chilling feet

chilling feet

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Auckland, Giant Sand Dunes, Raging Oceans, and a Cave(

(Kauri Tree Museum - all sorts of amazing stuff made from the trees here)
For our official last post on our times in New Zealand (probably our last post), we will finish up our North Island trip with a grand story of visiting New Zealand's largest city, giant sand dunes immense enough to sled down, oceans at war with one another, and some late night cave wanderings.  There was so much and it would be so boring to read about it all so we will go to the old usual and show tons of pictures!  I will share a little bit though.

The drive up North of Auckland to investigate the giant peninsula was really fun.  One of the highlights was the Kauri Tree museum where one could find pretty much every single item ever made from a Kauri tree over the past 200 years or so.  Tables, desks, stair cases, shelves, all sorts of little objects, and as seen in the picture giant pieces of the actual trees.    
(The Lord of the Forest - largest Kauri tree)
(At times the rules were different.  Interesting read)

(As we walk down towards the lighthouse Sarah pauses to peer at the waters)
(Here you can see the battle I have been talking about!)
When we finished the Kauri museum we continued up the coast and saw all sorts of amazing things.  There were tons of little artist shops with unique and creative pieces we enjoyed seeing and we ate at some delicious road side New Zealand restaurants.  Delicious!!  The next highlight was Cape Reinga where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet at the northern most part of the peninsula.  It was spectacular to watch as they raged against one another!  The waves coming in from the East claimed dominance as their powerful forces swirled in to meet their foe.  At the same time crashing peaks of immense power came from the West confident and demanding. The way they met, both unrelenting, was a sheer image of power.  I enjoyed the poetic beauty of it and tried desperately to claim a champion among the contenders.  It seemed, however at least to my eyes, there was no clear victor and instead only a persistent and continuous war. 

(Sarah hiking up to sled down one more time.  Crazy how big these guys are)
When we finished admiring the colliding oceans and checking out a beautiful lighthouse, we traveled back South in search of the giant sand dunes we had heard about.  We were not so sure about how sledding down sand dunes would be, but it ended up as quite a riot.  If we had more energy we would have continued to hike up the dunes over and over again so we could slide back down (at the bottom is a video of Sarah coming down - pretty funny and it really gives the feel of how high up we were).  If there are ever giant sand dunes nearby grab a sled and go have some fun - we will meet you there!

(It's hard to see the dolphins but the common dolphins have a really cool
three color appearance.  There around 50-100 dolphins in this pod)
One last highlight!  When Miriam and Gordon were traversing the North Island they went on a wildlife boat cruise to see and possibly swim with dolphins. During the trip they saw not one solitary animal - no seal, dolphin, whale, or any other animal poked its head up to say hello.  Because of this they were able to get a free ride to go again, which we were able to use in their stead - lucky us!  We gladly accepted these tickets and went for an amazing ride from Kaikoura out towards the sea.  We saw a huge pod of common dolphins, the famous "hole in the rock," seals, and had a beautiful day out on the water.   What a trip - thanks Miriam and Gordon!

We finished our travels on the North Island with a little Auckland time.  There were some really amazing people we met up there and it was certainly a neat city.  Please scroll through and take a peek at the pics below.  A few of them came out pretty well and capture a good deal of what we experienced.  Enjoy. 

(Cape Reinga lighthouse)
(Whenever we see a sign for the South Pole one of us gets overly excited!)
(There are all sorts of Maori myths surrounding this cape.  It was pretty cool reading them on the signs)
(Here you can see the "steps" over to the right that lead the Maori down into the underworld)
(More baby sheep!!)
(Gonna show Sarah how to do it.  Step one - make an awesome face at the person behind you to show how fearless you are)
(Step two - get the board lined up perfectly so that when the time comes the launch is flawless)
(Step 3 - launch yourself down the sand mountain and be sure to keep the legs up so they won't cause you to slow down at all.  There is too much of a need for speed!)
(Did I say there were more baby sheep??)
(Another waterfall along the way - just outside Kaikoura)
(We stayed here one night and this one is really for those who know my nickname from childhood)
(How many can you count cresting slightly out of the water?  It was hard to catch them in a shot.  You see them and then BAM they are gone again.  Hold still!!)
(Cape Brett - nope, not making it up.  Sounds like from what we learned this was one crazy lighthouse to work at when it was manned before becoming automatic)
(The Hole in the Rock!!)
(The town of Russell.  The oldest New Zealand town in the country!  It was filled with sailors and at one point was described as Hell on Earth.  I think we can see from here it has changed somewhat)
(The Pompallier Mission House was in Russell.  At his mission house the women started making Bibles for the Moari in their own language, which at the time was a huge deal and was almost never done.  This pic is part of the process)
(This church is famous for the musket ball holes in the side of the walls from some previous battles - and a cannon ball)
(See I told you)
(Epic tree of story tales in Russell.  Clearly it is magical)
(On our way to Auckland Sarah convinced us to go caving.  I took some convincing since it was night time and we were by ourselves.  But they we got in one of the caves and had a blast)
(Video of Sarah coming down!!)
(A glow worm from the cave - they are actually really scary and if they were human sized we would all be in big trouble)
(Cheapest gas we ever saw in NZ.  It was usually 2.17/liter which comes out to somewhere around 9 dollars/gallon)
(French Market in Auckland)
(A park in Auckland with some amazing trees)
(The war museum in Auckland)
(A MOA replica - they were huge - and lived not long ago)
(Auckland Sunset)
(We had dinner in the skytower in Auckland - not a bad view.  And you can lean out over the city)
(I didn't like it much)