In Taupo, which is in the centre of the North Island, I took a sailing ship, called “Fearless”, to go out on the lake.
There was just enough wind to allow us to sail, but the lake surface was calm. Though there were half-a-dozen other people on the boat, once the engine was off everyone fell quiet and we were lulled by the gentle rocking and the creaking of the ropes.
This great face is that of a High Priest who sailed to Aotearoa, (New Zealand), during the 13th century Maori migration. The facial tattoos depict his genealogy.
On the rocks beside the face are other carvings, two of which are of Taniwha, or guardians. These are in the form of lizards, (though they can be dragons or other creatures), one with one head, protector of the carving, and the other with three heads, protector of the lake.
In the afternoon I took the walk to the Huka Falls, on Waikato River. Although this is one of the most visited tourist spots in NZ, I managed to do nearly all of the walk without meeting people. There are hot springs along the way -too cold out for me to want to go in. Then the river narrows dramatically.
My next stop along was Napier, which has fine examples of Art Deco buildings, due to the fact that it had to be rebuilt in the 1930’s following an earthquake. Many of them have been compromised by the addition of modern shop fronts, but nevertheless there is much to appreciate .
I was staying with another Servas host, a remarkable woman called Winifred. She is approaching ninety and has numerous health problems, but manages a garden with a sizeable vegetable plot, bakes, makes marmalade, organises meetings. . . Up until last year she was still teaching the Suzuki method violin, in spite of arthritis and Raynaud’s disease. With her I met a group of Servas members at a “potluck” lunch and went to another symphony concert.
As a result of the lunch, I spent two days with Trim and Kevin, who live in Havelock North and helped me to get to Hawkes Bay, known for its colony of gannets. There is a walk along the beach, past looming cliffs.
For a couple of hours I followed the traces of the tractor which you can take as far as the upward path to the birds, as well as a few footprints in the sand. For the last half-kilometre, however, the only way onwards was by scrambling over high rocks and wading thigh deep in the sea, buffeted by strong winds. I had been told that the low tide would last for another hour, but that I should turn back when the tractor left. The driver of the tractor said they would go in five minutes. The wind had kept the water high against the rocks and now the tide was on the turn. I had seen small groups of gannets and terns on the way, and was truly worried that I wouldn’t be able to return along the beach, so paid to sit on the trailer back. Happily, back at the car park, a charming French couple agreed to take me to Havelock North, where I assured them they would find a café. So all ended well, even if I didn’t see the bird colony at the top of the cliffs.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Trim and Alex. I had a comfortable suite to myself, ate good food and we discussed all manner of things. I hope they read my blog from time to time. Hard to say goodbye, but I’m looking forward to exploring Wellington.