NZ Land Logs 34, Year 2: North Island–Celebration in Whangarei
Date: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Weather Today: Mostly Cloudy; Short Rain in Early Afternoon
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
The Whangarei marine businesses have an association that works very hard at recruiting world cruisers to come here and once we arrive, they work very hard to make sure we know they appreciate having us here. When we first arrived, there was a dinner for all world cruisers in the Northland and today, before the masses start heading north, there was a hangi in our honor. A hangi is a ‘feast’ where the food is cooked in an earth oven. Just like a lobster bake in the Northeast US, you simply dig a big hole, put lots of hot rocks in the bottom, put the food in to roast, cover, and then wait. Today’s affair was held at noon and before eating we were honored in the traditional Maori way. A warrior is sent out to challenge the visitors, to find out our intentions. If our intentions are honorable, then the person chosen to represent us picks up whatever has been laid down as the peace offering. The warrior then retreats and we are officially welcomed and invited to follow. Today they added a piece where a member of our party (the world cruisers) was asked to speak on our behalf–to give our thanks to the busnesses and people that have been so welcoming while we have been here in Whangarei. Somehow Mark was the chosen speaker and he graciously thanked this wonderful community. Then we got to eat. At a hangi, it is traditional to have roasted pork and chicken and in Maori country you also have potatoes, kumara (sweet potatoes), roasted pumpkin, and cabbage. Before lunch we were served New Zealand green mussels. It was a great luncheon and a time to see other cruisers that we have not seen for a while. Not everyone is here right now as some cruisers have not returned from trips homes while others are still land touring, but there was a group of around 75 people. Alan and Helaine went with us and got to meet a few more of the friends we have made over the past year and a half. Right in the middle of lunch, the rain came, but many of us were eating under the tents provided and the rain ended quickly, so no one’s spirit was broken by the bad weather today.
After the hangi, we went in search of AH Reed Park. We had read in the tourist information literature that this is a kauri tree park here in Whangarei that has a very creative boardwalk high above the ground. We found the park and enjoyed our walk in the tree tops. Of course, we were not at the top of the canopy as that is where the kauris reach, but we were above the tree ferns, palm trees, and small trees of other types. We walked to a waterfall and then back to the car park. It was time to think about dinner which was going to entail a trip to the grocery store. We needed to eat early this evening as we had all decided to go to the touring circus that is visiting next to our marina.
We had another fantastic New Zealand steak and salad meal, and then Helaine, Mark, and I headed to the circus. Alan decided to sit this one out. This was a ‘one ring’ circus much like I would envision traveling circuses in the US in the 1930’s and 40’s. The acts were not polished, but it was still great fun. There was a trapeze artist with no net, a clown, a juggler, performing ponies and poodles, and even an African elephant named Jumbo. This elephant has been with the ringmaster for 30 years and both are retiring soon due to ringmaster health issues. But the ringmaster was not going out quietly. He also treated us to some tricks with his whips. In addition to seeing the circus, we got to see our friends from Jade–Cam, Arnie, and their two girls, Nancy and Molly. We haven’t seen them since Tonga, so it was a joyous reunion.
Tomorrow we take Alan and Helaine to Auckland and then return here to Whangarei to get down to boat business. Some cruisers are starting to leave already, not to head back into the Pacific just yet, but to cruise in the Bay of Islands before heading north. We are at least a month away from that, but I know the time will fly by quickly. We’ve seen a lot of New Zealand on land, but we don’t want to leave here until we have also explored her by water.
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