We went on down the coast to Ka Lae...the most Southern point of the USA. This point of land extends out from the coast and is relatively flat...and very windy. The shrubs and small trees grow bent with the predominent winds. When we arrived the wind was blowing a gale and it was dramatic as a result. The sandy soil was being driven against our skin...and it was hot, hot, hot! There were high cliffs where people jump to the sea below....too scary for me...but one brave soul was perched on the cliff top, plucking up his courage! The sea was crashing in with the wave tops being blown off in the incredible winds. It was so strange to be in such a windy, stormy spot and to be so warm! When we got into the relative calm of the car we were picking sand from our teeth, or eyebrows and our ears.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
How appropriate! We started this adventure in Raratonga in the rain, and now we are on the desert side of Hawaii and rain is falling. What is more incredible and unusual is that the rain is forecast to fall for another 11 days! Ah well...we decided to make the most of it...the rain is very warm so we decided to brave the elements and go further afield. We started with a drive to Maluka State Park where we took a short hike into a forest of native trees. It was interesting as the trees are growing on lava...so different from the soil covered ground we are used to. This made the path quite rocky with clinkers strewn over its surface. The walk was demanding as a result. There were frogs chirping in the underbrush and song birds serenading us from above, despite the rain that was falling. We hiked in to see an old volcanic steam vent that had sulphur clinging to the rock face and trees growing from its floor. The rain eased up and we made our way further south along the coast. We passed huge expanses of lava flows which continued miles and miles into the ocean. We learned that the brown lava we saw was about 1,500 years old and a forest was reestablishing in it and the black barren lava was from an eruption in 1984.
We arrived on The Big Island of Hawaii and were quickly installed in our apartment near Kona. We decided to relax a bit for the first couple of days...just to get the cobwebs out of our heads after a long flight. We also had to get groceries as we had to leave everything behind when we left NZ. Our apartment is in a very quiet part of the island and is surrounded by gardens with beautiful tropical flowers which are very fragrent and colourful.
Kona is a smallish place so exploring did not take long. The beaches are quite different from other islands, small and quite rocky. The ocean is a bit rough as well because the coast is exposed to the uninterrupted swells of great distance. The main water activity is snorkeling...which we did on day three. We saw many beautiful fish, although I didn't stay in long as I found it a bit rough. We will try again at a different beach on a different day.
Saturday, 25 April 2015
We left New Zealand en route to Hawaii for the last leg of our journey. Our flight was pleasant and we arrived at our hotel in Honolulu at 11:30 pm.
The next morning we awoke to beautiful blue skies and the temperature started to climb. One thing we had not done when we were here on our honeymoon 35 years earlier was climb Diamond Head...so we got our walking shoes on and off we went.
A taxi took us into the caldera and we hiked up the rough path to the summit where we had beautiful views. It was a hard climb..rising 750 feet, in the scorching heat as there is not a breath of wind in the caldera itself.
Having accomplished both the climb and the descent, we went to Waikiki Beach for a quick dip before we had to leave for the airport and the commuter flight to Kona on the island of Hawaii.
Friday, 24 April 2015
We have done many things in New Zealand...here are the stats:
80 days in New Zealand, 7 in Roratonga.- 33 days in B&B, 1 night in a hostel, 3 nights in motels, 3 nights in camp cabins, 44 nights in the tent.
Drove 6,500 km, 4,000 on the South Island - 2,500 on the North.
Biked 35 km
Walked and hiked 133 km
Our trip to New Zealand is fast coming to a close. Our last day was upon us and we decided to do something special. We ended up deciding to pack and then to take one last lesson in kite surfing.
We went to Orewa where we met our instructor...an eighteen year old from Germany. How humbling to have such a young man with so much expertise! He had us flying the kite in no time and we made great progress. As the day wore on more and more kiters appeared and the huge beach was soon busy with kiters zooming about and jumping atop the waves around us humble beginners!
It was a wonderful end to a most wonderful visit in a country full of outdoor adventure opportunities.
Thursday, 23 April 2015
As our last days in New Zealand are upon us we are busy with our final preparations for departure. The ordinary chores of travelling life are taking up our time, doing laundry, reviewing our travel documents, making decisions about what will come with us and what will remain behind to name just a few. We spent some hours at this task and then later in the day we took a short trip to a park not far from where we are staying.
When we arrived we decided to take a short walk to a lookout over the coast. To our delight we found that the walkway made its way through an old Kauri forest. Thanks to the education in native birds that we had been exposed to on the island sanctuary the day before we were able to identify the songs of the birds in the branches above our heads. We saw the Tui and the Forest Pigeon and heard others which were hidden in the trees. The Kauri trees were huge and the regenerating forest was think under them. When we reached the lookout we had the additional treat of seeing orca whales in the ocean below us.
We rounded out the day with a visit to Cauldrey House, an historic building on the grounds.
Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Just off the coast in the Harbour of the Greater Auckland area there are several islands. One of these, Tiriti Matangi has been set aside as an open sanctuary. This island is devoted to preserving native New Zealand flora and fauna. This is in reaction to actions taken by the Europeans when New Zealand was opened up. At the time, Islands were ideal locations for farming as they were readily accessible by boat, the primary and often only mode of transportation at the time. The islands and most of the arable areas of the country were therefore laid bare, completely deforested and made appropriate for cattle and sheep for grazing. In addition, rabbits were introduced as a food source and they reproduced out of control. To rectify this problem, stoats were introduced as a predator for the rabbits. Also, rats migrated to New Zealand via ships arriving from overseas. The total affect of these actions is that many species of animals, birds and flora became extinct or are on the brink.
In the 1970's the Island of Tiritiri Matangi was reforested with native plants. Volunteers planted hundreds of thousands plants. In addition rats and other preditors were erradicated and the island is now a sanctary forNew Zealand native birds, lizards and geckos which are close to extinction. We took a walking tour with a volunteer who is well acquainted with the species on the island.
We saw many birds in their natural habitat. There are no cages or enclosures. The Birds live completely fee with very little intervention by man. We saw may different birds including the Kokako, of which there are only 250 remaining in the world; the Tukahe also has only a few hundred remaininng, many in sanctuaries such as this Island; the stitchbird, the Tui and the Saddleback. There are other less endangered birds as well, the robin and the fantail to name but two. It was a remarkable experience. The path took us through a gully with huge trees which was one of the few areas on the island left untouched by the deforestation of the past. This gully was alive with bird song and birds swooping about. It was so unusual and unparelled as a woodland experience for me.
At the end we were treated with a glimpse of the extremely rare Kokao which was perched on a bird bath in a secluded spot on the return to the boat which had brought us originally. Conincidentally the trip took us past the headland we had walked around the previous day, so we were able to see it from a variety of perspectives.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
After a quiet morning we decided to take a hike in the local park. Shakespear Park is equipped with specially designed fences and gates to keep predators away from native bird species. It is also a beautiful location with views of various islands in the area, as well as downtown Auckland. It has a number of walks and we chose one which wended its way through pasture land and led to the coast. As the tide was low, we were able to navigate around the headland over the sea bottom which is usually underwater. We saw beautiful and different rock formations, interesting cliffs as well as the beautiful ocean vistas.
The overall walk was 6 kms and we made it back to our starting point after a few hours of tramping. At this point there was an interesting frame for picture taking opportunities. We also stopped at a beach where we saw very interesting trees that have grown in very unusual ways from the bank onto the beach itself.