After all those weeks of head down boat work we teamed up again with Toucan for another day of road touring. We’re still in the very north of the North Island but we picked a few places within easy drive miles of Whangarei and left the now fabulous looking EV at the Town Basin for another day of land roving. The weather did not cooperate.
We started at the big waterfall, the one we didn’t quite make it to on our very long hike a couple of moons ago. By car it took no time at all; by foot it would have taken us all day. That just gives you perspective on how our touring usually goes, since (a) we rarely have a car and (b) most places we go don’t even have roads to the waterfalls. We were trying to squeeze a lot of things into the day and decided to forego the descent to the bottom but rather popped back in the car and zipped to our next stop. It felt like we were on a bus tour; parking lot, photo op, restroom break, back in the car, next!
The next stop was the thing we all really wanted to do, see the kiwis. The birds, not the people. Kiwis are nocturnal and shy and nearly impossible to see in the wild. A museum/nature center called Kiwi North has an artificial habitat where day is night and night is day and you can watch the fluffy round birds dimly from a gallery behind glass. We had a few blissful moments watching a couple of kiwis foraging around their enclosed world before two school groups moved in and crowded out the peace and quiet. I felt bad for the birds all closed up like that, but happy that the children could see their national bird and learn about it. We, on the other hand, fled.
Kiwi North also hosts a wild bird rehab center and we visited the current patients. We were hoping for a tired albatross or some other rare bird but we got these guys. I don’t know what they are so feel free to enlighten us if you recognize them.
The other thing we all wanted to do was go caving to see the famous glow worms. By this time the temperature had dropped and as we parked the car a chilly rain fell and we waited out the shower in the car before starting down the muddy path toward the cave entrances. We sheltered under the trees every time the constant mist turned to rain and queried the hikers returning up the path. It’s wet in there, they said, and most said they hadn’t gone in and would come back on a better day. Only a few went the distance and they were soaking wet.
I’m not so much into caves, despite the fact that I’ve been to a lot of the famous ones in the States, both during summer vacations as a kid and around the mountain area where I went to college. But those have lighted stairway entrances and wide walkways and every stalactite has a name and the gift shops at the end sell geodes and rubber snakes. This is not that. Bruce volunteered to be our canary and climbed down the steep entry and disappeared. As we waited for him to return we made sure he hadn’t taken the car keys with him and asked Di if she could handle their boat on her own. The two people we saw climbing back out said the water was chest high in places and sure enough, as Bruce hauled himself up the rocks he panted that we were not equipped to be doing this today. We’d need waterproof footwear, a change of clothing, headlamps and helmets. Ok, so not today.
With our touring options curtailed by weather we did what every cruiser does when circumstances thwart our efforts but we’re in possession of a car. We went grocery shopping for all the heavy and bulky items that we struggle with on foot or bikes, like beer, wine, sacks of flour or paper towels. By four o’clock we had cashed in the reward stamps on our frequent buyers card at the ice cream shop at the Town Basin. We have our priorities, you know, but some sunshine would have been nice.