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Krista's Travels

Hokianga Homecoming

USA | Sunday, 26 April 2009 | Views [607]

Enjoying the Kauri trees

Enjoying the Kauri trees

Well, here I am, nearing the end of my trip and I land in a very very small town named Omapere, in the Hokianga Harbor area. I was picked up by the owner of Globetreker's Lodge, a lovely lady named Sue, and promptly given the quick tour of the area, complete with opinions on which of the two miniscule shops to patronize and which to boycott, where the hiking trails are, and where to get a cuppa. The hostel was comfortable (complete with hammocks), happy, relaxed, and full of really great people. I had great conversations with an older guy, John, who had been there since last december, with the owners, with other travellers. It's a good thing everyone was so nice, because we all got stuck there most of a day when a monster windstorm was hammering us to bits.

That afternoon I walked along the beach out around the point to where the Tasman Sea comes into the harbor. Rugged, not many people, achingly beautiful, with gorgeous sand dunes across on the other side. Waves crashing mightily into the rocky shoreline, complete with blowholes and arches, dunes and verticle cliffs.

The first night (tuesday) I went on a night tour of the Kauri forest nearby (Waipoua Kauri forest) with a Maori guide. He sang and prayed in Maori the most hauntingly beautiful sounds ever to reach my ears, echoing through the forest, and you knew the massive, ancient trees understood and responded through vibrations in the air. With spotlight he showed us two of the largest remaining Kauri trees, the giants of North NZ. Only 4% remain, but these two they estimate at 2,000 years old! GASP! The size impressed me immensely, and I have spent much time in the Hoh, seen the redwoods, and the rest. The 4 hour tour was a spiritual experience and I felt very bonded to the other 11 on the tour by the end.

Wednesday I went bone carving. This is something you can do in several places in NZ. Bone carving necklaces are popular at the souvenier shops and at the outdoor markets, a traditional Maori artform, often used to carve a family or tribe or personal history but nowadays usually it is one of several stock symbols: a fishhook, spiral, tiki, etc. My instructor James, and his wife, Charlotte, welcomed me into their home for the day, and I spent from 9am to 3:30 pm working on my necklace, was fed lunch and all. James took me to the beach and he fished while I sanded on my piece. All in all very loving friendly hospitable folks and a great experience. Most other places you do bone carving, you don't get much time and you don't get to design your own piece, just pick from some stock designs already hacked out of the bone and you just sand it up. Also, you could be in a workshop with 30 other people. I had James and Charlotte all to myself. I decided to extend my originally planned 2 days to 5 days at this point as I was already in love with the beautiful and peaceful area.

Thursday brought me up to a waterfall and kauri tree hike in the hatchback part of a prius driven by none other than FOUR americans and a fellow backpacker (Kyra from Holland) who had met them the night before. I curled up there in the back for the short ride and we all had fun. We stopped at a puzzle place after the hike and I bought some raw kauri gum to polish and smaller pieces to burn back home. The guide on the footprints tour had burned some and I loved the smell.

Friday I hopped back in James' van when he arrived to pick up 2 more friendly Irish: Steve and Nicoloa, to use his sandpaper to shine up my raw kauri gum I'd acquired the day before. A good excuse to see him and Charlotte again and to talk to Charlotte about her love of country music (she performs in a group locally). She invited me to come with her sunday all day to a nearby town where they'd be performing. I ended up leaving sunday morning so I didn't go, but how nice of her to invite me!  Friday afternoon the wind picked up and a massive windstorm hit that night. I couldn't sleep because every big gust tried to lift our little cabin up and fly it away to OZ, I swear! Our little hostel pearched on a relatively bald hill, by the rugged coast, being absolutely hammerred by the wind.

Saturday torrential rains joined the wind and neither died down until mid afternoon. I really enjoyed the excuse to do nothing but chat, sip tea, read, and nap. I got a text from James at 3 and we all lept at the chance to go fishing with him and Charlotte. He'd beem talking about it all week and I'd already missed out on an oppurtunity when I was galavanting around with the Americans and Kauris and labyrinths at puzzle houses, so I wasn't missing this one! We acquired a few more souls on the way to the beach, just tourists looking interested in all our fishing poles and being folded into the family by James and Charlotte as seems to be their habit! We all had good fun, catching plenty of red snapper and everyone caught something. Even those who had never fished before. And me, WA-HOO! I finally got to learn to fish with a handline! And even casted it myself and caught two fish! Ok, so both were too small to keep, but just barely! We all went back to their house for a fish fry for dinner and went home oh so satiated in so many many ways. 

Sunday (today) I returned to Auckland, but I will never forget my time in Hokianga or the people I met there. 

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