Back in January 2016 I posted the first part about my visits and voluntary involvement on Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland (link here if you’d like to re-read). During the most recent summer, I had the pleasure and indeed privilege of returning to Rotoroa on a regular basis to help out the Trust in the day-to-day running of the island.
Volunteer jobs are never going to be glamorous of course, but helping tourists have a more special visit to this little slice of paradise, as well as doing my bit in assisting in the conservation of native species is an absolute joy. I realised that from when I set foot on the boat in the morning until returning to land in the evening, nothing else matters in the world except being part of this wonderful conservation island with a unique human history.
Apologies for the slightly lesser quality of one or two of these pictures, which were taken on an iPhone.
I have been writing this blog now for around 3.5 years. When it began, my intention was to use it mainly as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and see what I’d been up to after moving to New Zealand from the UK.
I quickly realised – perhaps unsurprisingly – that not many people you know are actually that interested in what you are doing or saying (quite sad really as you might think that friends and family would be a main audience) but yet they are happy to share and read inane content on things like Facebook. Go figure. The flip side of this, however, is that I have been delighted to discover so many other blogs which are out there on WordPress and it has been fantastic to create new connections with people who have shared interests in many different parts of the world.
I thought I would therefore share just a few of these links with you in case you wish to explore them further yourself…
Nature Has No Boss – Mike Bizeau regularly posts some truly amazing landscape and wildlife photography from around the USA, often in wilderness areas like Yellowstone.
Uthamz – Utham captures some stunning images of big game animals in Africa, amazing to see.
Through Open Lens – Lucas Kondraciuk posts a good amount of excellent bird-based photography but with a twist – there is always a light-hearted joke to go with the facts in the post to brighten your day.
Nature’s Place – Mark posts truly incredible photos of insects. If macro photography and seeing the small residents of our planet is your thing, you will love this.
Travelling the World Solo – Ellen is from Australia and travels a lot, with a particular fondness for Greenland and Scandinavian countries. Some lovely photos and experiences are there to explore.
Stephen Liddell – Stephen has possibly the most fascinatingly researched blog that I follow, he regularly posts really interesting insights into the world and its history. He is an author with a varied portfolio too.
That will do for now – hope you enjoy exploring! I will share some more in future!
You read that title right just there!
Just off from the marina in Auckland, I had to do a double-take as I walked past a building where boats were stacked on top of each other for out-of-water storage.
Amazing what you see sometimes. A lot of people in NZ seem to own boats and I guess this is an ingenious way to store those that might be more susceptible to the elements if they had just been left in the water outside.
Everyone learns to drive by different rules and regulations so when you move to a new country you expect differences. In NZ, where they drive on the left just like the UK, I was thinking about the cultural differences of the actual drivers themselves and how I might describe the drivers if I had just a few words…
For New Zealand, I thought of “relaxed but impatient risk-takers” because they generally drive like no-one else is on the road and just move around (they do generally indicate) into any space going but people seem so laid back about it all. They like to duck and dive and do u-turns. Very unpredictable. There is no point gesticulating to anyone because they don’t even know you are there. They do like to use their horn if you delay them for even a second.
For the UK, I thought of “aggressive but aware and polite” because there are so many cars on the roads that people generally have to be really switched on to what is around them but because of these volumes people are easily riled and like to gesticulate out of the window…which makes things worse because others see it. Use of car horn is considered impolite. People will generally flash you to let you in to traffic.
Aren’t people odd?
What summary would anyone suggest for their country or other places they have been?
If you’ve never been to New Zealand, I would like you wish you luck pronouncing the name of this Forest which sits around 20 minutes south of Tauranga on the North Island. If you will permit me, I will try to give you what I see as a phonetic summary – Oh-Tar-Nay-Why-Noo-Koo.
It is a Department of Conservation site which is home to a kiwi conservation programme and there are native birds enjoying the predator-controlled forest too. I wanted to tell you about this because of the magnificent views you are treated to if you are willing to do the Summit Track at around 90 minutes return (moderate difficulty – including a beetle hitchhiker). You are treated to a magnificent (and enormous) view stretching as far as White Island (the marine volcano which is 50km offshore to the North) and Whakatane to the East. It is stunning. My photos don’t quite do it justice but it proves that to be treated to the wonders of nature, you often have to put in a bit of an effort yourself first.
There is also a lovely B&B just down the road in Oropi called Rolling Hills Country Stay, just in case you are tempted.
Just outside Rotorua on NZ’s North Island, to the top of Lake Rotorua lies perhaps the clearest water I have ever seen – even clearer than what comes out of the tap in the house!
Here is Hamurana Springs which contains the largest natural spring on the North Island with around 4 million litres of water coming up per hour. It takes 70 years for the water to get to this point which must yet again prove that it is worth taking your time over a job well done!
It is truly beautiful to visit and you can clearly see that the ducks love it too. Trout are happily (and clearly) swimming around and someone even told me they had seen a rat swimming across the river earlier that day.
Part of the 45 minute walk to the spring and back is the Dancing Sands (you can watch a lovely video of this on YouTube here – click this link), a peaceful location where you watch the water bubbling up through sand. There are also huge redwood trees to be dwarfed by and native birds flying around. So idyllic.
If you get chance, this is a must-see, and totally free too!
A few months back I was able to head over to the east of the North Island and visit Gisborne and its surrounds for the first time. Great to get out and explore a bit again! This area has a very low population density and it is a delight to get away from everyone else and relax. Gisborne was a really pleasant surprise, I expected a remote, run down backwater to be honest but it is a compact city with a beach in the city centre and accessible rivers and is in a stunning area of beauty.
In 1769, this was the place where Captain Cook first set foot on Aotearoa (or New Zealand as it became). Unfortunately, as they came into conflict with local Maori, they left the area without any supplies and labelled the landing site as Poverty Bay as it did not give them anything they wanted. Sad but true…according to my Rough Guide anyway!
It would of course be wrong to say that Cook discovered NZ because that remarkable feat was achieved by Polynesian navigators a long time before, but we Brits still liked to claim everything as our own in that era (these days we enjoy past glories in the main!).
Anyway, here are some photos of the East Cape area, from Wairoa and the Mahia Peninsula to the South, Gisborne in the middle (which has three rivers converging in its centre, including NZ’s shortest), and Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay to the North. Tolaga Bay possesses the longest concrete jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 660m long – an interesting relic of a bygone era now perhaps but still lovely to walk along.