Where am I?

Dilmah Again?

May 10, 2006 at 12:01 PM | categories: New Zealand | View Comments

Next on the Kauri Coast highway is Tane Mahuta. This is the big one.

tane mahuta parking tane mahuta: you are here

But what would a walk among the kauri be, without a wooden footbridge? Oh wait, there's something blocking the path. I hesitate to say anything bad about the NZ-DOC, so I'll assume that this is perfectly safe. Coming around the corner, I see Tane Mahuta. kauri footbridge fallen tree tane mahuta He's big. He's old. He's suffered some damage through the years.

tane mahuta plaque tane mahuta trunk tane mahuta damage tane mahuta canopy After paying my respects, I climb into the Rattletrap and head north again. It's been a long day, and I have at least another hour of driving before I reach Opononi, where I'm spending the night.

Opononi and Omapere are two beach towns on the Hokianga harbor. They run together, more or less, and the Lonely Planet lists both together with the subheading "population 630". I believe that could be stretching the truth a bit: I never saw more than 63 locals. However, they're lucky folks: it's a beautiful spot on the map. hokianga harbor trees in hokianga hokianga harbor

hokianga harbor hokianga harbor

I stopped at the Opononi Lighthouse Motel (NZ$90). The charming ladies who run the place had refurbished it to modern standards, but kept the 1950s kitsch. lighthouse street view lighthouse unit lighthouse unit view

The view from the back was also pleasant, and the tea was Dilmah, of course. I'm beginning to suspect a trend: is this really New Zealand, or have I wandered off to Sri Lanka?

dilmah lighthouse back view

The day ended with a beautiful sunset, and I walked up the road to dine at a nearby hotel (seafood and coconut-milk curry, with a nice gewurztraminer). There wasn't much nightlife, so I woke early the next morning and found that the harbor was even prettier than yesterday.

sunset 1 sunset 2

hokianga harbor - morning hokianga harbor - morning

So what's next? I haven't made any plans yet, but there's nothing else north of Auckland that really interests me. So I start driving south again, taking a few pictures along the way. At one point I stop to stretch my legs, and discover that the goat's got loose again. goat homestay northern landscape northern landscape northern landscape northern landscape

northern landscape last kauri As I wave goodbye to the last roadside kauri tree, I stop for gas and casually dump about a liter on my fleece jacket. The NZ petrol stations don't use vapor recovery nozzles, so it's easy to start the pump without getting the nozzle firmly into the tank. And for the rest of the trip, my jacket will smell like 91 octane unleaded.

After that, I enter Auckland traffic and get stuck for about an hour, working my way south toward Hamilton, where I stop for a late lunch. I decide that I can reach Otorohanga tonight, see the kiwi house in the morning, and then go on to Waitomo, Taupo, or Napier as the mood takes me.

I reach Otorohanga around 16:30, and check into the Palm Court Motel (NZ$85). It isn't as nice as the Lighthouse was, but it'll do. The sink is large, so I soak and rinse and soak and rinse my stinky fleece jacket. It doesn't help.

So I leave everything to dry, and go to the Thirsty Weta for a great peppercorn steak. I also pick up some yoghurt at the woolworth's, for breakfast: there's dilmah (again!) at the Palm Court, and the local yoghurt is mouth-puckeringly tasty.

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