NZ – Picton to Tauranga

The boat ride back, and up to Masterton
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The Cook straight is calm again
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There’s another interesting thing that happens in a river and we’re off through the forest 25 miles north of Masterton to see it.

Its starts here
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No-one’s around. I ask a lady about the eels that live in the rivers here. She asks me if I’d like to feed them and goes off for a few minutes and comes back with some fishing waders, a bucket and a kitchen spoon. In the bucket are kitchen scraps, some raw chicken bits and on top, dead mice.

I can’t imagine how this is going to work, but we head off through the forest and she tells me a story. Later on that
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If the seals playing in the river down south were the bright side of life, this may be the dark side. They’re in this river somewhere
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There they are. Dark eels, really big. Up to 6 feet long. Their fat bodies move against the current effortlessly.
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These eels are not to be messed with. She says that one of Captain Cook’s journals graphically describe a sailor getting attacked by these eels. They latched onto him and went into a frenzy, ripping chunks off him until he was bones. People have been very careful since, she says.

She says they can’t smell me through the waders so in I wade and start doling out a spoonful each as they gather around me. The dog shaped mouths are lined with bright white teeth that look like the shiny tips of scalpel blades against a bright red background.

They can age the eels accurately because of bony rings in the head and the oldest found so far was 160 years old. They cross the ocean 6000 miles to breed in Tonga and the larvae drift back this way with the current. The young grow to a certain size in the river estuaries befire going upstream. The photo below is from video she took
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To Napier, Deco capital of NZ
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There are tons of sheep on this section
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Fast twisties
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Sheep everywhere
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And if you stop, they all stare at you. Every one
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A typical and beautiful Kiwi farmhouse
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I’m told all these river are stuffed with trout. They’re heavy in biomass, but I guess because it’s winter not a lot of bugs in the air
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Into Napier, which is proud of its aesthetic. The town was levelled by a massive earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt when Deco was going off in Europe. They have festivals celebrating it, all the towns brochures emphasize it, everywhere you look its Deco. Deco-ish.
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One of the pretty avenues through the center of town
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Typical fascade
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Some nice interiors
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Details in the street, modern
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Inland to Taupo
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Largely like this
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Then on to Rotorua

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A good time to mention that nearly all the country road bridges are single lane. Very nice
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We took a route that was 50/50 dirt since it hadn’t rained in a day or two
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Through Hobbit-land. Not dissimilar to the green hills east of Medellin

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The lakefront. Very cold
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This day first goes backwards to hot springs. But I parked in the parking lot beside the road and decided not to leave Lucinda alone for the hour walk, and bailed
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Dense forests here
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Back to Tauranga to get the suspension re-built after nearly two years. I was in this shop back at the beginning getting new tires. They had 4 HP2 posters on the walls and all raced. Rhys on the right here races superbikes. Ray, on the left also races, but I can’t remember what. I’ve pre-ordered a new Garmin wiring harness for the GPS (which being Garmin) has failed somewhere and I’ve been running on batteries for a while. It turns out the pins in the mount have worn down. But the courier has lost it, so I head off for a few days.
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Test riding the re-built suspension outside of town
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The view of town from the highest point
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Then on to do a loop of the Coromandel peninsula, first stop WhitiangaScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 4.40.30 PM

Fast
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We were trying to find a hot spring on a beach. This turned out to be the wrong one
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Here’s another close-to-the-ground Kiwi bird
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This peninsula is a Kiwi highlight
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Some kind of shrubby Potentilla I think

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Rode along this ridge for a couple of hours
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Down to the sea again. The water is clear
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Walk along here
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There’s a group of people digging in the sand and sitting in sand pits
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We go to investigate. The water is hot, very hot, and seeping out of the holes they’ve dug
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Then north to a dirt road I hear is special
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A slick and slimy start
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Lower tree ferns here
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A fishing village
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Then up a perfect waterfront dirt road
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Fast and packed
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Zoom
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To a fantastic look-out
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The road doesn’t go around the top and back, so we reversed
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We hung out in the town of Coromandel for a day or two, then headed back down the other side
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Where Rhys replaced the Garmin harness. A tank-off job of course. So now Lucinda is completely ready for new adventures.
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