#10 - whangarei & diving at poor knights island, tutukaka

Whangarei Travel Blog

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The Whangarei protest/march/rally I participated in to save their harbor!

*****DAY TEN (Friday, December 12th) - WANDERING AROUND WHANGAREI*****
So, I effectively had a police escort to Whangarei this morning.  Chris Scahill kindly offered to drive me down there...so I was technically in a cop's car...just not one with sirens & all that jazz.  Anyway, it was such a nice drive down and I was excited that I got to spend time with Chris.  He had meeting with the police department there that day, so it worked out so well!

I was meeting up with Kevin Horst...a friend of Nina's (Nina is a friend of Lyndee's!).  Nina taught with him at Boulder and when I told her I was going to New Zealand she put us in touch.

My Whangarei tour guide & fellow Save Our Harbor marcher, Robyn.
  Kevin is a teacher, so he was still in school when I arrived.  He was so nice and called his friend, Robyn, and asked if she wanted to have coffee with me that morning.  So, I wandered around the town a bit and then met up with her at Town Basin.  It's the area of Whangarei where people live on their boats!  Robyn and I had a flat white (YUM) and then she told me about a march that was happening that day to "Save Our Harbor".  There was a measure that was about to be passed to make it ok to dump overflowing sewage into the harbor...and the folks of Whangarie obviously were not fans of that.  So, next thing you know I was a part of the march chanting "1,2,3,4 - we don't want your mess no more....5,6,7,8, - save our harbor before it's too late!".
1,2,3,4- we don't want your mess no more. 5,6,7,8 - save our harbor before it's too late!
  We marched down the streets of Whangarei and ended at the public library where they had several people speak.  They handed the mayor a petition with 5,000 signatures & then the mayor made the mistake of trying to speak.  It didn't seem like he was the most popular guy with this crowd. It actually got a bit uncomfortable at one point, with this really big guy yelling at the mayor & interrupting his speech.  Then, the highlight for me was that  6 year old boy got up and read the letter he wrote to the council to protest the dumping of waste in the harbor.  It was so great....I actually got tears in my eyes listening to him. 

After my politically active morning, Robyn had to go - so I just got some lunch and sat by the water.

Kevin's horse, Gigi, enjoying some pumpkin seeds.
  I caught up in my journal and took a little snooze until Kevin met me there.

Kevin and I then went to go feed his horses....and that's where I encountered my first sand fly bites.  FUN.  I have about five on my ankles now.  :)  Other than that, it was fun to see his horses and to check out the farm.  Definitely not something that would have been on the typical tourist bus!

That night we met up with some German friends of his.  He teaches the kids - Marius and Nickolai....and their parents, Claudia & Marcus were in town as well.  They are considering moving to New Zealand...that's why they sent their children to school here.  Apparently the boys are not big fans of NZ because Whangarei is "boring" and they didn't like the all boys school (I think boring is related to the girl situation!)  Anyway, the boys want to go back to Germany & the parents want to move here.

Dive Tutukaka! Best dive shop ever. :)
  They obviously have a lot ot figure out.  Anyway, we had a delicious dinner at Amici's (not like the Amici's in San Francisco!) and it was really nice to meet their family.  Such a great group!  They ended up coming back to Kevin's for some tea after dinner & I had a very nice time hanging out with them.

I was definitely exhausted after that day & wanted to get to bed & get ready for our next day of diving!!!  I was so excited!  :)

*****DAY ELEVEN (Saturday, December 13th) - DIVING AT POOR KNIGHTS!*****

We got up today at 6am to get ready to head out to Tutukaka (yes, it really is Tutukaka!).  The drive out there was great...so beautiful and it was actually much closer than I thought!  Kevin and I were the first ones there and we got all ready for our trip.

These are my fins.
  I couldn't believe it though - I FORGOT my dive card & my dive log!  What a dork.  I made such a point to bring both with me & I just forgot them at Kevin's!  Luckily, there's a database of PADI certified divers, so they were able to pull that up!  :)

I had such a wonderful day of diving!!!  I took a "refresher" course since I hadn't been in 4 yrs (you know, fill your mask with water - clear, do the "out of air" drill, take your regulator out, etc.)  Since Kevin had never been diving before he was going to do a "discover" dive....they paired us up & were going to have just us two go with a divemaster.  It turns out he wasn't comfortable diving that day (I do not blame him actually -- -they went a bit quickly for someone's first dive!)  So, it was actually just me and Kerrance (the dive master) for my first dive.

Yes, that's me driving the boat.
  How awesome for it to just be the two of us!!!  Every other group had about 6 or 8 people - so I felt very lucky for that first dive.  We saw some gorgeous stuff...lots of stuff on the walls (encrusted is what I think they call it), nudibranks, eels & then the COOLEST part of the dive was when we were *literally* in the middle of a school of fish.  Every single way we looked, it was ALLLLLLLL FISH.  I loved it! 

The second dive was great as well - althougth I was a bit colder the second time going down.  I didn't think about the whole "SUB" part of "sub-tropical" - it definitely was not warm weather diving.  I really enjoyed getting the hang of diving again though and I will definitely try to go again in Australia or Thailand or something! 

On the way back, Sam (the skipper.

Hanging with the Dutch crew from the boat. The day was GIZELLIG! (that means "cozy/warm/comfy" in Dutch).
....um...the cute skipper), let me drive the boat back.  Not like it was that complicated, but it was fun!!

Then, one of my favorite parts of diving....drinking beers after!!!  It was the most beautiful day so we sat outside with some other folks from our boat and had a few beers.  It was "gizellig"....a dutch word I learned which means cozy/comfy/etc.  I told them it was such a perfect day I wanted to grab it (or bite it. :) ) and then they told me that word!!

After beers, the German family (I wish I knew their last name so I didn't have to keep saying "the German family"!) met us for dinner.  It was perfect.  We literally started our day with coffee at Schnappa Rock (the restaurant right next to Dive Tutukaka) and ended it with drinks & dinner there!  Dinner was DELICIOUS!!!!  Kevin and I split two fish dishes that were so fresh and yummy.

Cheers!!!
  I always feel bad eating fish after spending all day looking at them...but hey, what can you do!

At the end of dinner, I did my second "interviews" with Claudia & Marcus.  We had been talking about Obama/the U.S./the economy, etc so I asked them if I could film them. They were definitely into it.  It was great!

So, we ended up basically closing down the restaurant. We were the last people left by 11pm or so, so Kevin and I hit the road back to Whangarei.

WHAT AN AWESOME DAY!!!!!

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The Whangarei protest/march/rally …
The Whangarei protest/march/rally…
My Whangarei tour guide & fellow S…
My Whangarei tour guide & fellow …
1,2,3,4- we dont want your mess n…
1,2,3,4- we don't want your mess …
Kevins horse, Gigi, enjoying some…
Kevin's horse, Gigi, enjoying som…
Dive Tutukaka!  Best dive shop eve…
Dive Tutukaka! Best dive shop ev…
These are my fins.
These are my fins.
Yes, thats me driving the boat.
Yes, that's me driving the boat.
Hanging with the Dutch crew from t…
Hanging with the Dutch crew from …
Cheers!!!
Cheers!!!
Dinner with the German family!  Cl…
Dinner with the German family! C…
The Tutukaka harbor.
The Tutukaka harbor.
Heading out to Poor Knights Island.
Heading out to Poor Knights Island.
SO happy on the boat.
SO happy on the boat.
Me & Kevin.
Me & Kevin.
A very attractive shot getting rea…
A very attractive shot getting re…
My view from the boat when I was b…
My view from the boat when I was …
Sam (the real skipper) and me by o…
Sam (the real skipper) and me by …
Restaurant by the dive shop - we h…
Restaurant by the dive shop - we …
Me & Kevin Horst, my Whangarei hos…
Me & Kevin Horst, my Whangarei ho…
Our wine for the evening.  Loving …
Our wine for the evening. Loving…
YUM!  Fresh fish!  (kind of ironic…
YUM! Fresh fish! (kind of ironi…
Full moon over Tutukaka.
Full moon over Tutukaka.
Another attempt at a full moon sho…
Another attempt at a full moon sh…
This is for you Kendra!  Its basi…
This is for you Kendra! It's bas…
Gigi and Greyboy.
Gigi and Greyboy.
Whangarei
photo by: shirlan