Nipped around this bit just before the tide came in

Cookie walking, lava flows

CookieThis is an old lava flow that we’re walking along, apparently the top end of New Zealand used to be a separate volcanic island which has been joined onto the north island by the ocean currents pushing sand up the coast. There’s certainly plenty of sand about.. Gets everywhere! 

Giant Kauri Trees

Kauri tree

Stone Store & Kemp House, KeriKeri

Stone Store & Kemp House, KeriKeri

Helena Bay – Skullduggery & Cannibals

Helena Bay

NickyA snap decision to follow a road to the sea for a lunch break brought us to this beautiful little cove, with turquoise waters lapping the sand and picnic bench – ripe for cheese and cracker action, and a snooze in the warm sun. Sweet!

A silver haired local beach bach owner came over to check out these strangers ;) And we got to nattering. Turns out his great grand father lived there and had come over from Scotland in the 1870′s. There were all sorts of fascinating tales told, but one was of him as a child, merrily digging up human skulls in the eroding sand near the edge of the beach – each with spike holes in the top. Blimey! Creepy stuff. But not as bone chilling as the next story… His great grand father had told of ‘the last great feast’ on the headland in front of us, that lasted for 3 weeks. He’d “heard the celebrations, and then the screams every night as the tribe took their victims from the cages, cooked and ate them! “… Well … I nearly bloody choked on my cheese and crackers I tell you!! Blimmin ‘ek what do you say when someone says that with sincerity? My mind was boggling as we walked on up the hill… Pretty gobsmacked. “Hello. Nice day isn’t it. Oh by the way, see that spot there? People used to eat each other there… Hmm.. I think it might rain later eh.”

I took these revelations with an extremely large pinch of salt of course, (!).  

Some things the people you meet allude to can take us by surprise, to say the least! But in general the more of New Zealand we explore, the more we begin to glimpse some deep rooted feelings and very complex relationships between all the peoples of this beautiful country. It’s going to be a hard one to fully understand.

Longest pedestrian bridge in the southern hemisphere!

Longest pedestrian bridge in the southern hemisphere!

CookieThis bad boy connects Whananiki North to Whananiki South, over an estuary. Unfortunately it was low tide when we crossed, so the size of this massive footbridge seemed a bit wasted on the small stream in the middle..

Egg Trap!

Egg Trap

NickyNo possums in here :) Since coming across all those possum corpses before I’ve learned a bit more about why they are considered such a pest here. I didn’t realise but other than stripping trees of leaves they apparently raid the nests of all the rare and endangered native birds. A lot of the areas we walk through are Kiwi bird conservation zones so there are no dogs allowed for the same reasons. Every area features these trap boxes. I expected to see a piece of cheese in there like in Tom and Jerry cartoons! But the possums are partial to an egg for breakfast. And who can blame them I guess. I was tempted to have it myself ;)

Dacre Cottage

Dacre Cottage

NickyOut of nowhere this tiny wee house popped up. Built in the 1800′s by a family from Sydney it’s a preserved and newly restored historic site.

I was a bit dubious about the water from here after I drank it as I felt a bit rough the day after. But as Cookie rightly pointed out it was our longest day so far so it was more likely the shock to the system of walking 17miles haha ;)

Our Mate

Our Mate Marmite

NickyI’m packing Marmite as a special luxury for this section. And it’s bloody amazing. So I’ve tried to pay tribute to it’s taste bud boggling qualities by shooting it a soft focus vignette portrait…

I’m picturing a piece of history here. When Marmite first came to these shores in the handbag of arrogant chef Captain Cook, he had no idea that the Maori had already invented it hundreds of years before. ‘Marmite’ in NZ comes in red cylindrical pots. So poor old Pomme Marmite is relegated to the name Our Mate… It’s just not cricket is it!

Interesting rock round here

Nicky on Top of the Pinnacles

Chairlift up to Knoll Ridge

Chairlift up to Knoll Ridge

CookieWe’d read that New Zealand’s highest cafe at the end of this chairlift had burnt down last year. Looks like it’s been re-built already, and a pretty huge and impressive cafe at that! Still needs a bit more work, but seemed to be open.