So I was whisked away to Kaitaia, the last real town before you fall off the tip of the North Island. Cape Reinga, the last piece of land on this island, has huge meaning for Maori people. Legend goes that it is the last place that spirits leave from on their way to the "other" side.
Below: Vid to show you the scope of the view from Pauline's land
On the way back, we stopped by a mineral lake that is known for it's healing qualities. The water is yellow and red and really cool. Kids were slathering mud on their skin. The mud was so black, it looked like crap, really. And interestingly enough, the name of the lake refers to crap. Forgot the name and stupidly I forgot to charge the battery on my camera before our trip so I only got a couple shots of Kari Kari. I took pictures of the lake with my phone, but I don't know how to transfer it to the computer! I know, I'm pathetic with technology, but I don't have the cord that connects the two together, so sorry guys, no pix from this place.
Anyway, I spent a couple of nights burning cds for Marina and Pauline for their return to Australia. On the Monday morning, they were to leave, but the weather proved bad and their flight was canceled.
Marina and Pauline on the morning they were supposed to leave! They're like brightly colored parrots! Gotta love the energy!
As a result, we went on a little road trip to visit Moana's husband's grave and see where her family's land is located.
On our way, we stopped at Houhora, the last village before the end...and the last tavern as well!
New Tavern (I like the old one better!)
Afterwards, Mihi wanted to show me White Sands. Below a video and explanation.We hung around there for a while. The ladies did some fishing off the rotting pier and I went for a little look-see in the area. It was low tide and I found some really cool rock formations.
During high tide, most of this rock is under water.
The rocks look almost carbonized. Strange...and beautiful.
Along 90 mile beach
And Mihi continued to feed me amazing food!
Green-lipped mussels cooked in butter and garlic! Delicious!
I had been talking about my extreme disappointment in the quality of food in restaurants in New Zealand and I finally had a sympathetic ear. According to Mihi and her family, the best places to eat in New Zealand, are not in restaurants, but rather in people's homes. And let me tell you, there is no greater truth than that. I've eaten great meals in the Bay of Plenty, when I ate at the Fothergills, great meals in Hastings (thanks to Shani and her father), and great meals in Kaitaia (thanks to Mihi). Apparentely, because the restaurant industry here is not very good to the chefs, they tend to leave the country and find work elsewhere. Many chefs go to Australia to work and New Zealand is left with... not much. Mihi herself stopped working in the kitchens, turned off by how things were run.
So for any of you wanting to eat really good food, and really good seafood, go to people's homes. Knock on their doors if you have to! They'll let you in and give you a feed! (kiwi expression. They use the word feed as a noun) Go up to Northland, (the real north!) because seafood is the staple. It is such a way of life that we went to 90 mile beach one evening and went "hunting" for tuatuas (clams). I'd never done that before! It was so fun to go out and get your own dinner. Just like catching the snapper, this was another one of those experiences that'll stay with me forever. And no other clam dish I've had could ever be as good as that night!90 mile beach on a stormy tuatua picking evening...don't you just love the light!
Moana, Mehi and TakiTaki hunting for tuatuas
Below: A Vid on 90 mile beach and low tides
Below: Wanna know how to find tuatuas? Watch this vid!What we caught/found for that night's dinner!
Below: An experiment egged on by Mehi!
On my last day in Kaitaia (the day before I was to leave for Auckland and meet up with Shani who would take me back to Hastings), Mihi took me to Kauri Kingdom, a stop-off for tourists where almost everything in the giftshop is made from Kauri trees. You guys remember how incredibly big those trees were? Well look some more!
A Kauri tree trunk in the middle of the shop
From the other side! You can actually walk up it!
Below: In my excitement, I forgot that I couldn't rotate the vid and shot it sideways. Sorry!
A carving reminiscent of Lord of the Rings made from a Kauri trunk. Impressive!