It’s January 8th, meaning Christmas was two weeks ago. Are blog posts about such long-past events like eating left-over mussels? Maybe so, but since we spent the time in Northland (north of Auckland, north island of New Zealand), I thought it still worth posting a few photos. That way if anyone from NY wants to visit us, they’ll know what they can skip.
I’m not saying that Northland isn’t beautiful. Kiwis were unanimous in their exclamations; “You’re going to the Bay of Islands? It’s so BEAUTiful up there!” And I’m not saying that we didn’t have fun. Warm(ish) water and sand are a kid’s delight. But check out at that rolling pasture with the holstein cows–it just looks like home. Not super exotic.
Giant Kauri trees, however, are an exotic perk of Northland. In a few preserved spots their barrel trunks still tower over the forest floor.
Aw, a good sibling moment in the Kauri forest.
We stayed at a Top 10 campground (in a hotel unit) in Russell, a little town which, back in the day, had a reputation as a rough port town replete with the amenities craved by sailors. Read prostitutes and alcohol. The catholic missionaries labeled it a Hell Hole, but the town has cleaned up their act since then, and it’s a pleasant little tourist trap now.
Bay if Islands boasts spear-fishing opportunities for Jeremiah, and he came back one afternoon with this goodly sized fish. The kids were more impressed with their candies from the “lolly scramble,” but they paused long enough to pose for a photo.
Milo was more pleased with this fish, a pouraia. Locals turn their noses up at them saying that they’re not good eating, but we couldn’t figure out what they’re talking about. I suspect they’re just easy to catch compared to snapper, so they are common enough to be snubbed.
We spent a day or two (the overcast ones) on short hikes, including this one down to the cove where there was an old whaling outpost.
Jeremiah played endless rounds of hide-and-seek along the trail with Milo. He might whine and want to be carried, but if you offer to race or to hide, he’s all game. They had the palm fronds to carry with them, making a mobile camouflage whenever necessary.
Our camera has a funny setting where we can turn off all the colors except blue. I wonder if there is some animal species that sees the world like this.
Pohutikawa is the New Zealand Christmas Tree, flowering red in the summer especially along the coast. We saw some good specimens down in the whaling cove.
On Christmas day we took a ferry out to Urupukapuka island for some clear fishing water and calm warm beaches. There aren’t any roads, but grassy trails through pasture and scrub connect the beaches. If you didn’t look too closely at the flowering Manuka and Pohutukawa, you could imagine that this was an Adirondack scene.
This serious sand shovel was a Christmas present for Milo, and he’s proudly displaying his strength and prowess at hole-digging.
Naomi is BOLD in those waves. She runs right into the water, gasps a bit if it splashes high on her chest, and then comes back for more.
The kids’ pleasures are pretty simple, at this stage. They enjoyed the camp’s playground at least as much as the beach, and decidedly more than any scenic views. Naomi is a proficient climber, Milo bounced on those trampolines, and there was nearly always another kid or two hanging around for added interest.
I just want to say, from the perspective of self-exile to Chicago for the foreseeable future, that the dairy picture is a wonderful (exotic) reminder of home.