|June 15 - 24, 2007
We had read about some nice white silica sand dunes that were nearby so we drove down a side road to check them out. It turned out that they were located across the other side of a bay – and that the company that ran shuttles to them only worked between November and April, nice life. So we gazed across the water at the dunes and checked out the nice free camping area at the end of the road, then continued our drive.
We stopped off at a shop called the Ancient Kauri Kingdom that does in fact collect Kauri wood that is tens of thousands of years old to make into beautiful and, sometimes, eccentric pieces of furniture. The wood is from tree trunks and stumps that fell as long as 50,000 years ago and were buried in peat bogs. The bogs create an anaerobic environment that prevents the wood from deteriorating. Then the wood is found and dug out of the ground looking as good as the day that the tree fell over.
One interesting feature of the store is that they hollowed out a trunk of a Kauri tree and carved a staircase in it! The other interesting feature is that the store has a high-pressure car wash available which we used to wash the sand and salt off the underside of the truck.
Leaving the shop, we drove on until nearly dark (about 5 pm) and ended up spending the night at a small farm that had campervan parking available. We enjoyed feeding their miniature and full size horses and looking at the llamas and alpacas.
Coming off the ferry we stopped for some groceries and found an internet connection at the back of the vegetable store.
Our destination for the day was the Waipou Forest to see the largest tract of huge kauri trees in NZ, and wow were they BIG. We were able to get in one good walk at the end of the day to the largest known kauri tree still standing. It is about 2,000 years old. We passed another walk area and saw several more huge kauri trees. The sun was then beginning to set and deep in the forest it was getting very dark, so we had to hurry back to the truck as we had no flashlights with us. We spent the night in the parking lot where it was very quiet and very dark.
In the morning we did another walk and saw lots more kauris. It is a shame that so many were cut down at the beginning of the century. This is the largest standing grove left in NZ. When we returned to our vehicle, a security guard had set up and wanted $2.00 for guarding our car, for the last half hour of the 18 hours we were there!
We continued on to the Kai Iwi Lakes and stopped early at this lovely setting. We set about doing some more of the cleaning etc. that we need to do before we head off to Australia.
In the morning, unfortunately it was raining and we weren’t able to do any more cleaning. Instead we headed off to visit our friends Murray and Shona and finish up the last minute things that we needed to do before shipping. Once again it rained on and off during the day, but we were able to complete several things in between the raindrops.
June 21-23, 2007
Up early the next morning, the sun was shining at the moment. Murray had taken the day off to help us finish up before shipping, so he and Don set to work. One of the things we wanted to do was get a bike rack so that our bikes would be more accessible. Murray had offered to build one for us, so when we were here last, he and Don worked out a design. While we were up north, Murray built it and now it was time to finalize it. It took most of the day, so the final water blaster (high pressure washer) would have to wait till the end. Kim finished up things like washing the bottoms of the shoes and clearing out the food that can’t be taken into Australia. Typically it rained on and off during the day, forcing us to constantly be moving things in and out of the rain.
Finally at about 4:30pm we were able to start washing the outside of the truck. It was a very wet, messy job and made more difficult by the disappearing sun. We did the best that we could, using the blaster, a brush and a broom to clean everything off.
Our final evening with Murray and Shona included a beautiful cheese ball that Shona had made complete with Australian flags in honor of our impending departure. Murray and Shona have epitomized the experience that we have had with the Kiwis: very helpful and friendly and we can’t thank them enough.
In the morning we set off very early, 4:30am, to make sure we could make our appointment with our customs broker in Auckland at 9:00am. Traffic wasn’t bad, but of course it started raining again, ensuring that we would have to wash the truck one more time before turning it into the port. We made our appointment with plenty of time and then located the car wash.
We had to return to our broker by noon to collect our signed Carnet so that we could leave the country. It continued to rain on and off, but we felt that we had to try to get our vehicle "cleaner than new" so that we could satisfy the Australian customs inspectors. It was once again a wet and messy job.
Finally, we felt we couldn’t do anymore and slowly drove the two blocks to the port. Our safety inspector met us and started his inspection to OK us to put the truck on the ship. This is something that we have not had to do on either of our prior shipping experiences.
The first thing he asked us was if we had had our empty propane tank certified. Certified? All we were told was that it had to be empty. No, we had to have a certificate proving it. OK, now what. We were told we could drive across town to the certifier and pay $20.00 for the certificate or have him come to us for $100.00. Even though we had just spent hours cleaning the truck, we decided to do the drive. Fortunately, the streets were relatively dry and it didn’t rain during our outing. We found the certifier pretty easily and his certification took only minutes. We returned within an hour and our inspector was waiting for us. We finished up our inspection and then took our paperwork to the port officials to ensure that our vehicle would be loaded onto the ship when it arrived. Finally at 5:00pm, we were finished. Now the truck just needed to wait for the ship to show up on June 24th to be loaded.
We want to thank our agents at Barwil & Associates and Aironaut Customs Brokers for their help in completing the necessary paperwork for our shipping from NZ to AU.
June 23, 2007
Today we visited the Auckland Museum. It was an impressive structure set high on a hill with great views. We spent a good four hours visiting the displays of Maori culture and birds, fish and animals. It was very interesting and enjoyable. One of the displays was of a reconstructed Moa. These were flightless birds that inhabited the islands when the Maori first arrived. There were nine types of Moa, and the tallest of these was 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) tall! Imagine a 10 foot tall ostrich and you get a good idea of what they looked like. Unfortunately, the Moa were hunted to extinction.
June 24, 2007
This is our last full day in New Zealand and the last day of this expedition. Tomorrow we are flying to Brisbane, Australia and the eighth phase of the World of Wonders Project – The Australia Expedition.
For our last day, we decided to explore the North Shore of Auckland. This is actually across the bay from Auckland in the town of Devonport. We took one of the frequent ferries across the bay and then spent the day walking around the town, viewing the great old houses and looking back across toward the Sky Tower and downtown Auckland.
While we were sitting on the ferry, we couldn’t help but notice that we were traveling right across the water from the main port where our expedition vehicle would be shipping out sometime today. As we were returning to Auckland, Kim thought it would be fun to stay on the ferry for a couple of extra crossings and try to see if our ship, the Texas, had arrived.
After one crossing we were actually able to find our expedition vehicle parked on the wharf, but no ship was nearby. As we were heading back on our last crossing, we looked up and saw this enormous ship turning into the harbor that had the same paint scheme as our last ship. Yes, it was the Texas! It was really pretty funny that we were seeing our ship come in.
So we went around the outside of the port since we weren’t allowed to just wander around inside, and watched the ship dock. We were hoping to watch our vehicle get loaded onboard, but it was getting dark, so we left. It was a great feeling to know that everything looked to be running on schedule. Tomorrow morning we leave for Australia.