NZ Land Logs 27, Year 2: North Island—Back to Auckland
Date: Saturday, March 17, 2007
Weather Today: Party Sunny
Location: Auckland, Takapuna on the North Shore, New Zealand

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. We are back where we started three weeks ago. We arrived in Auckland in the late afternoon and went across the harbor bridge to the North Shore of the city to a suburb called Takapuna. This is the location of the only Top 10 Campground in or north of the city, so we had made reservations to stay here. It was the right price, but not a Top 10 that was up to the standards to which we have become accustomed. The first apartment they put us in was just not going to work, so we tried for a second one. The problem with the first one was that one couple was going to have to sleep in the living area on a pullout sofa, but the pullout was made of a light-weight metal that had bent and sagged terribly in the middle. It was so bad that you couldn’t even sit on the sofa. The second motel unit they offered us was much better. We didn’t have separate bedrooms, but after three weeks of traveling together, that was not a problem. The second disappointment here was that there was internet, but it was not working. We explored the area around the Top 10, but we found no internet anywhere. We thought that now that we were back in a city, internet would not be a problem, but obviously we thought wrong. Mark and I actually got in the van and drove all the way out to a seaside town called Devonport. We found lots of great restaurants for dinner, but still no internet. So we decided we would have to send a log the next day and just go back and get Alan and Helaine and head to dinner. After all, it is St. Patrick’s Day and time to celebrate the Handley Irish heritage.

Now back to Waitomo Caves and the beginning of the day. Alan and Helaine went for a tour of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and then we drove a short distance to the next town of Otorohanga. This is a cute little one street town that is very representative of small New Zealand communities and the home of the Otorohanga Kiwi House. This was our stop to see live kiwis. They have escaped us in the wild, and we just couldn’t end our tour of New Zealand without seeing one of these little guys. We went in and immediately a guide ‘took us under her wing.’ The kiwis are kept in a dark room and you observe them from behind glass. We got to see a Great Spotted female named Atu and a Northern Brown male named Ipo. Both kiwis were born at the Kiwi House in captivity. Ipo, the male, was born on September 14, 1990. He shares our son’s birth date, just not the same year. Ipo is 17 and Justin is 29. Atu, on the other hand, is a just a young one. She was born on December 2, 2001, and has been on display long enough that she was not shy about coming right up to the glass close to us. Ipo has only been on display for a short time and was very shy. He kept his distance, but we could still see him and it was wonderful to watch both birds as they busily poked their long beaks into everything looking for a grub for breakfast. We were not able to get pictures of the kiwi because it was so dark and flash was not allowed. We took them anyway and just got bare shadows of the birds, but at least we got some image to remind us of our experience. Alan’s digital camera has a way to set ASA speed, so he was able to get some decent pictures. I haven’t seen those yet, but will be anxious to ‘borrow’ one to put with the pictures we upload on the website. In addition to kiwis, we got to see a huge number of New Zealand birds on display. Most were on display behind wire mesh, so again pictures were a little tricky, but we did capture some great photos of Kaka, Kea, and Pukahe, among others. We have truly enjoyed learning about and seeing many of the species of birds endemic and native to this country.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the volcanic island of Rangitoto just off the coast of Auckland. The volcano on this island is not longer active, unlike many other volcanoes in the Auckland area that are only dormant. More about that tomorrow.

070317 Web Pics–Waitomo Caves to Auckland