Northern New Zealand! Bay of Islands
We've spent most of our time in New Zealand on the South Island, so we were looking forward to visiting a northern part of the island nation, albeit for 2 days. First, we anchored offshore of Paihia, a small town in the Bay of Islands, in the far north. Unfortunately, Caroline had to work, so I was alone with my tramping. Also unfortunately, the tendering operation was terrible. We arrived at 10 AM. I got to a waiting area at 10 AM. I was standing in line until noon, then onto a lifeboat tender, getting on the dock at about 12:30. And I consider myself fortunate... there were plenty of people behind me in line.
After all that waiting, we were encouraged to get on a bus, wait for it to be filled, then transported to the town of Paihia, about a mile down the road. No way! I dodged the ship's attendants and walked along the beach. There were few people, and lots of shells at low tide.
I found a hiking trail through a kauri forest, the Paihia School Road Track, which leads into the Oromahoe Traverse. A sign warned me to be on the lookout for kiwis, but I didn't really expect to see any since they are primarily nocturnal. Still, hope is eternal!
The NZ kauri forests are suffering from a fungal disease, spread in part by hikers who transport fungal spores on their clothes and shoes from one stand to another. There were signs warning hikers to be aware of this potential contamination, as well as notices that pest control for invasive species was ongoing.
|Stay on the track! Clean your gear!|
|This type of sign, seen in many places in New Zealand, just doesn't occur in the US, where traps and bait stations are hidden to prevent vandalism.|
|You can tell from the vegetation that this area received a good deal of rainfall.|
I observed traps for rats and stoats (weasels), and toxicant bait stations for, I assume, rats. They were placed right along the tracks. Given that NZ had no native mammals other than bats prior to human settlement, there are fewer concerns about affecting native species with traps and poisons.
It was very quiet. The large trees blocked much of the wind, and I only saw 8 other people on the trail. I did see some quail-like birds (my mind initially wanted to turn them into kiwis), and I peered into every trap I passed.
As I returned on the tender lifeboat, Caroline had finished her shift and was tendering in to walk along that same beach for the hour that was left before the ship departed. Here are a couple of her photos.