If there’s a word that accurately conveys the glowing whiteness of a gannet caught in the early morning light just prior to dive bombing for a fish, I don’t know it. But I hope you can picture it.

As I lay down last night, determinedly ‘not tired’ and determinedly accepting ‘lights out’ as I was going to listen for the kiwi call so ably enacted by the warden last night, I drifted rapidly off to the sound of waves and woke to rain and the panic cry of the ‘variable’ oyster catchers, a pair of which have been jealously guarding their young off spring (only one so is it offsprung?).

Vicious beaks.

No electricity, in fact no power on this site, so no need for a shower….quick breakfast and off we went on the 1hour tramp to the headland. It took nearly two.

View from trig point.

Random beautiful tree.

Boardwalk through swamp.

Heading further to the Bay of Islands (BoI), we paused to visit the (hang on while I look it up….) Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve, the largest Reserve in the Bay of Islands Historic and Maritime Park, to search for the double bole Kauri tree. These trees grow up to 60m and were prized both for their use in waka (Maori boat) building but were also used to extract a gum used for varnish and for sticking in false teeth (appropriate).

Many of the trees have defects such as this at man height, remnants from the old practice of extracting gum, a process outlawed in 1905 – giving you an idea of how long these magnificent trees live.

Russell is a small but very touristy port in the midst of the BoI. A couple of highlights:

Old wooden pier with active passenger ferry service.

Voluntary radio service run by local fisherman volunteers. Everyone going out in a boat is encouraged to leave a ‘flight plan’ and the volunteers will ensure everyone is checked back in at the end of the day.

Fun local charter ship which channels all profits back into development of school children in the winter (bring your parrot! Peg legs welcome!).

Russell School: important presences and absences – all children without exception wear a blue hat, all staff members wear similar but white hat; absence of keep out signs and fences around school – I could easily have wandered in; a lot of the children were not wearing shoes! And it wasn’t PE.

Not great pics as I didn’t want to be caught taking pics of young kids at school.

Waitangi: in bold and underlined as it seems so important as it was here, on the west of the BoI that the Waitangi Treaty between the Maori tribes and the British government was signed in 1840. Of course it’s not that simple, many tribes did not sign, and others reluctantly, and the true intention of it was not clear. The site has the same atmosphere as Muir Woods in California (you’ll have to wiki this).

Elevated boardwalks lead from an enthralling museum to the carved whare or meeting house down to the memorial Waka, built at the suggestion of the Maori princess and launched in 1940 to commemorate the centenary of the treaty signing. The waka, Ngatokimatawhaorua, is 37m long, the main hull being constructed from one hollowed out Kauri tree.

The carvings and details are incredibly movingly beautiful. All different, hand carved and all symbolic.

This picture gives you an idea of the girth of one of these trees.

See small man in background? He is standing v close to the trunk, and is of normal stature. The boat takes 80 oarsmen and is used at least annually on the anniversary of the treaty signing.

Whoops! Forgot the Russell stocks.

This lady posed for her husband. I hoped mine would pose for me. Not keen. Lady proposed I pose, she would photo me. …. I felt, on balance, this was an adequate representation of the stocks!

And before our final smiles: the Rainbow Warrior memorial. Bombed at the behest of the French Government in 1985 as they objected to Greenpeace highlighting and trying to prevent French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, the Greenpeace boat the Rainbow Warrior was sunk, and a Portuguese photographer and campaigner was killed. The boat was sunk and the remains ultimately brought to waters in the BoI where now it is explored by divers.

A memorial has been erected at Matauri Bay, tonight’s campsite, where we have to make the difficult decision of gazing at the sea in front of or behind the van. Here is the memorial.

The marks on the rock indicate the site of the wreck.

It Lies this side of the tiny islands to the left of the headland.

Random thoughts:

Next to us tonight, a perfect example of a caravan being consumed into a shack. V common in NZ. Almost de riguer.

Interesting views prior to and on ferry:

Wild flower: black eyed Susan and (I think) impatiens.

ferry man (and woman). Man beckoned us on despite overhang from superstructure on boat which worried K. I reassured K nonchalantly that the ferry People knew what they were doing – then they looked anxious too.

Wildly imaginative names for chilled dog food:

And the aftermath of the cultural show at Waitangi – just regular Joes doing their job.

Two more days to go so using food up: pasta, spaghetti, dried peas, mixed frozen peppers and pasta sauce with grated cheese tonight. Bleuggghh. With wine. Better. 🙂

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