Tag: Sun

Makara Beach

Makara Beach

Makara Beach, New Zealand – June 10, 2018

A couple of weekends ago, as Leslie and I were driving to the parking area for Red Rocks, I saw a sign that piqued my interest; “wind turbine.”  The words were on a sign in the Brooklyn neighborhood.  It was a brown sign which implies an attraction.  I wanted to go for a walk, and I thought that might be interesting.

I began to look at Mr. Google’s map to see the location of the wind turbine. After I found it, I remembered seeing a wind turbine farm from the air when returning from one of my trips. I thought seeing several wind turbines at one time would be more interesting than just seeing one. Looking around some more, I stumbled upon the town of Makara and Makara Beach. Since I love to walk on the beach, I decided that was the place to go.

Leslie did not feel like going with me, but she said I was welcome to go.  I hopped in the car, told TomTom where I wanted to go and pulled out of the driveway.

By road, Makara Beach is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) from our home.  The route TomTom chose sent me through the suburb of Johnsonville.  When I reached Ohariu Valley Road, it was like I had left urban Wellington 100 kilometers behind.  I instantly found my self in a green, fertile valley dotted with horse, cow, and sheep properties.

Several kilometers into the journey, the road name changes to Takarau Gorge Road. The emphasis should be on the word “gorge.” The road narrows down to the point that two vehicles can barely pass each other. There are several spots where the way is really only one-lane wide. At several locations, painted on the road, were the words “one-lane bridge.” I thought to myself that was an understatement since the entire way seemed to be one-lane. Regardless, even passing several cars driving the opposite direction, I made it through the Takarau Gorge unscathed.

The gorge is visually stunning. The Makara Stream adds to the picturesque feel of the canyon. If there had been places to pull off the road safely, I would have taken several photographs.

As I negotiated the final curve in the road before I saw the ocean, I noticed the house on the curve had a fence completely covered in paua shells. Since Leslie and I have such a fondness for paua shells, I knew I would need to photograph the fence. But first, I thought it was much more prudent to get a cup of coffee.

About 50 meters from the beach, I saw the Makara Beach Café.  I drove to the beach, made a U-turn, and parked in front of the café.  I was not quite sure if the restaurant was open, but then I saw several people with motorcycle helmets standing near the entrance drinking coffee.  I got out of the car and walked to the service window.

The nicest woman, Philippa, was at the window. She took my order for a long black. While she was fulfilling the request, she talked to me about photography (she saw the camera around my neck). She also helped me hone my pronunciation of Makara. There was a distinct difference between her pronunciation and mine.

Philippa at the Makara Beach Cafe.
A portion of the Makara Beach Cafe patio. Note the motor scooter through the door, waiting to begin the rally.
Receiving my long black, I sat at one of the picnic tables in the patio area to enjoy the coffee. I noticed there were some repairs to the building underway. It was not until I returned home that I understood just what was happening. Back in late February, cyclone Gita made an unceremonious appearance on the west coast of the North Island. In a photograph on the Makara Beach Café Facebook page I saw just exactly what that meant (it is worth clicking on the link to see the devastation). Rocks from the beach and huge driftwood trees were tossed along the main road of the town, well past the café. It was apparent from the photograph that a lot of work went into returning the area to some sense of normalcy.

When I finished my coffee, I decided it was time to walk back to the home with the paua shell fence. As I walked the short distance, I noticed the people I had seen drinking coffee. They were standing near a group of motor scooters. I was able to work out that they were all participating in a rally. One by one, they came to the starting point, waited for the signal, and then departed the town. I continued my walk, took a couple of photographs, and then returned to my car to get my tripod.

House with the paua shell fence.
Detail of the paua shell fence.

I walked the few steps to the beach. Looking north along the coast, I did see the wind turbine farm. However, when I looked in the other direction, it appeared there were more photographic opportunities. I started off to my left.

View from Makara Beach toward the Makara Walkway.

Not far down the trail, I saw a sign. Two different Makara Walkways were delineated on the poster; one followed the coast while the other wound its way up the hillside to a World War II gun emplacement. I decided the upper route was the one for me.

About 400 meters along the trail, I stopped at a rock pillar formation. It made for an interesting subject for some photographs. After another 250 meters, I was at the point where the trail splits. Along the way, it was easy to see that Gita had compromised the path. At some places, there was no trail left, only the rocks of the beach.

The rock pillar.
The rock pillar and the wind turbine farm.

Heading up the trail, I soon came to the opening of a small valley. At the top of the valley was a lone wind turbine. I am not sure why there was only one while across the bay, there was an entire farm of wind turbines. During my stop to take some photos, a man and woman passed me. I ultimately turned to follow them. Soon, I came to yet another fork in the trail. The couple had gone left. I decided to go right.

The trail rose quickly. I stopped several times to wheeze. Ultimately, I made it to the top of the rise. The view from there was one of the best I have seen during our travels in New Zealand. I found myself on a reasonably steep clifftop. The cliff and hills continued toward the south. I could easily overlook Cook Strait and see the South Island. From my vantage point, I was mainly looking through Queen Charlotte Sound, toward the town of Picton.

The South Island in the distance.

I was interested in continuing the climb toward the wind turbine and the gun emplacement. However, the rock scrabble trail at this point looked a little iffy. Instead, I decided to concentrate on my photographs. I decided I would descend back to the fork in the trail when I finished with my camera work and continue up toward the wind turbine. As it turns out, when I got back to the fork, I was a bit tired. I also thought Leslie would be wondering why I was gone so long. With that in mind, I opted to walk back to Makara.

Arriving back in Makara, I decided to stop at the Makara Beach Café again to get a bottle of water.  Philippa was still there.  She sold me a large and wonderfully cold bottle of water.  She is representative of the many Kiwis we have met, so very nice and friendly.

As I strolled back to my car with water in hand, I noticed a sign across the street that was not there when I arrived, “Makara Art Gallery.” I decided to cross the road and check it out. That was a pure stroke of luck. The art is by artist and illustrator Helen Casey. When I walked into the gallery, I saw several of her pieces on display. While I was looking, Helen entered the gallery. We began talking about her work and what precisely an illustrator does.
Helen Casey in her gallery.
“Itchy” the seal. The work reminds Leslie and me of a seal we saw itching its back on a rock at Red Rocks.

Helen has done work for magazines, books, and art at several of the New World supermarkets. The work she had on display at the gallery is some of the most unique I have ever seen. She combines gesso, graphite, and varnish into some fantastic, textural pieces. Two pieces caught my eye; a gannet at the beach and a seal on a piece of driftwood. After quite a bit of conversation and thinking, I opted to purchase the seal on the driftwood. It connected with me, and I am sure with Leslie too. It is on a piece of driftwood. Both of us like driftwood. We have collected a lot while we have lived in New Zealand. Both of us love seals. Some of our best memories of New Zealand will include the seals at Red Rocks and Cape Palliser. That meant that piece was destined to be our favorite piece of art from this beautiful country.

Helen packaged the artwork.  I put it in my car and turned to head home.

In my opinion, the town of Makara is a must-see location!

A panoramic view of the main street. Compare this to the photograph in the hyperlink to the Makara Beach Cafe Facebook page.
Another view of the main road.
The town of Makara is partially visible on the far right. The wind turbine farm is just across the bay.
The wind turbine farm on the opposite side of Ohariu Bay.
View back toward Makara.
The view back across Ohariu Bay from the point where the Makara Walkway forks.
A single wind turbine.
A father and son sitting, looking across Wharehou and Ohariu Bays.
Wind turbine.
Makara as viewed from the point, across Wharehou and Ohariu Bays.
Looking along the coast, one can see the lone wind turbine.
View across Wharehou Bay II.
View across Wharehou Bay.
The grassy trail leads to a viewpoint of the wind turbine farm.
View toward the south along the west coast of the North Island. The South Island is just across Cook Strait in the distance.
One can just make out Ohariu Bay in the center of the photograph.
It was windy, so the wind turbine was definitely in motion.
The wind turbine atop the valley.
The rock pillar as seen from up above on the trail.
Toward Makara Beach.
The bays and the wind turbine farm.
Otaki Sunset

Otaki Sunset

Otaki, New Zealand – February 6, 2018

We were on the road shortly after breakfast.  We departed New Plymouth on our way to the visitor center at Mount Taranaki.  It was a very cloudy morning with scattered showers.

There was virtually nothing to be seen of Mount Taranaki when we arrived at the visitor center. There was not a piece of it visible. The clouds were thick. So, all we could do was look around the visitor center.

Back in the car, we set TomTom for Otaki Beach.  One of my colleagues at work owns a bach (summer home) there.  He was kind enough to allow us to stay there.

After nearly four hours of driving, we arrived at the bach. It sits directly across the street from the beach. It was so relaxing there, especially after some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of driving. I was beaten. I enjoyed being by the ocean and watching the spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Otaki Beach.
Sunset at Otaki Beach 2.
Sunset at Otaki Beach 3.
Sunset at Otaki Beach 4.
Gannet Safari

Gannet Safari

Te Awanga, New Zealand – January 31, 2018

I guess one could say Napier is our favorite city in New Zealand since we visited thrice.  One of our favorite spots to visit in the area is the gannet colony.  So, with my parents in tow, we drove from Napier to the Gannet Safari headquarters.  It is a short drive, maybe 20 or 25 minutes.

We departed headquarters on a bus at about 09:30. In less than one kilometer, the bus turned from the highway onto the private road to Robertson Lodges.  These are exclusive accommodations.  They range in price from around NZ$1,000 per night to NZ$13,500 per night.  The 18-hole golf course there is currently ranked as number 16 out of 100 by GolfDigest.  To play 18 holes is about NZ$495 for non-New Zealand residents.

Robertson Lodges is the brainchild of Julian Robertson, a hedge fund billionaire.  He bought the roughly 6,500 acres (2,630 hectares) at Cape Kidnappers for his lodge and golf course.  In New Zealand, instead of calling it a sheep farm or ranch, it is called a station.

As one approaches the lodges, one enters a wildlife sanctuary.  Robertson is working hard to bring back indigenous flora and fauna to the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand.

Shortly after passing the golf course, the four-wheel-drive bus diverts onto dirt roads.  Manuka trees line the dirt road.  I had not paid attention before, but the manuka trees are the flowering trees from which bees ultimately make manuka honey.

At roughly the halfway point, the bus stops at an overlook.  Our driver/guide allowed us to disembark and view the cliffs of Cape Kidnappers.  One can easily see the various volcanic layers exposed in the cliff face.  At the overlook, one can see a danger sign, warning about the danger of the cliffs.  The “railing” is much different than the railings at the Colorado National Monument.  The fences at the monument are roughly one meter (3.2 feet) high.  The railings at Cape Kidnappers are a mere 25-centimeters (10-inches) high.  One does not want to stand too close.

Cape Kidnappers cliffs.
The cliffs at Cape Kidnappers. Napier is at the far shore.

Along the dirt road, the bus passed through numerous gates.  After all, we were driving through a working sheep and cattle ranch.  Since we sat near the front of the bus, I volunteered to open and close the gates.  That made it easier for the driver/guide.  He did not have to get in an out of the bus.  Instead, I got in and out to operate the gates.

A few minutes later, the bus made a U-turn and stopped atop the mesa inhabited by the gannet colony.  All of the tourists streamed off the bus and began snapping photographs of the birds.  These particular birds are the Australasian gannets.  The adults are white with yellow and black accents.  The birds’ wingspan averages 1.8 meters (5.9 feet).  The average weight is 2.3 kilograms (5 pounds).

The colony.

The noise is quite loud at the colony. All of the birds; the adults at the nest, the chicks, and the flying adults trying to find their nest, call out incessantly. Exactly how one finds another is a real mystery to me.

The birds make their nest using sea kelp and their feces.  Yes, that does lend itself to a rather strong odor at the colony.  When the young chicks hatch, they have very fluffy, white feathers.  As they grow older, the feathers take on a mottled gray and white.  The adult male and female gannets take turns at the nest and feeding.  The adult at sea feeds on small fishes.  When the adult bird returns to the nest, the chick uses its beak to knock at the adult’s beak to induce the regurgitated goodness that is warm, partially digested fish…yum, yum!

You lookin’ at me?!

The nesting sites are very arid. There is no source of freshwater.  The gannet adults and chicks get their freshwater intake from the fish.  Additionally, they have glands that help them shed the salt they ingest from their fishing and diving into the sea.

When the chicks take their first flight, it is a roughly 2,500 kilometer (1,553 miles) journey to Australia, nonstop. That is a fantastic feat.

Walking to the edge of the cliff, one can look down on yet another gannet colony. It is much smaller, but every bit as lively. Just beyond the gannet colony is a rock formation the driver/guide referred to as Sharks Tooth Island. It is easy to see how it got its name when one looks at the shape. I was surprised how visible the island was from the terrace at our motel.

Lower gannet colony with Sharks Tooth Island in the background.

Looking to the north, one can see an alternate way to get to the gannet colony. At low tide, one can pay to ride on a flatbed trailer behind a tractor. The tractor trundles along the beach, depositing passengers near a trailhead. The passengers can then walk up the trail to the gannet colony. I must say I am thrilled we opted for the bus.

An alternate method of getting to the gannet colony.

While we were at the gannet colony, the driver/guide made some tea and coffee. He offered that with some biscuits — a lovely gesture.

On the way back to headquarters, I was on gate detail again.

Then it was back to Napier to relax.  One of my favorite parts of relaxing was watching the spectacular sunrises from our terrace.

Dropping from the sky.
Searching…searching.
The drop or the plop.
“Teenage” calisthenics.
“Teenage” calisthenics 2.
“Teenage” calisthenics 3.
“Teenage” calisthenics 4.
An intense look for the nest.
Checking the wind.
A tired “teenager.”
Preparing to drop in.
Pre-flight check.
A gannet siesta.
The younger and the older.
Intent stare.
Gannets-eye view.
“Teenager.”
Young chick.
The youngest gannet chick on the day we visited the colony.
Cape Kidnappers cliffs II.
DANGER!!
Sunrise and fishing boat…version 2.
Sunrise and fishing boat.
Norfolk Pine trees at sunrise.
Seagull sunrise at Napier.
Readying for takeoff.
Final approach.
Searching for the nest.
A “teenager” exploring away from the nest.
Taking a snooze.
Hunting for their landing spots.
The landing pattern is always very busy.
The gannet colony. The young gannet at the center foreground looks dead. In reality, it was just sleeping soundly.
Final approach.
Gannet colony and some spectators. Take note of the two seated spectators.
Lower gannet colony with Sharks Tooth Island in the background.
Gannets everywhere.
Sharks Tooth Island as seen from our motel terrace.
Art deco corner.
The art deco Haynes building.
Negotiating the landing…
Gannet landing at the colony.
Searching for Dory!
Feeding time.
Little Blue penguins swimming at the National Aquarium.
Little Blue penguin.
Seagull diving at the sun.
Seagull sunrise.
Napier sunrise.
Sun’s first peek.
New Plymouth

New Plymouth

New Plymouth, New Zealand – July 4, 2016

Sunday evening, I asked Leslie, “Do you want to go here?” While asking the question, I pointed at my computer screen.
Her response, “Where?”
“Here,” I continued to point, “New Plymouth.”
“When?”
“Tomorrow!”
“Yes, yes, let’s go!”
I completed a hotel reservation. Then we packed a couple of bags and prepared for a morning departure.

Our traveling M.O. seems to begin with a stop at Macca’s. That morning was no different.

It was around 07:30 when we headed out of town on Highway 2. After just a few kilometers, we turned west on Highway 58. We have gone that way before. However, in the past, we have veered off onto the very narrow and twisting Paekakariki Hill Road. Leslie dislikes that drive even more than the Rimutaka Pass drive. That is because the Paekakariki Hill Road makes Rimutaka pass look like an autobahn in comparison. This time, we vowed to stay on Highway 58.

Highway 58 takes one to Porirua. Just after the Paekakariki Hill Road turnoff, Highway 58 skirts along Porirua Harbour. It is very picturesque.

The highway ends at Highway 1. That transition is a double roundabout. I am not exactly sure if I negotiated the double roundabout correctly, but we made it onto northbound Highway 1 without causing sparks with other vehicles. I count that as a win! Oddly enough, even though it was the morning rush, there was not a great deal of traffic at the roundabout.

As with virtually any drive in New Zealand, the scenery was beautiful. Heading north toward Paraparaumu, Highway 1 is directly alongside the Tasman Sea. The views are breathtaking.

Just outside Ohau, I spotted Otarere Maori Arts and Crafts. I would have stopped, but it was on the other side of the road. Instead, I made a mental note to stop on our way back home.

We continued on Highway 1 until the T-intersection with Highway 3 in Sanson. From there, we continued north on Highway 3. There, the terrain began to transition from rather flat to some steep hills and valleys. Multiple sheep and cattle dotted the hillsides. Each valley contained its own creek or stream.

Just before Wanganui, we crossed the Wanganui River. The span of the bridge is around 700 feet. According to several billboard signs, there is a paddleboat that plies the river. We may return for a weekend in Wanganui and try the boat ride.
Not long after leaving Wanganui, we spotted a volcano. We knew there is a volcano near New Plymouth, Mount Taranaki. We thought that was what we saw. Not too long after that, we spotted the actual Mount Taranaki. That meant the first volcano we saw was Ruapehu which is south of Lake Taupo. We were roughly 50 miles away from Ruapehu when we first saw it.

Mount Taranaki panorama.

Continuing north, just as we entered Eltham, Leslie spotted a great view of Mount Taranaki. I stopped immediately to capture the view. I do not think my photo does justice to the stunning sight of the volcano in the distance and the lush fields in the foreground.

Mount Taranaki.

About nine or ten miles south of New Plymouth, TomTom sent me onto Highway 3A. I did not want to go that way, but I decided not to argue with the GPS. As we arrived on the outskirts of New Plymouth, it was very definitely an industrial area. Suddenly, TomTom announced we had reached our destination. I looked around quickly. I did not see the Waterfront Hotel, nor did I see the beach. We continued on the main road until I found a safe place to stop.
I pulled up the hotel confirmation email on my cell phone. I checked the address, 1 Egmont. I knew I entered that into TomTom earlier that day. I decided to go back to the finish point, following the GPS directions exactly. Sure enough, there was nothing but industrial buildings in the area. I rechecked the email. That is when I noticed the address was 1 Egmont STREET. I had earlier selected 1 Egmont ROAD. I entered the correct address. In about three miles, we made it to the Waterfront Hotel.It was nearly 13:00 when we checked in to the hotel. The woman at reception placed us in room 306. Somehow, in the short trip from the reception desk to the third floor, 306 morphed into 302 in my mind. Exiting the elevator, room 302 was just in front of us. Under normal conditions, I would have tried our key in the door, noted it did not work, and then discover the number error. However, the entrance to 302 was propped open. I assumed that was for our arrival.
We walked into 302, me pulling the luggage cart behind. It was a massive room with a spectacular terrace and ocean view. We also immediately noticed it was brutally hot in the room. The split unit was pouring out hot air. I grabbed the remote control and brought the temperature control down to about 68 degrees. I took all of our stuff off the luggage cart. We agreed that we would meet in the hotel restaurant after I returned the luggage cart.
On the way out of the room, I decided it would be a good idea to check our keys before we locked the door. I was surprised when my key did not work, even though I tried it several times. That is when I checked the key-sleeve I was given at reception. Right there, on the front of the key-sleeve, was the number 306. We gathered our things and sheepishly moved to the correct room.

After lunch, we decided to walk around a little. One site I wanted to see was the Richmond Cottage. The good news is it was just around the corner from our hotel. The bad news, it is only open on the weekends. We were in New Plymouth for Monday and Tuesday only.

The two women at the tourist information station both recommended the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Their recommendation was due in part to the unusual building exterior; a polished metal attaches to the undulating exterior surface of the building. We decided to check out the gallery.

The exterior of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.
The interior of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.
A sculpture in the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.

The gallery was just a few blocks from our hotel. It was easy to tell the building. It is so radically different from any of the other architecture around. The mirrored surface provided numerous reflections of the surrounding area. I imagine it is challenging to drive by the building at certain times of the day. The sun probably reflects directly into drivers’ eyes.
We decided to go into the gallery. The entry fee was free. In our opinion, it was worth every penny. The only exhibit that I liked was the Four Fountains by Len Lye (1901-1980). Lye is a well-respected New Zealand artist. It was mesmerizing watching the Four Fountains move back and forth. However, to our taste, the remaining exhibits did nothing for us. We were glad we had not had to pay to enter.
From the gallery, we walked north on Queen Street to the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway. We strolled along the walkway until we were near The Wind Wand. We later learned that The Wind Wand is a kinetic sculpture designed by Len Lye. The sculpture consists of a long red wand topped with a clear plastic ball. Inside the ball is a smaller red ball. The red ball lights up at night. In total, the sculpture is 48 meters (157 feet) tall. It originally opened January 1, 2000, nearly 20 years after Lye’s death. Some of the locals told us the sculpture was removed shortly after it opened due to some structural faults. The sculpture went back up about 18 months later. It was interesting to watch it move around in the breeze.

The Wind Wand designed by Len Lye.
The Wind Wand.

Our next stop was the Centre City Shopping Centre. However, a mall is a mall is a mall. It was close to 16:30. Since the sun was due to set in about 45 minutes, we decided to go back to the Coastal Walkway, sit on a bench near The Wind Wand, and watch the sunset. It was a little chilly with a light breeze. The sunset was lovely, but probably not the best I have ever seen.
Following the sunset, it was back to the hotel for dinner and relaxing.

A lovely sunset over the Tasman Sea.
A view along the beach as the sun was beginning to set.

The next morning, we both enjoyed eggs benedict for breakfast. For some reason, those seem so much better here than in the U. S.

Our destination for the day was Egmont National Park, the home of Mount Taranaki. We wanted to stop at the Visitor Centre and see Dawson Falls.

Captain Cook spotted the volcano from the ocean nearly 250 years ago. He named the volcano after the Second Earl of Egmont. Of course, the Maori had been around for some 1,000 years before Captain Cook. Their name for the volcano was Taranaki. Roughly translated, Taranaki means shining peak. Today, the National Park retains the title of Egmont while the volcano goes by the name of Mount Taranaki. Looking at a map, it is immediately apparent the boundary of the National Park is nearly a perfect circle.
Departing the hotel, it only took about 30 minutes to make it to the Egmont National Park Visitor Centre. Upon arrival, we found there were only two or three other visitors. The Visitor Centre placement allowed for some stunning views of the volcano. While we were there, the clouds parted just enough to allow for some reasonable photos of the volcano. It was amazing to both of us just how quiet it was at the foot of the volcano. We marveled at the sight for a long time on the observation deck. The volcano summit is 2,518 meters (8,261 feet) above sea level. Macabrely, Mount Taranaki is the second most dangerous mountain in New Zealand after Mount Cook. That is an astounding fact given that Mount Cook is an additional 4,000 feet taller than Mount Taranaki. Since 1891, a total of 83 people have died on Mount Taranaki.

Mount Taranaki partly shrouded in clouds.
Volcano travelers.
Mount Taranaki.
Mount Taranaki detail.

Inside the center, we talked at length with the ranger, and she told us the volcano last erupted in the late 18th Century. It was currently a 0, no volcanic unrest, on the 0 to 5 scale used by the New Zealand government to measure the activity of a volcano. That is compared to a 1, minor volcanic unrest, for the Ruapehu volcano we saw the previous day. She also provided some insight for the next leg of our journey, Dawson Falls.
Dawson Falls is near the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. To get there, we had to exit the National Park, skirt along the boundary to the south. We drove north on Manaia Road back into the National Park. For nearly the entire 50-minute drive, we were in a fog, drizzle, and light rain. Except for the toilets, the Visitor Centre was closed.
There was a wide spot in the road a very short distance from the Visitor Centre. We parked there at the same time as the rain stopped and the sun began to emerge. A sign there marked the 200 meters (650 feet) trailhead to Dawson Falls. The well-groomed trail descended from the road including 35 stairs on our way down to an observation platform. That platform provided an excellent view of the falls. However, that did not satisfy me. I wanted actually to go down to the base of Dawson Falls.
Leslie agreed or stubbornly asserted (the reader may choose) to go to the base of the falls with me. Little did we know that meant an additional 178 stairs. Luckily, the last 100 or so had a handrail. That said we encountered a total of 213 stairs on our way to the base of the falls. That rivaled the 261 stairs we faced at the Stairway to Heaven.

After the stairs…
Dawson Falls.
Dawson Falls II.
Dawson Falls III.
Dawson Falls IV.
Dawson Falls V.
Dawson Falls VI.
The path to the falls.

Dawson Falls drops about 18 meters (59 feet). At the base, a lot of mist swirled around with the wind. Regardless, I had to take some photographs. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have seen.
So, how did we get back up to our car? One step at a time! That is when we counted the stairs. When we arrived at the car, we were both tired, but we were also both thrilled we had made the trip.We were very close to the small town of Stratford. We decided we would stop there for a late lunch. On our way up to Dawson Falls, we had noticed a sign advertising possum products. We wanted to stop there on our way to Stratford. We did see it again and stopped. We were at Environmental Products NZ Ltd., Possum Fur and Leather Shop. Possums in New Zealand do not look like possums in the U. S. They are Australian Brush Tailed Possums. Introduced to New Zealand in the mid-1800s, they have become a pest, destroying much of the ecosystem of New Zealand since they have no predators.
Environmental Products use possum fur and leather to make a host of products. One of the most predominant products are sweaters made with a combination of possum fur and merino wool. Try as she might, Leslie could not find a sweater she liked. However, we did depart with one pair of socks (I can testify to their warmth and comfort) and a pair of gloves for Leslie.
We continued into town and had a very mediocre lunch. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap, happy hour, and dinner, in that order.

The next morning, we departed for home after breakfast. This time, I was watching for the Otarere Maori Arts and Crafts store. Sure enough, just outside Ohau, I spotted the store again, this time on the left side of the road. That made for easy access to the store and then back onto the highway. Inside, a wonderful Maori woman talked to us about several different Maori items in the store. We fell in love with a wooden tiki face. It is hand-carved. It will always remind us of Aotearoa, the Maori word for New Zealand.

There’s an elephant in the building!
Birds flying along the shore.
400 Volts.
Sheep on the paddock in front of a house.
Mount Taranaki as seen from New Plymouth.