Dear diary #3

14.09.2018 Miranda

After leaving the shorebird center, I’ve spent this week with Celia and Victor, helping them with their tasks 4 hours each day. In return, they offer me accommodation and food; that’s called wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms), even though I use a different website, HelpX.

I did some water blasting, removed some branches (and some cow poo) from the fields, emptied sheds… In the afternoons, I worked on my pictures and wrote on my blog. It was an interesting experience to be part of a new household for a few days.

On this last evening, we went to eat fish and chips in Kaiaua. Tomorrow I’ll hitch-hike to Coromandel Town, before a new helper stay in Hahei, on the other side of the Coromandel peninsula.

15.09.2018 Coromandel Town

It took me two hours, and three different drivers, to arrive to Coromandel Town. From Thames, the road wound along the rugged coastline, or climbed steep gradients to get to a pass and dive again on the other side. It was truly spectacular, and I saw a large pod of dolphins in the water. I checked in at the Anchor Lodge: ok for a night, but the facilities at the backpacker (the kiwi word for “hostel”) are not great.

I walked the Kauri Block Track, where I learnt about kauri trees, and the efforts made to save them. Along the paths, traps are laid to capture stoats and other predators to give kiwis a chance to survive.

Further, in Long Bay, another track took me to a 1200 year-old kauri tree, a giant of the forest that dwarved all its neighbours. It was so massive, I couldn’t fit it in the frame. I wished there had been someone else nearby, to give a sense of scale, but I was alone.

16.09.2018 Hahei

I woke up early for sunrise this morning, but the sun didn’t show up. I was on the roadside at 8.30, waited for an hour before someone picked me up… that someone being a young French guy showing New Zealand to his parents after several months in the country! They took me to New Chum’s Beach, we stopped by the shore for lunch. That was quite a nice hitch-hike!

In my new hosts’ garden, I saw New Zealand kakas (Nestor meridionalis) flying over! I didn’t get excellent views of these stunning parrots, but I was happy to see (and hear) them, and I’m now looking forward to better opportunities 😀

21.09.2018 Hahei

I went to Cathedral Cove, a very famous beach, for sunrise. There, I met a landscape photographer from Sydney, we had a nice chat while we waited for the sun to peek through the clouds. I made lovely pictures.

After a week working in the garden, fixing wooden stairs, weeding or stacking wood, I’m leaving the Coromandel tomorrow, to go to Matamata and then Rotorua. My voyage carries on!

22.09.2018 Paeroa

What a trip! My second driver was a man named Anton, who turned out to have had an interesting and entertaining life. He told me of his visit to my hometown, Grenoble (and how his wife got stuck in public toilets while they self-washed), of his trip accross the Pacific ocean as a youngster, of how he met the sailing legend Bernard Moitessier in Tahiti, of how he worked illegally in American missile bases (illegally because noone checked his passport when he landed in San Francisco)…

Even better, while my plan was to go to Waihi, rent a bike, ride along the Karangahake Gorge and back, and then hitch a ride to Paeroa, it turned out Anton was visiting his daughter in the heart of the gorge, and could drive me directly there. I explored the area while he helped her with some gardening in her hostel, Riverside Accommodation, and at the end of the day, he drove me to my Airbnb. Simply awesome, thank you so much!

I’m starting to love hitch-hiking.

23.09.2018 Matamata

I got a ride from a German couple on their way to Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings movie set (aka the Shire). In Matamata, I booked my own trip to the set for the day after, then rode a bike to Wairere Falls. 15 km on a road, riding a mountain bike, with 10 kg of gear in the backpack… that’s not fun. But the view from the top was breathtaking, and I enjoyed making long-exposure shots there, then climbing down in the dark (I saw two Moreporks, the local owls).

I was happy to arrive back at the hostel, long after dark.

24.09.2018 Matamata

I visited Hobbiton this morning. Such an enchanted place, photogenic and out of time. I loved it.

I spent the afternoon working on the pictures. Tomorrow I’ll go to Rotorua.

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