November 17

This morning, Dan helped Pavla and I clean the hostel so that we could head out early to go to the West Coast. I wanted to visit Hokianga before I left Northland and Dan and Pavla offered to come since they didn’t have to work until 5 pm. We were able to head out by 11 am and we made our way West toward the sea on the opposite side of the island. The two things that we were more interested in seeing were the sand dunes and the bay at Hokianga Harbour and the giant Kauri tree called Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest.

We were so happy to get out of Paihia for the day that we were excited by the towns that we passed through (although still small, they actually had businesses like Subway!) We arrived in Hokianga and enjoyed the views of the ocean and the sand dunes across the bay (and unsuccessfully tried to take a good selfie of all three of us).

We hiked up to a couple of overlooks. Although the day wasn’t overly beautiful, the views were still excellent! It was great fun to be able to spend the day with my friends, before I left Paihia.

Next, we headed into the Waipoua Forest to see the giant Kauri tree Tane Mahute. I can’t even describe how enormous this tree is. In fact, it is the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand. These pictures don’t really do it justice. Kauris are extremely old trees and this one is said to have been alive for nearly 2000 years. The height is about 51.5 metres and it is 13.8 metres around. There are boardwalks near the Kauri trees because walking on the shallow roots can kill them. There is also a disinfectant pad that you have to step on before entering the forest. This is supposed to stem the spread of any tree harming disease or invasive species.

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After we visited Tane Mahute we decided that we needed to stop for lunch. On our way back to Paihia, we stopped at a hotel/restaurant along the way. Pavla and I got a stonegrill special. We didn’t realize that this was raw chicken and lamb kebabs placed on a 700 degree (Celsius, I’m assuming) stone. You cook your own food. It was delicious!

Of course, we had to treat ourselves to some ice cream after lunch. We had some excellent Tiger Time (if you remember, this is the one that Lindsay and I loved so much!) It was a fabulous day out. I will miss Dan and Pavla so much when I head out. It is still amazing to me how quickly you can become close friends with the people that you live with. I have learned so much from them. Pavla recently told us about a traditional Czech Easter celebration (she is Czech) where men show up on womens’ doorsteps and whip the womens’ bottoms with a willow cane that they braid for the occasion. She claims that it isn’t too hard (not like being beaten) and that it is supposed to be a good thing because it guarantees fertility for the next year. The women then give the men dyed eggs and send them on their way. (Dan and I laughed very hard when we learned about this.)

When I leave on Friday, I will be heading to a new woofing job at a hostel in Taupo. I have committed to a two week stay there, but if I like it then I will stay longer. I don’t need to arrive until November 22 so I have a few days to make my way down there. Dan’s coworker, Zhoel, has invited me to come visit him in Waipu on my way.

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