New Zealand, Trip to Other Earth
North Island, New Zealand
I am saying goodbye to 2017 with a post from our family trip in May to the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve condensed my family’s trip to New Zealand into this one post. We spent time in New Zealand for a week at the Bay of Islands. Then, we flew to Tahiti & Bora Bora and then returned to New Zealand a second time and spent a week in Auckland. I’ve edited our travels to included our wilderness adventures at the Bay of Islands and also on New Zealand’s most recent volcanic eruption: Mount Rangitoto.
New Zealand (NZ) proved to be a raw, wild land of mystery; a land I only touched the surface of and am eager to return to!
I love that New Zealanders revere nature and fight to keep wild spaces free of human development. New Zealand is an example of how much better Earth is when the population of humans stays small.
The Maori culture is more extroverted than the newer European culture and it creates an intriguing mix of gregariousness and aloofness. At first, I found the aloofness a little cold and it made me feel lonely, but as days turned to weeks, the culture grew on me. New Zealand is not as it first appears. It is a culture of curiosities and mysteries. There is a wildness to New Zealand, juxtaposed against a raw human spirit that is as fierce as it is timid. I want more!
New Zealanders are polite and reserved in general. I always received a polite hello in shops, but any friendly small talk was met with sudden silence and a scowl. In rural New Zealand, any chit chat or touristy type questions are viewed as suspicious. For example, in the small coastal town of Paihai (The Bay of Islands), the pharmacist handed me children’s allergy medication but refused to discuss it further; all of my questions were met with a blank stare. However, I felt very safe in New Zealand, they are well organized for humanitarian needs.
My introduction to New Zealand was rough. We were stranded at the Auckland airport, at night, in heavy rain. We’d caught the tail end of Cyclone Donna, which was fitting, as we’d experienced Cyclone Debbie a few months earlier in Brisbane and before that, our plane hit an unnamed cyclone and dropped suddenly over the South Pacific on our way to Australia (from Canada) in early March.
Bay Of Islands
Our first week in NZ, the girls and I spent at the Bay of Islands (Mistaya, Pippi and I spent time on The Bay of Islands while Peter flew to Texas, to speak at a university. Our middle daughter (Tabitha) flew back to Canada from Queensland, a month earlier, as she didn’t want to miss any more school). It was a peaceful, quiet time filled with natural adventures. We hiked and kayaked. The jungle was amazing with many ancient, tropical plants and friendly birds.
Kayaking Waitangi River
We rented kayaks on Mother’s Day and kayaked up the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. The wind and currents at the mouth of the tidal river proved very challenging! I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever reach calmer water. After struggling against the current, we finally reached the narrower river passage. We stayed a way from shore as it was tricky maneuvering past the mangrove roots.
The tide retreating from the mangroves of the Waitangi River
We spent a day hiking through the rainforests that line Waitangi River.
The rain forests of New Zealand are spectacularity lush. While hiking under the dense canopy of ancient trees, I instantly recognized the natural patterns in the forest, from ferns, trees and roots, as the human-copied patterns that I’ve seen on Polynesian art. It occurred to me that the ancient designs on Polynesian houses, tools, canoes,and costumes were directly inspired by the forests in which the Polynesians lived. It was a profound moment! I recognized real, natural forest patterns and instantly linked them to historical art that I’ve seen in museums all around the world.
True art is the ability to take one’s perceptions of the natural world, press them through the mind’s unique filter, and then express them in an aesthetic way that enables others to share the artist’s experience of the natural world and thus be closer to understanding the shared consciousness of all life.
NZ rainforest life is not something to fear. Until humans arrived with dogs, cats and pigs, the birds of New Zealand lived a happy, carefree existence. This open attitude still exists and I had many encounters with curious, friendly birds in the rainforest.
New Zealand has its share of spectacular spiders!
The Bay of Islands
-While in The Bay of Islands, we used the town of Paihia as our home base.
Historic town of Russel, Bay of Islands
Mistaya & I @ our favourite Auckland coffee house.
After our rural, slow life at the Bay of Islands, we boarded a bus and took a bumpy ride through farm land and were tossed into downtown Auckland life. Our arrival was at night and we figured we could walk the ten blocks with our luggage to our hotel. What we didn’t know, was that the ten blocks were straight up an insanely steep hill. It was torture!Our suitcases were BIG and filled with all our world possessions after spending 3 months living in Brisbane.
It was surreal to experience Auckland in the fall. Our hotel was in the Auckland University district. Auckland in the fall brought back many memories of my time as a university student, rushing to class, along narrow paths, lined with historical stone buildings, stepping through fallen golden leaves. The massive, ombu trees and sprawling fig and palm trees alerted me to the fact this was not my past calling, I was in South Polynesia.
Auckland Toi O Tamaki (Art Gallery)
During our final NZ week, Mistaya left for Canada and Peter (he returned to present @ U of Auckland) joined Pippi and I in NZ.
We boarded ferry from Auckland for Rangitoto Island:
We spent our last day in NZ hiking up Rangitoto Island. It is a pest free sanctuary for birds and also the most recently erupted volcano in new Zealand (erupted 600 years ago).
The crispy lava landscape of Rangitoto
The Forests of Rangitoto
A view inside the mouth of Rangitoto volcano:
View of Auckland from Rangitoto Island
Friendly, quail-sized birds at the top Mnt. Rangitoto:
View of various islands from Mnt. Rangitoto:
New Zealand: curious, wild, and
one of my favourite places on Earth!
As we left Auckland, the final time, our conversation with the uber driver, pointed out how insane our travels had become. He asked as where we were going and how long we’d been in New Zealand? We answered that we’d been in Auckland for a week this time and that we were going home, to Canada, via Los Angeles, and that we’d come to Auckland via Tahiti, and before that we’d been in Bora Bora, and then before Bora Bora, we’d stayed in Tahiti, and before that, we were in New Zealand for a week, at the Bay of Islands, but that Peter had also flown to Texas and back during the week we were at the Bay of Islands, and before that we’d come from Brisbane Australia!
It was a crazy time and also an unbelievably, wonderful time and I am ready to pack my bags and head out to explore the globe again! 2017 was a beautiful year of world travel and adventure and here’s to bringing in another beautiful year, 2018!