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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Above Cathedral Cove
29/02/2008, Hahei

We drove up the spectacular road the stretches the east coast of the peninsula. Along the way we turned down to visit the Hot Springs Beach, Hahei and Cook's Landing. This is a sweet corner of NZ, full of character and interest; you could easily spend a week or more here, rather than the one day we allowed.
One of our serendipitous finds was the macadamia nut orchard, where we satisfied our curiosity about the price of these scrummy nuts. They're a lot of work! The orchard, in the process of going organic, produces some lovely nuts and dressings (including some which are gluten free). See
From Hahei, you can walk to the Cathedral Cove, but on this very hot day we decided against it. This view looks south across Hahei Bay, one of the lovely local beaches.
Hei was the sailing master of the Te Atawa canoe which followed Kupe (the Maori discoverer of Aotearoa) here, and he settled in this bay. There are two pa sites at the further end of the beach.
We found a quiet spot to freepark in Whangapoua, a tiny village on the edge of an estuary tucked into the northern eastern corner of the peninsula. It is reached across acres of salt marsh, and has a very nice little fishing jetty and a pretty sailing yacht on her mooring buoy in the stream. Although it was a wild and windy night, we were very secure.

Places and people
Working in Wentworth Valley
28/02/2008, Wentworth Valley DOC

Driving up the Coromandel peninsula, we stopped for two nights at the pleasant DOC site in Wentworth Valley, just south of Whangamata. Sarah managed to get some writing done, sitting in the sun. (Yes, she did get burnt, underestimating the heat after so much rain.)

Places and people
Moving the pump-house

This is the Cornish pump-house, so called because it is modelled on those used in the Cornish mines, incidentally bearing out those posters at Paddington station which extol the exporting of Cornish innovation across the world. It housed the great pumps which removed the water from the mine.
When the licence to mine was granted in the 1970's, a condition was the restoration of this building, which is much loved locally. The mine-wall underneath it was unstable and the building itself in a right state. In the end it was moved 300m, along the beams you can see in front of it, to a more secure position and the structural problems resolved with some clever beams and fixings.
In addition to this being quite a triumph in its own right, this project seems to auger well for the future. It is clear that Martha won't be mined for much longer (nor the nearby, underground Flavona mine), and obviously there are many concerns about the economic future.
There are a lot of words and diagrams in the local i-site about the community consultation, the creation of a Trust and the plans for economic, social and environmental regeneration. Proposals include a large lake in Martha, allowing thermal spas, wildlife habitat and all sorts of water sports. A major draw-card for the area, if it comes about.
Our scepticism (not surprising when you consider how many years experience in regeneration and community development we have) was leavened by the undoubted success of the move of the pump house, and the vigorous programme of public meetings being publicised in the town. Good luck to them all!

Places and people
That's a big hole
28/02/2008, Waihi

Waihi has been a major gold mining town for a long time. The first mines, opened in the 1870's were named for Martha, the niece of the successful stakeholder. The mine didn't last that long before it became uneconomical to work, but around it and other strikes in the area, Waihi boomed into a sizeable town.
In the 1970's the price of gold rocketed and this seam became profitable again. The huge, open-cast mine is still known as Martha and is being worked today.

Places and people
Waka in Tauranga
27/02/2008, Tauranga Bay

From Whakatane, elated and exhausted, we headed to Tauranga, where we met Beryl off her bus from Wellington. Despite her nine hour trip she was jaunty, saying the bus had been very comfortable. Her sister, Pip's Aunt Zoe, is buried in Tauranga.
While Pip and Beryl visited the grave, Sarah explored a little. This is the splendid prow of the waka that adorns the river front.

Places and people
Back to harbour

We travelled back in great comfort after a good lunch. (Local food, recyclable container.) This is the harbour of Whakatane from just inside the bar. There is obviously a good deep channel and mooring buoys, but we don't know all the details of course.
The skipper told us that where we anchored off White Island there is about 10m of water. There is quite a shelf but then it drops off very fast. And to the east, less than a mile away, there is 1500 metres depth. This is the trench created by the Pacific Plate being pushed under the Australian one, the faultline which itself is feeding the volcano.

Places and people
A barren place?

This was a very hard place to live and not many have tried it. The Europeans tried to mine sulphur here, but in 1913 their camp was wiped out, either by a landslide or an eruption. No-one knows, because the tragedy was only discovered when the supply ship reached the island and found all the men gone, and their buildings wiped out. The miners either were buried by the eruption, or pushed into the sea where they would have been eaten by the sharks quite common in the area.
The only survivor was the cat, known as Peter. He was taken back to the mainland, where everyone wanted to breed from him. He sired many kittens and died at a great age, known far and wide as Peter the Great.
These logs get washed ashore in the storms. There are a few remains of a later mining effort from the early 1920's, but the business went bankrupt. Now no-one lives on White Island.

Places and people
Rusty flows

This little stream shows up the colours deposited by oxides and other compounds as it runs from a fumarole on the crater floor towards the sea. A magic carpet.
Next to it runs another little stream that is almost clear of colour; its source is much higher in the crater wall and it is not filled with material from fumaroles and upswellings directly above the magma chamber.
Both the streams are acidic, however, with a pH of 2 or 3, about the same as your stomach. You wouldn't want to drink it.

Places and people
Ever changing

This is the mud in one spot in the crater, part of a larger mud pool that is constantly in motion, and the whole crater of mud is changing shape almost daily. We saw mud pools at Orakei Korako and in Rotorua but because of the drought they were pretty dry. Here on Whakaari not only is there plenty of rain, but steam feeds these pools from below.
White Island is a place to teach you that the rocks themselves are alive, that all of the environment is dynamic, and that the equilibrium of terra firma is pretty fragile. The colours, smells and shapes here are all in flux, and the great majority of them are chemical, created by minerals and water, rather than the algae and other life-forms that visibly push change in most places.

Places and people
It's pretty big

This picture gives some idea of the scale of the place. The crater lake is hidden behind rocks against the back wall. There is a little man on the track (a very committed photographer, closely watched by a patient guide).
This photo is taken from the highest spot on the crater floor, about a third of the way from the back wall to the landing place.

Places and people
Crater lake

At the back of the crater floor is a smaller crater. This was formed by a major explosion in 1976, which left a cone about 120m deep. This gradually got filled up by rubble (both ejecta and stuff washed off the crater walls by rain), ash and smaller stones. Inevitably the blocked vent exploded again.
There were then heavy rains in 2000 which left a small puddle over the vent. This was expected to disappear. Instead, it has become a permanent feature, inasmuch as anything is permanent here. The lake is fed by steam coming out of the vent which condenses on contact with the water. From the surface, water is lost in steam or ordinary evaporation, but re-fed by rain water.
The lake is not salt, but has a pH of -0.5. That's serious acid, of the sulphuric and hydrochloric variety. The day we were there it was still, but sometimes it is belching steam which is very unpleasant to breathe. Certainly this was an area where the gas masks came in handy.

Places and people
Getting close to the sulphur

All across the crater floor are humps of materiel, left by eruptions and landslides. The hot steam finds a way through these, creating fumaroles which deposit the sulphur and other compounds. The surface of these mounds is a thin crust, which we were continually warned not to walk on. Apparently a couple of weeks before a tourist ignored this and found himself ankle deep in very hot mud.
You can put your hand over this vent (which is close to the relatively stable path), and feel the heat; you can't get really close because the steam is scalding.
All this sulphur? Yes: White Island is a smelly place. It reeks of sulphur compounds. It is a bitter, acrid smell, though, quite distinct from the rotten eggs steam that sometimes hangs over Rotorua.

Places and people

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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