Trip Start Aug 28, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, September 4, 2003

Well, the weather took a turn for the worse today - unfortunately whilst I was halfway on a walk in the Waipoua Forest, so I have got very wet and very muddy.  But more anon...

This is a country of extremes - just yesterday the weather was wonderful and I was sitting on a beach. Today I revisited the same beach to say goodbye and then drove south.  First through Herekino gorge, and a mountain range, and then through thick rainforest.  Apt, then, that it should rain.

I still cannot decide whether I feel admiration for man's endeavour against the odds or to mock his folly.  I drove on a road today that wound round coiled springs for corners and up over mountains.  The views were spectacular, particularly between Ahipara and Rawene, but there was tense sensation of the mountains wanting to reclaim the roads as they perch so precariously on the sides of the steep slopes.  Along all the length, the edges are being nibbled away, either eroding or subsiding into fans of earth onto the roads themselves.  In places, man has tried to patch up these broken, lacy edges but only a yard or two further and the mountains bite back.

My first stop today was to marvel at Tane Mahuta.  Having seen the monstrous Kauri trunks that had been pulled out of the ground a day ago, here was my chance to acquaint myself with the giants of the forest as they live and breath.  The forest here at Waipoua is very verdent, thick and heavy with life and very ancient.  

 Tane Mahuta, itself is the largest living Kauri standing 51m high and has stood there, sentinel over the forest, for approximately 1500yrs.  Seeing the tree itself was something of a shock.  After a short walk through the rainforest, suddenly he is there, an awe inspiring sight. The tingles were rippling in waves up my spine. He doesn't seem so tall but his trunk is massive, coming to an abrupt stop to allow his branches to sprout out of the top (Kauri have lower branches during their youth but shed them as they age).  The bark is scaly, and just like a nasty dose of dandruff, they are shed onto the forest floor.  The Department of Conservation has built board walks around the base because these monster trees are actually quite fragile and their roots systems easily disturbed.  The scales make the trunks mottled - a little like marble.

From there, I popped into the Visitor Centre to investigate a good walk.  The Lookout Walk was suggested and recommended as it has only just opened after foul weather closed it for a while. I set off with great enthusiasm.  It was cloudy at this point but the sun kept breaking through for short visits.  The walk started with a steep climb up the valley side, but the roots of the trees provided a staircase.  It was tiring but beautiful.  And then it started to rain.  I threw on my waterproofs and blessed the great God of the Forest for allowing me to remember my gaiters.  Not elegant leg wear but within fifteen minutes of the rain starting, my tree root staircase had become a waterfall, and the only thing stopping water from getting into my boots were my natty gaiters.  In addition, the walk was one of those deceptive trails - just when you think you've reached the top, another steep gradient sneaks up on you!

My Nan has recently criticised me for never finishing anything.  It's a comment that has obviously hurt, but I had it in mind, I waded through mud and spontaneous streams and waterfalls.  So I didn't give up.  I continued to the very top of this hill to find the Lookout Station (mercifully in the dry).  If I had given up, I would have missed the marvellous view of the tree canopy and across the country to the coast and sea (Ed.s note:  I discovered the sea view two years later when I revisited the area).  Actually, I did miss the view because the clouds had come down to rest on the mountainsides and I could see no further than the tree line.  The three hour return walk was not entirely wasted.  I, at least, know that my waterproofs are not entirely waterproof.

The weather was foul for the rest of the day and I decided to push passed Durgaville so I could get to Auckland earlier tomorrow since I need to get the waste pipe lever fixed at the Camper Depot.  Since the walk took longer than anticipated (I was told an hour up and an hour down, but I expect the mud and tangled tree roots held me up!)  I decided to abandon the rest of my plans.

The campsite here is on a little hill over looking a river estuary.  It is very busy but it does have free hot water for as long as I want it.  After my adventures on the hill, I certainly wanted it and I am very grateful to them for it!
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