|A real riding stable for the hotel!|
|I never dreamed of fresh croissants in the middle of nowhere!|
Here we go again without a real agenda and no set reservations. It is a little risky, but it is now fall here and the summer is over so we are hoping that the crowds will be light and rooms available. We will see! Several people warned us about the heavy traffic going north on the weekends (hummm – I-75 heading to Harbor Springs traffic, I am wondering). Of course, the roads are narrow two-laners on winding and mountainous terrain. So we will beat the crowds out of Auckland by leaving at 7 AM as we are already 45 minutes north of the city.
As we were driving north, Dennis spotted a sign for a little
village off the main highway and hung a quick sharp left (that is what the handrail
above my door is for!). We came upon a lovely little village – Puhoi.
|Church of Saints Peter and Paul|
It is a quaint little village with a library, hotel complete with riding stables, a general store with fresh pastries brought in from an Auckland French patisserie and a couple of other buildings. Just what we needed for a nice morning snack after leaving so early!
|Local carvers make beautiful Kauri bowls and objects.|
|Lazy Susan made from slices of Kauri wood in acrylic|
There are very few remaining stands of Kauri today. The Kauri trees are the magnificent thousand year old trees that once covered the area. They were here long before man found New Zealand.
Unfortunately, as man often does, the kauri tree forests were decimated for timber to build canoes for the natives and ships and furniture for the Europeans. Today there are several stands of Kauri trees that are protected.
|There is a wonderful photo display of the Kauri era|
|The furniture is beautiful.|
|Examples of gum.|
In one wing, there are several large trunks from Kauri trees. While you cannot cut down the trees today, people are digging the old ones out of bogs where they have been somewhat preserved for hundreds of years. Artists carve both the Kauri wood and the gum in to bowls and other objects.
One of the
trunks that has been in the museum for many years was cut after it was hit by
lightning. The rings show significant dates in New Zealand history and the age
of the tree. We will continue driving north to see the real trees and the
largest and oldest ones.
|This tree is label with historical dates in NZ. It is old!|
The next stop was in Dargaville. This is where the road reaches the Tasman Sea and turns north again. Here we found a pleasant surprise – in addition to Dennis finding a seafood fast food joint! He needed another snack! But the best find was a Kauri woodcarver’s studio. His work is beautiful! And expensive, but then the Kauri wood is expensive because it is so rare today. Dennis is planning to go back there next year to take a workshop.
Finally we are reaching the Waipoua Kauri Forest area! It has been a long day in the car with a few interesting sightseeing breaks along the way. Now we are ready to hunt for the Kauri trees. The highway twists and turns for 20 kilometers through the forest so we are carefully watching for the signs marking the areas where you are allowed to walk into the forest. There are some marked tramping trails as well as the nice boardwalks that are the shorter hike.
|There was an operating sawmill section in the museum.|
|Lunch along the way. The birds had made a mess on the table.|
There are several other significant trees in the area, but we did not visit them as the sun was beginning to set and we needed to find a place to stay for the night – remember, no reservations this time. Humm – maybe not such a good idea! Just 10 km from Tane Mahuta is another area where you hike for 30 minutes to see Te Matua Ngahere, the “Father of the Forest.” This tree is actually shorter, but fatter than Tane Mahuta making it the second largest Kauri tree in the country. We saw photos of all of the major named Kauri trees back in the Kauri Museum.
|The Woodturner's Studio|
|Dennis wants to learn to make one of these.|
|Throughout NZ, they have build walkways into the forests |
to access sites without damaging the environment.
|Just to try and grasp the size of this Kauri!|
We also walked through Trounson Kauri Park to see the small but impressive stand of Kauri trees. This area has been turned into a “mainland island” or a reserve in order to protect the North Island Brown Kiwi and the result is an increase in their numbers. That is good. Unfortunately, Kiwis are nocturnal so unless you participate in the evening tour, you won’t see any.
Now we are off to find a place to sleep – hopefully not another trailer park!