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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Long lost cousins
25/02/2008, Rotorua

Through a complicated family tree, Beryl, Pip's mother, had recently been contacted by Annette, the wife of her cousin Lindsay. (We think this makes him Pip's first cousin.) Pip had an address for them but not a phone number, so we drove round Selwyn Heights looking for them.
Ta dah! As we walked up their drive, Lindsay was in their yard preparing their van for a few days away fishing. We were just in time.
It was great to piece together some elements of the jigsaw and hear stories of the family. As Lindsay and Annette were about to go away, they donated some potatoes, tomatoes and the yellowest lemons to Puff's stores. All very gratefully received: many thanks, guys!

Places and people
The hunt for taonga
Rained all day

We were lucky: a craft market was held in Rotorua today, despite the rain, and we found two sources of treasure.
Bob Collins worked as a Forest Ranger, based in Minginui with a patch including Whirinaki for many, many years up till 1987. In the course of those years he collected many burrs and sections of the trees as they were felled, rescuing them from the saw mills that were then active. After retirement he took up wood turning, using the thousands of pieces of wood from those wonderful trees to make bowls. These two are mostly made from rimu.
We are very sad for the trees that were felled, but glad that this wood, rather than simply being burnt (as it otherwise would have been) has been turned into beautiful and useful pieces.
Our other taonga (treasure) was found at the stall of Iris Herewini, who sells pounamu (greenstone), bone and paua jewellery made by relatives. Both these are made by her brother-in-law, who lives in Hokatika. We had promised ourselves pounamu pieces as part of this trip and had looked at so many (including in Hokatika), but these were the ones that spoke to us.
Both are made of kahurangi (cloak of the sky) greenstone, which takes its meaning from the cloud shapes within it.
Iris was great to meet and talk with. She told us so much about the greenstone and took so much time to make sure these were the right pieces for each of us, had the right cords on, were set at the right length and so on. We spent a very happy hour talking with her, and thank her again for her friendship.

Places and people
St Faith's Church

This is the splendid Anglican building, built in the wood framed, clean style that is a hallmark of the older European buildings in the town. Inside it is amazing fusion of Maori and European spiritual art; the pillars, pews and beams are a riot of Maori carving with tiki and taniwha. The stained glass is exceptional, together with a magnificent engraving of Jesus walking on Galilee, positioned such that he appears to be walking on Lake Rotorua. (Photos are forbidden inside the church).
St Faith's faces a large marae in a lovely complex of buildings right on the water front. We weren't sure it was acceptable to photograph the marae without permission so we will wait for an opportunity when we know it is acceptable.

Places and people
Kuirau Park

This is the main town park in Rotarua, which sets on the edge of an eponymous lake. The park is full of thermal pools, setting forth clouds of steam. We don't know why some of the trees round this pool have died.
The town has created a free foot pool where you can rest your weary feet after wandering around town. Very welcome! We sat there for a bit, then returned to our holiday park, where we could get into togs and fully luxuriate in geothermally warmed sulphurous water.

Places and people
Pip in the park

This is before our feet really started hurting, at a fab tree, which appears to have created this frame of its own accord.

Places and people
Stupid birds
Still raining
23/02/2008, Rotorua

We made our way back to the heart of the geothermal area, the town of Rotorua. Here Pip was delighted to find greedy pukeko who begged endlessly. These birds are used as a general illustration of silly clowning all over NZ, and their antics fully deserve their reputation.

Places and people
A river runs through it

Nowhere on the walk were we far from the sound of water. The Whirinaki Falls tumble into this beautiful pool, as seen from the path above.
Sarah used this as a training session for her plans to walk the Queen Charlotte Track later in this trip. So she filled the backpack up with some of the heaviest stuff in Puff and walked quite fast. Pip, who has no intention of tackling a multi-day tramp, womanfully came too, with a lighter pack. However, Sarah might be training alone some of the time!

Places and people
Epiphytes again

Above us, the height of a tall building, air plants are making their homes.
This is a very important forest for the local iwi (tribe), who have lived here as long as the oldest trees in the bush and have a profound spiritual relationship with it. The village is now responsible for the conservation and enhancement of the Forest Park and have a large scale programme incorporating improvements in the school, medical research and a management-learning programme called Tipu Ake.

Places and people
The finest forest in Aotearoa?
23/02/2008, Whirinaki Forest Park

Further east, outside the tiny village of Minignui, deep in the World Heritage forests of Te Urewera, is the stretch of bush known as Whirinaki Forest Park. Our walk book recommended a nine kilometre hike along a loop track to the waterfall, and declared this finest stretch of podocarp forest in the country. We are inclined to agree. It is full of magnificent trees, and epitomises the layering of mature rainforest.
This picture barely begins to capture the majesty of the climactic podocarp, the great groves of punga ferns and the lush shrubs below. The birds are busy throughout the trees, and all the time leaves fall gently.

Places and people
A fisher in hot mud

All our time in Orakei Korako, it rained.
The birds didn't seem to mind. When we left, after about two hours wandering in this enchanting region, the warm mud at the bottom of the Emerald Terraces on the edge of the lake, was full of ducks. Among them stood this heron (or maybe a shag) waiting patiently for some unseen signal to start his day of fishing.

Places and people
Rift Valley

The Happy Valley lies on the great fault that runs from Taupo to the sea. This picture shows one small section of another the fault escarpments created in the first century eruption.
For the first people who found this secret place, it must have been truly frightening. It isn't surprising that the Maori speak of a taniwha, water monster, living in the river below.

Places and people
Eerie landscape

It is difficult, within our photographic skills, to capture the strangeness of this landscape. It is wreathed in smoke, painted in strange and vibrant colours and carved into fantastic shapes. There are enormous holes, sides slick smooth, at the bottom of which bubbles hot mud. Elsewhere, cliffs polished to shining white, hide funnels or caves which belch out hot steam, and gurgle before gushing plumes of water that fills the air with the stench of sulphur.

Places and people

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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