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9.9.09 11:12


The Northland: 23.08. - 27.08.

This is the first of three entries I will be making to cover our trip around the North Island. This one is about the Northland, the area north of Auckland. It covers the first five days of the trip.

The soul of a dead Maori strives to go home, to go to Hawaiki. Souls of the deceased travel along the east and the west coast until they meet up north at Cape Reinga. There grows a tree; souls slide down its roots and depart to the homelands… As if not to disturb the dead this area is sparsely populated. The next door neighbor may be living a kilometer away and everybody seems to know everybody within a radius of a far distance. While traveling here it is easy to get caught in the mysterious aura of the landscape, which at times may be even a bit haunting.

Karlien, Flo and I got an enchanting introduction to the Northland on our first night. We camped by the Mangawhai Heads south of the Bay of Islands. Sitting on the beach we watched the stars. What an incredible night; the Milky Way was clearly visible, it looked like stardust. But what was happening down by the sea was just as amazing: Waves washed brightly glowing spots by the dozen onto the shore. They looked like glowworms, only that they did not move. Whenever we shone a light onto one of them we could only see the sand.

My expectations of the Bay of Islands were not met, probably because we did not take a boat out to one of the islands.  Instead we drove to Kawakawa to use the public toilets there - they were designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser!

On our fourth day we drove way up north. Fog surrounded us - the souls of the dead? We had breakfast on the Ninety Mile Beach. The name is deceptive, it isn’t that long. On the other hand, “Ninety Kilometer Beach” sounds ridiculous! Every now and then a car with four wheel drive would cruise over the beach. They just keep on driving forever and the view stays the same. What strange limbo was this? Our sight was very limited, but it was so predictable how things looked like further north and further south… everything keeps on returning in the land of the wandering souls.

At Cape Reinga the fog was even worse. We were simply staring against a white wall. Maybe we were able to hear the sea - I can’t remember. But I could see the lighthouse when I stood right in front of it. Later on we enjoyed the view from Cape Reinga by looking at postcards in a souvenir shop.

Man, this place owed us big time! And believe me, we were compensated. That afternoon we rented body boards and took them to sand dunes just south of Cape Reinga: an area of 14 km², some dunes must have been one hundred meters high (maybe that’s a fantasy of mine). We slid down the dunes on our boards. That was awesome… that was freaky! A mixture of snowboarding and surfing in the middle of what could have been a freaking desert!! That night we had a lot of sand in our campervan.

On our way back south we stopped at the Waipoua Forest. There we saw a 2.000 year old Kauri tree with a girth of 13.8 meters. Its name was Tane Mahute, God of the forest.

In Dargaville we visited the parents of Saphire, Flo’s and Karlien’s flat mate. What very friendly and chatty people they are! They enlightened us about what the mysterious washed up lights at the Mangawhai Heads where: Phosphorus, a type of mineral. We were lucky, only on four days of the year they get washed onto the shore.

i am happy to say, that we did not leave the Northland from Cape Reinga, we drove back south through Auckland instead. Our next stop was to be the Coromandel Peninsula on the east coast.

9.9.09 11:06

5.9.09 15:05

Buenos Noches,

Meet my travel companions: Karlien from Maastricht and Flo from Freiburg.

And meet the splendid countryside of the Mangawhai Heads in the Northlands.

The semester is halfway over and we got two weeks of recess.  So we joined together to rent a campervan and to tour a bit around the North Island, from which we just returned yesterday.   

I’ll blog more about this trip at a later point, as I am quite busy at the moment preparing for an exam I’m writing the coming week.

Best to all of ye ;-P

5.9.09 15:03

19.8.09 13:05

How I Failed as a Ring-baerer in Rotorua

Oh, what grief! I have lost you; lost you truly… my PRECIOUS!

One ring to bind us, yet this ring had a will of its own - it abandoned me. And it took a part of me with it. How long must it now lie in the blur water of Kerosine Creek where it slipped from my finger?

Rotorua is about 120 km east of Hamilton - halfway to Rotorua lies Hobbiton. Here the ring-bearer started on his quest through Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the Lord of the Rings. Ben, who joined us this weekend, reckoned that it is no wonder that the trilogy was filmed in New Zealand; where else could all the landscapes be found which encompass a whole (fantastic) world?

Water seemed to be the central theme of our weekend: In water my ring slipped off; Rotorua is surrounded by lakes; and it rained most of the time during our visit.

It was raining as we arrived in the Maori village of Ohinemutu on the banks of Lake Rotorua. What a blend of Maori and European influences! Look at the top right picture: At the front right there is a wooden Maori carving; behind it is a statue of an angel; and in the background there is an Anglican church, built in a similar way as Maoris would build their Maraes. One window inside the church displays a portrait of Jesus Christ wearing a Maori cloak.

South of Rotorua we hiked in the Whakarewarewa Forest between the Blue Lake and the Green Lake. Scenic beaches stretched along the shore and fern grew everywhere.

Rotorua is very special. If one can get anywhere a sense of how alive and restless the world must be underneath its crust - especially underneath New Zealand - , then it is here: Geysers, steam emerging from the ground, bubbling lakes, and the sulfur smell of rotten eggs give proof. On Sunday we went to look at a mud pool. Not only did the mud bubble, at times it firmly exploded into bits and pieces, as can be seen on the bottom center picture. Soft ‘plop’-sounds surrounded us, a weird experience.

Eventually, we went to the Kerosine Creek to swim in body temperature water. There it happened: the ring which helped binding me to my sweetheart in Germany slipped off. I tried to feel it; the water was to muddy to see the bottom and probably the current carried it further downstream. After half an hour I gave up, it was hopeless. I lost it, and it did not feel good. I lost it,… my PRECIOUS! 
19.8.09 13:00

9.8.09 13:52

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