2nd December. We have to repeat the date consciously, a temperature around 20° C tempts you to forget the season. Right after breakfast I call my parents at home to wish a nice first advent. My mother reminds me that the first advent only starts tomorrow but we already reached tomorrow! People at home are snowed in, it is frosty. We enjoy another day in perfect weather and decide to take the other direction today, to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands.
Kerikeri is a typically stretched town with one main crossroad and shops and behind that circuitous dwellings. The historic center can be found a bit out of town, at the bay. It consists of a remarkable old stone building, the old mission, and a handful of old wooden buildings – that’s all. It just takes half an hour to see everything including the Maori Pa. What I think worth seeing is the reconstruction of an Maori village with some huts and a large canoe amongst other things.
As there is still enough time we take a walk on the track along the Kerikeri River to some impressive waterfalls. We really love that path, we feel like walking through an enchanted forest from time to time.
On our way back we take another route leading us to a Kauri forest. Gernot pilots me along kilometres of gravel road right through the bush. The poor car – but it’s worth it. In Manginangina Scenic Reserve you can walk a 390m loop paths trough a very old forest. We see some of the remaining few Kauri trees. We are deeply impressed. The Kauris are growing high up into the sky, it feels like standing in a cathedral of trees.
Without respect for this precious heritage many of the Kauris were chopped to create farmland. Other trees became victims of the gumdiggers after digging for gum became more and more difficult. If you hurt the Kauri bark the tree will produce the valuable resin for protection. The gumdiggers just climbed up the trees and hit holes in them everywhere. Finally the trees were so weak they just fell over.
Again we are alone, nobody here but us. So we can take the occasion to just sit still and listen. Besides a New Zealand Robin unhurriedly wiping his plumage in the sun we don’t see any other birds.
We also don’t see one the detested possums. As in a lot of other places in New Zealand they also installed traps in Manginangina Scenic Reserve to cope with this plague. Though meanwhile there are said to be about 70 Million possums living on the islands you actually see them knocked over sticking flatly to the asphalt. Possums have originally been imported for their furs, but this project completely got out of control. As a matter of fact they still combine sheep wool and possum fur to soften the final product.
In the evening the time has come to pack our things, our days in Cooper’s Beach have already passed. We leave our holiday cottage with one eye laughing and one crying. We really felt comfortable, apart from the problems concerning water supply and apart from the ants launching themselves on every crumb in the kitchen that you carelessly forget to wipe away.