A Travellerspoint blog

February 2016

Kiwiland

semi-overcast 27 °C

Sandy Cathedral Cove and its verdant islands near the tiny community of Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula is a spectacular sight when glimpsed above a forest of lofty tree ferns…
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These native ferns reach 60 feet high and along with other exotic trees and plants make the cliff side hiking trail to the cove a botanist’s delight…
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When we told the guy at our resort in Whangamata that we intended visiting the cove he assured us that we would be snowed under with holidaymakers. After all this is the Waitangi Day long weekend – the last hoorah of summer. But here’s the beach…
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Maybe the hordes would be inside the cathedral-sized cave that gives the cove its name…
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Nope – not here either. Despite its proximity to Auckland this part of New Zealand has mile after mile of largely deserted golden beaches, but just when we thought it was safe to do a nudie we rounded a headland and found an army of people digging up the beach…
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But what were they searching for: clams, mussels, buried treasure – maybe granny’s false teeth?

A two night all expenses stay at the Pacific Resort in Whangamata (airfare not included) to the first person with the correct answer. And here’s another brainteaser – just how do the locals pronounce words beginning with ‘Wh….”
We are continuing with our foreign language lessons and now call fishermen fishos; avocados avos and shopping carts trundlers. However the word Kiwi can be confusing. It could mean a New Zealander, or it might be one of these…
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As we make our way around the north island we come across numerous small towns that remind us of home. For instance, the town of Katkati is adorned with dozens of murals depicting the town’s history similar to those in Chemainus on Vancouver Island…
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And today we visited the rural community of Te Puke and couldn’t see a thing behind the incredibly high hedges. We wondered what the natives were hiding until we found a gap and discovered that Te Puke is the kiwi capital of the world and the hedges protect the furry little critters from the coastal winds…
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Eighty percent of the world’s supply of this fruit is grown in the rich volcanic soils of north eastern New Zealand and here they are squeezed into everything from juice to wine, spirits, liqueurs and even chocolate bars and soap. This year’s kiwis won’t be ripe until April so we just had to try the kiwi wine – oh well; someone has to drink it.
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Posted by Hawkson 23:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (6)

This Topsy-Turvy World

semi-overcast 29 °C

Sufferers of jet-lag should probably avoid weeks like ours. In 4 days we have been in 5 countries, 4 time zones, 3 continents, both hemispheres and both sides of the International Date Line. So far we have travelled 17,000 kms and our walkabout has only just begun.

Everything is topsy-turvy in New Zealand and by the time you read this in Canada it is already tomorrow here; we are happily walking upside down and, despite the fact that it’s early February, the thermometer is hovering nicely in the high twenties. However, some of the locals in Auckland are wondering who stole the rest of their holiday season. Apparently December was a bust, but now it’s warm and wet and we are reaping the benefits – talk about green!
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…and the flowers!
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However, these agaphanthus flowers are actually interlopers - an invasive species brought here from South Africa by troops returning from the second Boer War..

It’s a holiday weekend here - Waitangi Day to be precise. This public holiday originally commemorated the historic treaty between the Maori chiefs and the Brits on February 6 1840, Not everyone was convinced that the event was worthy of celebration so in 1973 it was renamed New Zealand Day. Not everyone was happy with that either, so three years later it was changed back. But don’t come expecting patriotic bunting, fireworks, ”Happy Waitangi Day” cakes and barbecued kiwis on the beach. Most New Zealanders are simply content to have a day off. Any raucous gatherings of flag waving Kiwis this year are more likely to be protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership than celebrations of Waitangi Day. We, however, have left the city and joined the throngs on the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula at Whangamata…
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O.K. So, despite the 29 degree temperature, the wind and clouds kept folk in the bars.
But James was determined to have a go on a surfboard…
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The Coromandel Peninsula is a popular resort area and we were warned to expect crowds.
This is the main street of the town of Thames after midday on Saturday – market day. (And we thought our island home was quiet!)…
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The town of Thames has many quaint Victorian buildings that harken back to a bygone era…
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We’ve only been in New Zealand 24 hours and we’ve already picked up some of the language, i.e. toasty, (toasted sandwich); postie (post office or postman); nudie (not allowed in public); stubby (short beer bottle); and barbie (BBQ). We will certainly learn more as we travel the country but one thing we have learned is that the natives are friendly and they appear to love foreign visitors – we shall see!

Posted by Hawkson 23:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (8)

A Winter's Tale

sunny 11 °C

Our Christmas cake...
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Any Canadian dreaming of a white Christmas this year was probably disappointed when El Nino showed up and pushed the winter thermometers through the roof. However, the giant trees in our parched garden were happy with the soaking they got from the accompanying storms and the lighthouse looked radiant under a rainbow...
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The herrings were confused and showed up two months early, taking the sea lions and the fishermen by surprise. But this bald eagle can spot a meal miles away and was quickly on the scene...
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The daffodils were equally pleased with the weather and put on quite a show in January...
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We, however, cannot be fooled into thinking that we have seen an end to winter. We miss the warm sunshine so it’s time to repack our bags and head to the South Pacific. En-route – a short break in Japan to see the early plum blossoms in Narita...
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The extensive and ancient Naritasan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Tokyo attracts throngs of tourists even on a weekday in winter, but we got to see the elaborate three century old pagoda before the crowds arrived...
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Narita was a small farming community before the building of Tokyo's main airport and the locals fought hard, (and sometimes violently) against the development. The residents today are seemingly grateful for the huge influx of tourists and the quaint shopping streets are filled with souvenir shops and restaurants...
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Eels are the favourite local dish and numerous restaurants serve the local delicacy. Here is the chef preparing our lunch...
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We could easily stay in Japan, and will return in April when the cherry blossom festivals will be in full swing. But now we are drawn to the warm seas and summer sun of the Antipodes. So please tag along with us for the next eight weeks as we go walkabout downunder in search of kiwis, koalas and kangaroos.

Posted by Hawkson 20:54 Archived in Japan Comments (12)

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