Day 12 - Tuesday

Dargaville Travel Blog

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It rained all night. In the morning I went to visit the Trounson Kauri Park and took the walk in the rain. What’s a rainforest without rain? Oh that would be a forest I guess…But anyway, it was a very nice forest but the rain put a damper on my birdwatching. I did see one bird and it was a new one for me, a tomtit, so I can’t complain.

I had a eureka moment on my trip to Tiritiri Matangi on Thursday. I remembered that you don’t have to leave from downtown Auckland, so I changed my departure point to Gulf Harbor, north of the city. Now I won’t have to go into the city again with the campervan. Yay.

My next stop were the Kai Iwi Lakes. It was pouring rain so not much use going there. I did see a flock of California Quail. Then I drove south and took another detour to Baylys Beach. Again, nothing of interest. More uneventful driving until I got to Matakohe. I saw signs to a museum there and decided to stop. It was the Kauri Museum and it was excellent. It told the story of the kauri timber trade and then the kauri gum trade. Kauri gum is like amber. It oozes from the trees then is fossilized.  Someone discovered that the fossilized gum made an excellent varnish and so there was a huge market for the stuff. Gumdiggers dug in swamps and forest to get to the ancient forests hidden underneath and gather the gum. Many kauri trees were cut down in the process. They made beautiful wooden ships, furniture, houses even. The museum has a huge indoor display area with whole logging and sawmill operations depicted. There are collections of gum pieces that people had donated to the museum. There is even a slab of wood that was taken from the vertical center a large kauri tree that lays sideways in an exhibit hall. They show a comparison of that trees girth with the huge ones and it’s not even close! But still it is impressively big.

The museum was a nice diversion from my drive. Of course I had to buy some things made of kauri and a piece of the gum. Next I went to the town of Pahi. Since I remember absolutely nothing about it, it must not have impressed me much. I decided I would aim towards Parakai. It looked like it had a nice location and some thermal baths. So I went through Wellsford and Helensville with only one diversion at Omeru Scenic Reserve. Omeru had two rivers that were both running muddy and high. Good thing I wore my boots! I was tired by the time I got to Parakai about 3:30. Unfortunately, the only place in town to park the campervan was at the Aquatic Park. This was by far the worst place I had stayed to date. It was rundown and needed some care. More than half of the trailers there looked like they were somewhat permanent residents. I took a dip in the pools which were warm but heavily chlorinated I think. I took a shower and still smelled of chlorine! The lady at the desk told me a place called Black Pete’s was under new management and supposed to be pretty good so I headed there for dinner. Sigh….

I got a steak. A Scotch Fillet they call it. Not sure what that cut is but it was very tasty. Sadly, what they did to it was criminal. On the menu it was the fillet mignon, served wrapped in bacon with a mushroom sauce. Okay sounds good. They cooked up the steak (which was very tender) then topped it with a couple pieces of bacon and a salty canned mushroom sauce. The seafood chowder was also a nice thought but only so-so too. Oh well…

I called it a night and didn’t even do my usual wrap up report.

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photo by: sissanoel