Friday, December 4, 2015

Bay of Islands

Before we headed out into the Bay of Islands to do a little touring by boat, we did a little north island driving in the are the locals unimaginatively call Northland. Now New Zealand is a small country. The land area is a little larger than the state of Oregon. The population is about 2/3rds of the population of Washington state. Even though the country is relatively small, they claim some big trees. This is giant kauri tree that is named Tane Mahuta – in Maori it means ‘Lord of the Forest’. You can get a feel for the size once you realize that the white and red dots at the bottom of the photo are people looking up at the tree. Its only about 168 feet tall, but the girth, the distance around if you were all holding hands, is about 45 feet.
kauriIMG_3298  We, of course, had to stop at a local pub for lunch after a morning of tree hunting. The bar decorations added to the ambience.  They do a lot of wild pig hunting here.
nzpig If you want to know more about pig hunting in NZ, then you really should subscribe to New Zealand Pig Hunter magazine, its all the rage:
boiIMG_3314 We finally picked up anchor and headed to the small town of Russell in the Bay of Islands. This was the center of decadence during the days of whaling ships. It was more known for its brothels than its churches but I figured our conservative reader of this blog would much prefer to see a picture of the first church in New Zealand. The grave yard had a lot of dead captains and crew along with a few graves of Maori chiefs who worked on the side of the Brits during the wars of the 1800s.
boiIMG_3335  If you’ve hiked around the San Juan Islands in Washington or the Gulf islands of Vancouver you’d think this is the same place. Lots of well maintained trails on the islands that are part of the park system.
boiIMG_3352 The native fern trees shade the trails nicely.
This is a stoat trap. These little weasel-like critters were introduced into New Zealand in an attempt to manage the introduced rabbits. Problem is that they just love the eggs of the NZ ground birds, such as the flightless kiwis. You can see a brown egg in the trap here used as bait. Many of the islands in the Bay of Islands have had their non-indigenous 4 legged creatures eradicated and have had the flightless birds reintroduced. Originally, the only mammals in NZ were bats- hence the evolution of the flightless birds here.
 stoat A stoat posing for a Wikipedia article.
New Zealanders are sailors if they are nothing else. This is the 85 foot R. Tucker Thompson bringing tourists out for a ride on the bay.
boiIMG_3372 We climbed a small hillside trail so I could go check out the World War II era rusty stuff. This was a protected observation post for viewing the bay entrance.
boiIMG_3368 More Pacific Northwest scenery- in New Zealand.
A mom and baby cormorant, or as they are called here, a pied shag.
A variable oyster catcher. I had go look up what an oyster catcher eats: “Variable oystercatchers eat a wide range of littoral invertebrates, including mollusks, crustaceans, and annelids”.
boiIMG_8314 We got together with some other boatie Yanks to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was really hard to decide when to have T-day. Should we do it on the traditional Thursday, or wait till Friday our time so it would be Thursday in the states? We compromised and did it on Saturday. Our hosts were Nancie and Art on Second Wind. Martin and Lexi on Pau Hana and Pete and Miranda on Tayrona joined us in the potluck feast. We stuffed ourselves, in the best Thanksgiving tradition, and then walked it off in the old town of Russell, finishing with a beer at the little local yacht club, the Russell Boating Club with a bunch of locals.

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