Thursday with beaches, birds and kuari trees

Dargaville Travel Blog

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Muriwari Beach gannet colony

We picked up a rental car this morning and left Auckland for a two-day trip to the north part of the North Island.  We wanted to see some of the countryside before meeting up with our tour group on Saturday.  Part of the excitement of the drive was the requirement to drive on the left:  my husband drives, I navigate and yell “Stay left” at appropriate intervals.   We not only didn’t run into anything, we didn’t lose any of the original dimensions of the car (what is known among many of our friends as a Mullaney mirrorectomy).

 

Auckland traffic is very congested so we were happy to get on highway 16 and escape to the North and West easily.

the Tasman sea at Muriwari Beach
  After a few false turns we arrived at Muriwai Beach which is on the Tasman Sea facing towards Australia.  This side of the North Island has black iron-rich sands, rough surf and a craggy coast line and Muriwai Beach in particular is known for having a gannet colony.  (Gannets are called Takapu by the Maori and are a large gull-like bird.  They’re a protected bird and, considering their fishy smell if you’re downwind of the colony, not something you’d want as a food source anyway.)

 

Muriwai Beach was almost deserted except for one lone surfer, a guy on a ATV and us.  We climbed around on the cliff paths for awhile and then drove on north.

Gannet
  Even though the speed limit was 100km/hr, the road was narrow with many tight turns and it took us much longer than expected to get to Dargaville.  I’d planned on going up to Opononi and staying on a motel on the beach.  It was obvious that we’d never get there before dark if we wanted to stop and see anything, so we got a motel room in Dargaville.  (I have to admit that part of the reason we stayed in Dargaville was the great lunch we had there.   We stuck around.)

 

During the afternoon we drove on to the Waipoua Forest Park which has kauri trees, a magnificent tall native tree that once covered much of the island before logging began in the 19th century.  One large tree, over 2,000 years old, is called Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest).  There are also alot of cabbage trees and large fern like trees in the subtropical forest.  Everything is a lush green and even the air is scented with a sort of cedar-like smell.  In the background is the constant sound of the cicadas.

 

After hiking thru the forest, we retreated to Dargaville and dinner.  Later that night we could see the Southern Hemisphere night sky pretty well since Dargaville is a small town and there isn’t much light pollution.  It was strange to see the Milky Way but recognize none of the other star patterns.  It was beautifully clear.

X_Drive says:
I like your description of driving on the left side. It's something I hope to get a chance to do someday. Hope I have as much luck as you and your husband did. :)
Posted on: Mar 13, 2007
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Muriwari Beach gannet colony
Muriwari Beach gannet colony
the Tasman sea at Muriwari Beach
the Tasman sea at Muriwari Beach
Gannet
Gannet
Gannet on cliff
Gannet on cliff
Approaching Murwai Beach
Approaching Murwai Beach
My husband near a cave at Murwai B…
My husband near a cave at Murwai …
Muriwari black sands
Muriwari black sands
Landscape
Landscape
This shows the size of the fern tr…
This shows the size of the fern t…
Kuari forest and my husband
Kuari forest and my husband
Leaf patern on tree fern
Leaf patern on tree fern
Kuari tree
Kuari tree
North Island landscape with cattle…
North Island landscape with cattl…
Landscape in the center of the Nor…
Landscape in the center of the No…
More landscape - still ascending
More landscape - still ascending
Dargaville
photo by: sissanoel