Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Across the Kerikeri Inlet

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

The river flows to the top of the Rainbow Falls

Rosemary and a lovely Kauri tree

A pair of tree huggers

Boardwalk equals length of cut tree section

Ahipora Beach

Sylvia’s Comments.

Today (Wednesday) the island is closed to the public but Jill had told us yesterday we could stay as long as we wished so we decided to have another walk around the island to see the views in the morning light. After a very heavy rainy night the morning was looking very bright. On the way down to the track we met Dave who enquired as to our success at last night’s kiwi hunting trip. Sadly we had to inform him that we had not seen or heard any kiwi and had got quite wet for our efforts. He thought this funny and said that he had not heard any kiwi either, nor had he seen any for a few days.

Once on the path, and when we saw all the places we could have tripped over tree roots, we became amazed that we managed to get around it twice with only a couple of mishaps. As we walked along we got some good views over the Kerikeri Inlet and back towards the town itself. We also saw plenty of fresh evidence that the kiwi had been about at some time last night. One of the distinctive signs of the presence of kiwi is the small circular holes s in the ground where they insert their long beaks in search of food. There was also evidence of the earth being moved around by their big feet as they scratched about. They must have been quite pleased we decided not to make a third circuit of the track as that meant they could come out.

Although it is not a big island and there are two pairs of breeding kiwi living here, there is still plenty of places they could have been without us being able to see them. I wondered if perhaps we were getting a little greedy having seen kiwi’s on our last kiwi hunting expeditions, thus expecting to see them each time we go out. Or more likely on our last couple of occasions we have had expert kiwi finders with us who knew what they were doing. Last night it was just us two who thought we knew what we were doing. This morning we made the deviation on the track to the observation platform over the inlet where we had been told we would see some fish. As we arrived on the platform the noise of our footsteps frightened one large fish from under the platform into the mango swamps. We just managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of him as he made for cover.

As we were nearing the campsite the rain started again and we managed to run for shelter under a large tree and wait out the shower. It was a heavy shower and it was fascinating watching the rain bounce off the water in the inlet. Once back at our van we found a carrier bag of freshly picked oranges on our doorstep, a gift from Dave. It was now time to leave and return to Kerikeri to do some shopping. Wandering around the supermarket we bumped into Murray and Jennifer, from Whangaroa, seems strange meeting someone we know over in NZ. They breed Alpacas and we were invited to visit them to see these lovely animals sometime. With our shopping on board we drove to the Rainbow Falls (89 feet) and parked in the car park to view this waterfall.

There is a nice walk from the Stone Store along the side of the Kerikeri River to the falls but today we did not have the time to do that so we just did the ten minute return walk to the viewing platform. There are three areas from which to view the falls and it was on the second platform we realised why they are called the Rainbow Falls. From here we were standing a little way behind the falls and as the sun shone through the spray we saw a part of the most magnificent rainbow of really vibrant colours. The photograph we took did not really do it justice. Next we walked down the hill to get a view of the falls from ground level and we had to wait a short while for the spray to clear before we could see them. It was now time for a quick lunch and then to continue on as we were meeting Rosemary at Manginangina which is part of the Puketi Forest where we were going to camp for the night.

Manginangina is one of the best remaining examples of subtropical rainforest forests that once cloaked northern NZ. Lying in the heart of Northland the forest has provided physical and spiritual substance to Maori people for the past 1,000 years. This 20,000 hectare forest survived early European logging and farm clearances due to its poor soil and steep terrain. Today the forest is a haven for birds, including the kiwi, native bats, the kauri snail and native plants. This makes it also a haven for walkers and nature lovers who visit to enjoy the area. We found Rosemary already on the campsite when we arrived and after a coffee we all did the one hour nature walk taking us through some lovely bush and past some of the kauri trees.

Around the beginning of the centaury huge tracts of kauri forest were destroyed and only 3% of the forest now remains. Kauri (Agathis Australis) is a conifer of great antiquity. Its ancestors arose during the Jurassic period – 150 million years ago – when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The New Zealand kauri is unique to this country but has close relatives throughout the Southwest Pacific. Kauri systems are among the most diverse ecosystems in NZ. This forest contains more than 200 species of different trees and shrubs. We will learn more about these wonderful trees when we visit the kauri museum.

Once back at the vans we were soon into ‘happy hour’ then were cooking dinner and using some of the meat we had won in the meat raffle. After this we played canasta and I was not over popular due to the fact I kept winning. Beginners luck. After such a riotous evening it was time for bed. On Thursday morning we drove to the Kauri Walk, a five minute board walk around this small grove of these lovely trees. It took us longer than the five minutes to do the walk as we just had to keep stopping to admire these wonderful tall trees. We reached a part of the board walk where a kauri had fallen in a storm. The main part of the tree had been removed in 1930 leaving the cut stump and the head in place, the board walk had been built to represent the size of the trunk. Whist we had stood under the trees and marvelled at the height of them, seeing it represented here on the ground brought it home to me just how long they are. The trunk of this tree contained enough timber to build ten houses.

It was now time to move on, today we were going to drive up SH 1 to Kaitaia and then on to Ahipara where we will camp tonight. In order not to be driving in convoy we set off before Rosemary but we did not get very far before we had to stop for a very large herd of cows to cross the road. As the farm dog herding the cows crossed infront of us he gave us a glance then began to run down towards us. We wondered if he was going to heard us like the last sheep dog had done, but another look at us told him we were the funniest looking cow he had ever seen, so he returned to the farmyard. We had just got on to SH 1 when the drivers door suddenly opened and on stopping we discovered we could not close it. Rosemary arrived shortly afterwards and leant us a close line which we tied onto the door and I held while we drove the short journey to Kaikohe to find a garage. It was not the easiest of journeys hanging on to the rope holding the door closed but we managed it with no mishap. The mechanic at the garage seemed to fiddle about with the lock (just as Jeff had done earlier) and had it fixed in no time.

Back on SH 1 we drove up through Mangamuka Gorge and over the summit at 1,295 feet, another lovely journey. We reached Ahipara and drove along looking for a campsite. There was one at the end of the bay but it was very soggy and looked as if we would get bogged down if we went on it. A couple motorhomes were camped at the far end of a soggy beach, with the tide coming in, and after inspection we did not fancy that either. Eventually Rosemary found a good place right by the beach and once we were settled our vans, we went for a walk along the beach before nightfall. Then it was back to our van for tea and tonight we played dominoes, I won’t say who won the first six games, but I was not very popular, and my popularity did not increase through out the evening.

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