar was a bit louder than an home. ;-) We were scheduled for a 9 am cruise in the Bay of Islands and I was not looking forward to a wet or confined to the cabin cruise. We headed down to the harbour at 8:30 and at least the rain had stopped. By the time we were out on the water, the sun was coming out. At home a rain like that sits for days. We’ve been here this full month and I still have a knee jerk reaction to think as I would at home. The weather changes on a dime here. And I am glad for it!
The cruise was a simple one through the Bay of Islands and out the the Hole in the Rock out at the Pacific Ocean. The pictures looks similar to those we’ve taken before, but try to take a closer look. Yes there is land over there across the water, but there are layers upon layers of land. It was hard to capture.We did stop to enjoy some bottlenose dolphins. There were about 15 – including this baby - out in the bay feeding on all that lived on a nearby coral shelf. They do jump about just like SeaWorld! And here’s where we passed through Hole in the Rock. From Russell, we headed over to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on the 6 February 1840 between the British and the Maori to give the British control of New Zealand. The grounds then house a great deal of Maori and European historical artifacts. The European is what one would expect to see in any early 1800s settlement. What was different of course was the Maori artifacts. Here is the 35 meter long Maori waka (war canoe) Ngatokimatawhaorua. This canoe needs at least 76 paddlers to move through the water with any stability. This one was made for the 1940 Centennial Celebrations and was actually launched at that time. It was made from 3 massive Kauri trees from the Puketi forest – ones that were likely at least 1000 years old. Two of the trees were for the hull of the canoe and the third for the carvings on the sides. Here’s the stump from one of the trees.Classes, tours and other special events were offered. We stayed around and took a workshop in weaving the flax. Here is a flower I was in the process of making. The class was held on a bank of the beach next to eh war canoes. At one point, I was able to comprehend just a bit. Here we are in New Zealand, on the Waitangi treaty Grounds, relaxing near the beach looking out at the Bay of Islands, learning how to work with flax that we harvested from the plants behind us, listening to the surf lap on the shore and the Tui makes its R2D2 calls in trees. How more Kiwi can one get??? Kerikeri was our stop for the night. Here are the Rainbow Falls there. That night, we took at night tour in the Puteki Forest (where the kauri were taken for the canoe). We did hear the Morepork owl calling, but heard no kiwi. We did see the kauri snail completely stretched out from the shell. The night was beautiful and our guide, Ian, was most patient and accommodating. He’s with http://www.forestwalks.com/ if you want to check out his blog. I think my favorite part was coming back out of the forest and taking time to stand in the middle of field to just look at the starts. There is no light pollution here and the moon was not up. There were start in Orion I have never seen before and the Milky Way was truly clouding up the sky.
For more pics, try these:http://picasaweb.google.com/jjpeavey2/20100111JRP?feat=directlink