Saturday, 17 March 2007

The Bay of Islands

We have spent the last two days in the Bay of Islands, which lies to the North of Auckland. On the way we stopped at the Warkworth Museum and Parry Kauri park. The Kauri is a tree native to New Zealand, which lives for thousands of years and can grow to an enormous size. Kauri wood is very hard, and was at one time very sought after for masts and such like. As they take a long time to reach maturity, the Kauri forests were chopped down, a hundred or so years ago, faster than they could grow back. Today the Kauri is a protected species, so in another thousand or so years I daresay the stocks will have been replenished. We are hoping to see some very old Kauris on our way back to Auckland down the West coast, but in this park there are two Kauris which are 600 and 800 years old respectively. Here is the 800 year old one, with Mr Knitbert underneath it for scale.
We looked around the Warkworth museum shop and I found a little hand made bag with a sewing kit in matching fabric, which is just perfect for socks, all costing a princely $8, which is about £3 photo of bag. On the subject of socks, I have started another pair. These ones are the Father and Son socks from Interweave Knits Fall 06, and they are for Mr Knitbert. I am knitting the two together on two circulars, which is going quite well so far, although I did knit three sides of two socks onto one needle while we were driving along (Mr Knitbert was driving of course, dear reader!) and the thinking required to sort this out made me begin to feel sick, so I had to stop until we reached our destination. However, it is all sorted out now.

Today we visited Paihia, just up the road from where we are staying, where we caught a ferry across to the town of Russell. This was once the major trading port of New Zealand, but after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, the government and trading activities moved to Auckland, and today Russell is a charming, island paradise with wooden houses, surrounded by water of an intense blue green, and with lots of very nice restaurants and craft shops.

In Russell we visited Pampollier, a restored building originally constructed by French Catholic missionaries in order to print and bind bibles in the Maori language. We were able to see how this was done, and what hard work it must have been. The restored house has a beautiful garden and orchard.
Next we went to Waitangi, where the Treaty between the British government and the Maori people was signed. The treaty grounds have been made into a park and conservation area for the New Zealand people and visitors, and you can see the house in which the first official British Resident in New Zealand, James Busby, lived with his family.
There is also a Maori meeting house

and a fabulous Maori war canoe, which is also in the photo at the top of the blog. I took this photo last time we visited New Zealand, and today we took several more. The boathouse is right on the edge of the water and is a lofty, peaceful place with a view across the bay.
The Bay of Islands is a beautiful, sheltered harbour surrounded by sandy beaches and coves. It is still warm here and it feels like summer in the Mediterranean - in fact this part of New Zealand is at 35° S, which is a similar location to Morocco in the Northern hemisphere. It has to be one of my favourite places in the world.
Tomorrow we head back to Auckland, and I hope will be able to see the Kauri forest, in which case I shall have more Kauri facts and photos for you! Then, on Saturday, Catbert and DSoK the Intern arrive in Auckland to spend the next two weeks with us, and we are planning to head South to Rotorua and the South Island, after a couple of days looking around Auckland with them, of course.


clarabelle said...

The photos are lovely, Knitbert!

You are obviously having a wonderful time (don't know how you manage to fit in any knitting?). My uncle lives in Christchurch and he's always on at me to visit him (ok, not like I can just jump on a bus from the UK but your photos have got me going!).

Knitbert said...

I'm glad you like the photos Clarabelle! It is a long way to travel, but it is such a beautiful country, if you have the opportunity I would go for it! We will be visiting Christchurch later in this trip, it is a lovely town.

Christina said...

ooo, I didn't realise you were going to be blogging from abroad!!! this is the first time I've looked on here - doh ;) You look like you're having a fantastic time, I love the photos. And the hederas are brill!!

Queen Frogger said...

Another great travel post! Thank you. The Bay of Islands looks lovely.

Purplegem said...

It's great to see that you are both enjoying your travels, and brilliant to see photos too.
Much better than a postcard!

Aknita said...

What a wonderful time you continue to have! The photos are great, and your diary makes great reading too because you are sharing it all with us while everything is still fresh in your mind! And yes, so much better than a postcard!

gilraen said...

Oh I so wish I was there! My favourite place in the world! Enjoy the rest of the Islands! :)

Fiona said...

Thanks for the holiday update - it's hailstoning here! I like the little historical snippets you're including too.

Knitbert said...

I am having a wonderful time, thank you all for continuing to look in on me! This is a beautiful country, with so much to see, and we are fortunate to have family here who have been so welcoming. Mr Knitbert and I don't really want to go home,but that is another story!