After the first night spent in Auckland we drove to the very north of New Zealand, the region called Northland. Going there we hoped to find some more warmth. BTW, in the southern hemisphere many things are different than north of the equator. It gets warmer when you move north, the sun shine in the north at noon and moss grows on the south side of the trees etc.
Upon reaching our camping place it turned out it was still pretty cold. But what should you expect now that the winter has just ended here. In Poland during spring frostbite and snow fall is still common. Having driven 1000 km already we have been surprised with the flora of northern NZ. Palm trees, bamboo, yucca and other subtropical plants. Besides you see everywhere the ubiquituous ferns growing even on trees looking like little palm trees. Speaking about the plant life I must mention the mysterious and giant kauri trees. Long time ago kauri grew all over Northland. Today they can be seen in just a few places such as Waipoua Forest. With their girth reaching 16,5 m they make other trees look like matches. Their smooth bark makes them look like completely naked. The oldest of them, Tane Mahuta, is 2000 years old!
* For full version of the slide presentation please refer to the Polish version of this post
As far as eyes can reach we can see only pastures and meadows with grazing sheep. In NZ sheep far outnumber the people. What is striking is that we have not seen a single arable field with crop so far.
Camping in NZ turns out to be more challenging than in the US. Though there are shower here (cold water only), there is not a single bench or picnic table in sight. After a few days of sleeping, eating, homeschooling all in a horizontal position the back is hurting. Apart from the toilets and and water spigots there is virtually nothing else. The prices for such a luxury are quite steep NZD 22 – 50 (USD 18 – 40) depending on the location. The campgrounds are almost completely deserted, despite Rugby World Cup. Those who come here live in camper vans. We have yet to see somebody else camping in a tent like we do.
These camping discomforts are compenstaed by incredible peace we can experience here. The Northland beaches feature blinding white sand with flour-like texture. Roaming the kilometers of the coast we did not see a single scrap of development nor a piece of garbage, which would be often the case in Fiji.
Northland, in particular its northmost tip, Aupouri Penninsula, has some magic to it. According to local, Maori, beliefs, it is the site from which spirits depart toward the spiritual homeland, Hawaiki. At the end of the penninsula there is a picturesque Cape Reininga with a beautiful lighthouse. Below the cape and an intriguing phenomenon can be observed, i.e. the turbulunt mixing of Tasman Sea with the waters of the Pacific.
A pole with distances to a few select places in the world reminds us again how far away from home we are.