Sunday, August 28, 2016

Whakatane, Ohiwa Beach, and Opotiki

Last few days, last few adventures...pretty much lots of beach walking and lamb adoring. This post is mostly pictures.

We took a little road trip up to Whakatane to stay in a family batch (beach house). It was very cold because a. Winter and b. No heating. But it was beautiful weather.

Stopped by some shops and saw artisty things. Like pigs.

The first of many beaches. Now that spring is aaaallllmost starting, the weather hasn't been terribly bad, and we've had more sunny days than cloudy ones. But the water AT the beach is still freezing. So, let us observe.

Then we hiked a hill on the beach.

I did NOT do this, we just walked right past it. Naughty mirror-universe Leah. :/

I liked this part of the beach, over the hill and down the other side. It had lots of driftwood and other beach goodies for me to look at (and maybe pick up)...

These tiny muscles awww (rivals with the lambs huh) I should have put my finger up for scale, they're each about as big as my finger nail, if that. Millions of them.

And as I zoom out, some arterial sand patterns from the tide.

Once we made our way to the batch (the other beach was just on the way in town) the sun was setting and we took a nice cool walk.

On the way back to the batch we stopped at a trail. It was now full dark out, but that's what we were waiting for. Because how else would we be able to see the glow worms? So it's pretty cold, we have one head-torch between the three of us, and it's on a small trail heading into the bush. Hm. Yet I felt very safe. The largest mammal in New Zealand (that you would come across in the wild) is probably a possum. And if we found someone randomly hanging out in there, they would probably offer us tea, not murder us.

Anyway, after about twenty minutes of slow, careful steps, we spotted the sign for glow worms -->. This took us to a smaller track, and we kept going and my eyes adjusted from looking away from the small shine of Alli's torch, I started to see little lights to the side of me. I couldn't see anything else, and had no sense of any trees or cliffs, no depth perception.

I had no idea what glow worms were supposed to look like, I only had my imagination and cartoon movies of fireflies to pull from. (I've never seen fireflies in real life either.) To me, it looked like a night sky, with minuscule white star-like lights twinkling everywhere. When I tried to focus on one specifically, it sort of winked out, so you had to just look around and take it in as a whole experience. It was beautiful and unique. Of course I have no pictures, but it was nice to sit there for a while and watch the small glowing creatures.

When we made our way back out to the car at the trail head, we looked up and saw an absolutely stunning clear night sky. There is hardly any pollution, and no light pollution here so you can see what seems like an infinite number of stars and planets, and the milky way is very clear. I could stare at it forever.


In the morning, Sarah and I took another walk up the track of the previous night which continues deeper into the bush, up the side of a mountain, along the top, and then down and around to the beach to the right. It took a few hours, but it was an absolutely prefect day to explore. We had a small surprise as we went on the track, as there was some family scavenger hunt adventure race going on along the track. From seven year olds to grandmas and every age in between, they were racing through the trees past us looking for things on their map. That made the hike a little interesting. :)

The island to the right is Whale Island.

 And even more to the right is White Island, which is an active volcano.

And at the top of the mountain there were LAMBS. Yes. Sorry. Again.


We took off our tennis shoes and walked barefoot the last 40 minutes or so down the beach back to the road leading to the batch.

I found a whole sand dollar. Not pretty, but intact. We'll see if it makes it all the way home that way.

This is a beautiful Pohutukawa, or, New Zealand Christmas tree.

And on our way back to Panui we stopped in Opotiki and visited our friend Bradie. It was lovely to see her. :)


Ah! I shall miss my favorite flamboyant vampire weatherman, Dan! It's been a great two months, Dan. Keep up the entertaining work.

A couple days later, Sarah and I did some beach walking and hiking back in Gizzy. I am starting to see a pattern here with beaches and mountains.......

Then I found a hibernating mountain troll.

One last exciting event before I leave, the Gisborne Ukulele Underground! Yes! How nerdy is that? This group meets every month. They have some people sign up to do a little act (some great, some...more interesting), and in between them there are organized "strumalongs" where they post some songs on their Facebook page in advance, and then show it here on the projector for people to play along on their ukes.

It was a full house, there were about 100 people I think, and two thirds at least, had their ukuleles with them. It was so much fun, I wish I had this back home. Well, next time I will join them again.

And now I will leave you with this lovely picture of a mug that has been sitting on the fence across the street from us for the last two months.

Ka kite ano, Aotearoa.

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