Wh? F that.

One of the interesting things about the history of New Zealand is the Maori language, and it’s integration with New Zealand’s culture today. Many of the towns and cities have traditional Maori names, though it seems more prevalent on the North Island than the South Island. It’s taken me a bit of getting used to being able to pronounce some of the names, because looks can sometimes be deceiving. One of the main ones that you come across is words using ‘Wh’. The Maori language doesn’t have the letter ‘F’, so ‘Wh’ is used to create an ‘F’ sound. Naturally, I had been getting this wrong for quite some time. So when I had been describing my skydiving experience in Whangarei, I had been saying ‘WaynGahRay’, and getting quizzical looks from time to times. Someone finally informed me that the proper pronunciation is more akin to ‘FaynGahRay’.

I’ve gotten used to it by now, so when passing through a place like ‘Whakatane’, I can properly say the name as ‘FakahTani’. Say it out loud and you might understand where this post title is coming from. ūüėČ

I’ve now travelled from Tauranga,¬†past Whakatane and am at my next host stay in Opotiki. The drive itself¬†was fairly uninteresting: lots of flat land and beaches. Pleasant but nothing too noteworthy.¬†The town of Opotiki¬†is at the far east end of the Bay of Plenty, and the host I’m staying at has a small acreage just outside town. Looks like I’ll be doing some yard and outside cleaning for the next few days at least – not bad sounding, since the forecast is 16-18C and sunny for the foreseeable future!

New Zealand or…the tropics?

I’ve now moved onto the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand. The drive itself yesterday was uneventful, reminding me a lot of some places in Canada. Lots and lots of pine trees. After dropping Tania 30km from civilization at the town center of Tauranga and saying our goodbyes, I continued on to my next stop – Mt. Maunganui. It’s right beside Tauranga, with Tauranga being more the working city and Maunganui being the tourist/vacation spot.

I arrived yesterday and was greeted by the usual grey and showers/drizzle that have punctuated my free days far too much. I did get the interior of my car cleaned (had been meaning to do that for a month!), dinner cooked and a movie watched, but that was the extent of a uninteresting, grey day.

Today heralded a much better scene – vibrant blue skies and a bright sunny day. Thank god/gods/flying spaghetti monster! Easily the nicest weather I’ve had in a week. And I had a goal – ascend Mt. Maunganui.

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Dig hole on beach. Sit in hole. Feel the warmth.

The morning today started of innocuously enough¬†as I got up early and went for a hike. The place I’m staying is really rather enjoyable – it’s right on the beach.

There is always something a bit special of being able to wake up and walk less than 2 minutes and be stepping into the ocean. Anyways, I did a typical 2 hour hike or so. This one was quite a good work out, with lengthy ascents and descents and at one peak I got a good view back of the small town of Whitianga:

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The 309

The drive from Coromandel Township to Whitianga isn’t too far – barely 40km by highway. But highways aren’t always the best way to see the scenery. That requires a bit more off-roading – and it actually is a short cut, only 33 kms. On mostly gravel roads. Which in actuality takes nearly an hour of driving. The road less travelled is the 309 Road – it gets¬†the name because it has 309¬†corners. So much for a short cut!

Realistically, the weather for most of the drive was pretty unimpressive once again, clouding the mountains and the trees in dreary grey. I scrapped plans again for another peak hike – this time Castle Rock, a 2 hour ascent. I did make a stop and hike for the Kauri grove in the forest area – one of the better ones I’ve seen and shows off the size of the trees compared to surrounding vegetation/trees.

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Rain. It makes things wet.

Hiking plans dashed again. The weather just doesn’t seem to hold much promise some days. That being said, during my 3 hour drive from Auckland to Coromandel, I did figure out an alternative.

My original grand idea was to hike The Pinnacles,¬†a mountain smack dab in the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula.¬†It’s peak gives a commanding view of both sides of the peninsula as well as everything else around. It’s supposed to be a great hike (6-7 hour return), tough but doable. But I knew when I awoke in Auckland that I wouldn’t be doing that climb today – nothing but clouds, rain and mist. I was *not* about to hike yet another peak without getting to see anything from the top! Instead, I opted for a detour to the Karangahake Gorge – and I was glad I did.

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Closing the Loop

I’ve now circled back around to Auckland where I’m staying for the day, doing such exciting activities such as picking up mail and cleaning laundry.

And eating copious amounts of sashimi.

Tomorrow morning I hit the road again – this time heading to a major tourist destination for Aucklanders during their summer vacations – the Coromandel Peninsula:

More hiking awaits me there. I had considered giving camping a shot, but there is apparently another cold front moving through for the next week. I don’t really want to be car camping in 3C…I’ll wait for just a wee bit warmer temps.

Sunday Market

Before I get talking about my adventure to the market today, I’ll play show and tell about my work during my stay here. While I did various odd jobs such as fruit picking (including climbing an avocado tree – something it turns out I’m not overly good at), fire wood collecting/carting, fruit cleaning, cookie baking¬†and other odds and ends, the majority of my time was spent in here – the raspberry enclosure. This is how it looked before I started:

And after about 3 days of work, the weeds were removed, the ground was cleaned and the raspberry bushes were pruned.

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The weather really plays such a big role in the enjoyment of one’s day. When I went to the north end of Muriwai beach, it felt a cold, desolate place. Part of this was likely due to the weather because when I went 30km further south, to the town of Muriwai, the beach here was spectacular.

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