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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

19th Oct – Pulling Mussels from a shell

I got up early today as I was on an all day coach trip up 90 Mile Beach, which is only about 60 miles long and we did about 50 miles. It is quite an experience driving in a combination of a lorry and a coach. Apparently the tip up nature of the lorry cab allows easier maintenance – necessary when there is all that salt water and sand about. It was quite windy, and the tide was coming in, so we drive at speed, which also meant that it was quite a bumpy ride, except when we drove more slowly through water – necessary so that we don’t get pushed by the waves into softer sand and get stuck.

Near the top end of the beach we turned off up a stream in between the sand dunes. When we reached some huge sand dunes, uncovered by any sort of vegetation (about 70m huge – the driver told me), we stopped. This was where we were going ‘sand duning. This is sledging on a ‘boogie board – small surf boardsbeack down the dune. We carried the board up the dune, the first time up sand that had no footprints in at all, and then you get on, face first and down you go. The first time I took it steady breaking with my feet,when it started to get out of control, and before I would hit the stream. The second time, the sand was a little more compacted, and I didn’t break as much, due to the fact that I took the skin off my toes the first time (delicate skin, rather than fear). And guess what – I ended up in the stream at the bottom as did most people the second time. 2 inches of water is enough to get you wet. There wasn’t a third time for most of us – the climb up the dune, with board and managing the wind was too much – a ski lift needs to be fitted!

In terms of ticking boxes, about a month ago we visited Bluff, (NZ’s Lands End). Today I visited Cape Reina (John OfGroats). This is also where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The swell on the sea was a beautiful turquoise, with plenty of white foam on top. The little lighthouse at the bottom of the Cape provides the only sign of human habitation there.

From there we drove to Gumdigers Park. There is no way I’d have ever found this place on the internet – also the findings have only been discovered in the last 4 months. Much of Northland was peat bog, and about 45,000 years ago a Tsunami hit the island, bringing down a huge forest of very old kauri Trees. Kauri trees are giants trees, reaching 30m girth,  most being between 10-15m, as well as being very tall. It is a very hard wood, and they are a remnant of when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Because the wood is hard, and peat has preservative qualities, the wood there is the oldest preserved, but not fossilised, wood in the world, at about 100-150m years old. The resin from the trees (gum) was exported to Birmingham of all places where it was made into varnish, and the profits from the business built Auckland. All that found out in a 20 minute visit – amazing.

The final stop was Manganui Fish shop for fish and chips. Doesn’t sound that exciting, but the fish were swimming this morning. Whatever the owner catches, gets fried that night. For us, it was Blue Nose (a white fish). In one day I got 4 ticks in the box, and one I didn’t expect.

As I’m, writing this, I’m looking out of the window at a sunset over the Haruru Falls, another great end to a great day.

Pulling Mussels from a Shell – Squeeze – a song about a day at the seaside.

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