Kia ora, everyone!
When last I wrote, we were at the top of the South Island and today I wrote from the top of the North Island. Another month has passed in a flash and it is only now we have started to realise our adventure here in Aotearoa New Zealand is coming close to an end. I think selling Mabel has really brought it home. Our visas run out halfway through January so we expect to be home by the end of the month, maybe early February. No plans as yet because it’s much more exciting to not have a plan! We are thinking of travelling through Thailand or another part of Asia on the way home so any pointers are welcome!
We left Kimi Ora in Kaiterteri for the last time just over three weeks ago. Introducing Brigitta and the lovely Tilly. Tilly is the slightly evil looking one in the middle (and a dog) and Brigitta is the one of the left (and most definitely a person). She is, in fact, one of the best people I have met ever! Ours is a friendship that came entirely by chance but was so entirely welcome. It can be hard to make friends when you don’t stay in any one place for too long but we connected so instantly that I knew it was the beginning of a life time friendship! Plus, Brigitta is half Austrian so she’ll be in Europe at some point soon! Right, Geets?!
This is us having some much needed beach days when we all finally got coinciding days off!
From Kaiteriteri, we drove back over the hill to spend some time with John and Betsy and their son, Hamish, his partner, Mon, and the newest addition to the family, little Georgia! And, of course, Hank!
John and Betsy have taken us in and looked after us like their own family; their kindness has been just awesome! Truly two in a million! Thank you, thank you, thank you, John and Betsy!!!
Us on the farm meeting some of the new calves and me pretending to fit in to life on the farm! Rocking the overalls and gumboots!
After some sad goodbyes (mainly on my part), we left the farm to explore the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island before we took the ferry back to the North Island. We met a Scottish couple that I traded some Scottish Blend teabags with for some Irn Bru and we went swimming in the sea for the first in months!
Mabel’s first trip on the ferry…we think!
Only stayed a night in Wellington but we got to meet the cutest babies, Tom and Olive, who belong to Nic’s sister, Amy, and her husband, Glen. They had only just found out they were pregnant when we last stayed over near the start of our time here. After a night in a proper bad and a hot shower, we were ready for more exploring!
Cape Palliser at the bottom of the North Island gave us the Putangirua Pinnacles….guess where you’ve seen it before……………..
……………………..Lord of the Rings: Return of the Ring!
From there we started to head towards Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island, stopping over for a night at a farm we had wwoofed at before and spent an awesome night with Craig catching up over beers and games.
This was the sad day we passed Mabel on to her new owners and the next day when we spent over nine hours on a bus from Gisborne to Auckland. We only spent two nights in the city but wandered around a little and saw the art gallery. By the second day, we had decided that carrying our backpacks and travelling by bus was not for us. We hired a car and headed north up to Northland to explore some more.
History Part! Ready…….
Waitangi Treaty Grounds; Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important historic site where a treaty was signed between the British Crown and the prominent chiefs of the indigenous Maori on 6th February 1840. The principle aims for the Crown were to protect Maori interest from the vast numbers of settlers arriving from Europe, to provide for British settlement and to establish a government therefore maintaining order. Each Maori iwi (tribe) had their own laws put in place by the rangatira (chief) so the notion of central governance employed by the British was confusing and caused much upset because the British often disregarded Maori law. The Maori and the British also had very different ideas of land law. The Maori believed the land to be theirs to live off and on and belonging to the iwi instead of an individul. The British viewed land as a commodity to be bought and sold under one owner. When the Treaty was translated from English into Maori, there were some discrepancies which are being disputed to this day.
The Treaty Grounds are home to two of the nation’s icons. The first is the marae (above), which is a carved Maori meeting house, built by the Ngapuhi tribe to represent all Maori iwi and to commemorate the centenary of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. This one is named ‘Te Whare Runanga’ and is traditionally this would be where all social meetings take place. This was constructed facing the building that housed the first British resident and his family as a sign of friendship between the two peoples.
The second icon is the ceremonial waka taua (war canoe) named ‘Ngatokimatawhaorua’. It is one of the largest Maori waka at 37.5 metres long, 2 metres wide, weighing 12 tonnes. It requires a crew of 80 to take it out on the water safely and would still fit another 55 warriors in alongside those rowing. Probably a pretty terrifying sight at one time.
Carvings are how Maori tell their stories, history and geneology. A moko (face tattoo) tell of ancestry and lineage and, because the head was seen as the most sacred part of the body, face tattos were a symbol of rank, social status, power and prestige. If you are super intetested, here is one of the websites that I used when I was researching Maori history. It goes into great detail of the legends and history behind the Maori art of Ta Moko and well worth a read!⬇
Aotearoa was said to have been discovered by Kupe but named by his wife, Hine-te-Aparangi. When out on the waka (boat) searching for the reason there were no fish o be caught around their island of Hawaiiki, Hine-te-Aparangi called out “He ao! He ao tea! He ao tea roa!” It translates “a long white cloud” which meant land was to be found behind. The land became known as Aotearoa.
The next day we went in search of nature and swimming after a day of history and learning! There are wo different waterfalls in the area we stayed; Rainbow Falls and Haruru Falls (bottom two photos). You just make out a rainbow in the second photo! It was too beautiful not to go for a swim at Rainbow Falls!
Up in the centre of Northland, we spent four nights in two of the coolest airbnb places we could find! The last two photos are of a studio hut in the bush with runs on solar electricity and I think the water comes from a nearby stream. The other three photos are of a house bus named Evie that relies on rainwater. Gathering lots of ideas just as we hope it will help us to be somewhat self-sufficent when we settle in our own little spot. At least we’d never run out of rain water in Scotland!
On Sunday just past, we booked onto a wee ferry over from Paihia on the east coast to Urupukapuka Island. The Bay of Islands have around 144 islands all together and Urupukapuka is one of the largest. The islands have no pests (rats, stoats, rabbits) so the bird life is abundant! The Department of Conservation is working really hard to eradicate invasive and introduced predators from New Zealand which were all brought here by Europeans; either on purpose for food or by accident on ships. Even without much sun, we swam in the sea and got sunburnt….first time in the whole time here!
Last night was maybe one of the most magical places we have stayed at in the whole of New Zealand! A tree house!!! It was childhood fantasy brought to life! I tried to upload a video underneath because the photos were not doing it justice but the computer/website has decided against it for me. Just when I think I’m getting good at this technical shit. Plus it’s 10pm and someone kept filling my wine glass this evening!
We were so sad to leave after only one night but what a magical night! We sat on the little deck watching the sun set through the trees with a glass of wine.
Back at our home base for a couple of nights with Robin and Dorothy to figure out our next move. Not sure where the next couple of months will take us yet but it’s exciting! Spending Christmas with Nic, Keiran, Robin, Dorothy, Amy, Glen and the babies in Waihi so lots of swimming in the ocean and barbeques to come!
Apologies for any mistakes but it’s super late, I can hear snoring all around me as I type from the computer in the hallway and I just wanted to get to bed!
Speak soon, K xxx