Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Beginnings Two

Hanmer Springs
We arrived on a rainy night, we were hungry, because we skipped lunch, so we chose to  stay “home” and not go to the warm geothermal pools in a beautiful surrounding. Children change beds, trying to find out which one is better. It is cold over night so we turn on the portable heater (the one that comes with the RV is inefficient and noisy). We can’t wake up in the morning and leave early enough. 
We drive through Lewis Pass a nice, but cold, forested area. 

The scenery is amazing, it helps that is a sunny day. 

The road winds left and right,
 next to blue rivers,
 pastures with sheep, hills with waving grass.
Those Ys are actually tree high hedges
 We would still be on the road if we would have stopped at every belvedere point.
We did stop in Punakaiki, to look at the Pancake rocks and blowholes. It used to be a sea bed, and under the weight of the new layers, or for some other reasons layers of sandstone were interlaid with thinner mudstone. Some millions years forward, erosion and ta-daaa. 

A matter of scale.

Being low tide the blow holes were not in the best performing mood, and sprayed just a few drops around. We were happy anyway, we could see Mt. Cook that was 200 km away.
It’s a magic place. The camp is next to the gray beach, where waves are pounding it in an unending battle. An exuberance is over us, we feel like fooling around. 

We know beaches, we just left one, but we never met one like this Hokitika one: driftwood, dark grey sand, big rocks, no one in sight as far as we can see. 

The sun is ready to set, the clouds are covering it and change colors, that you know that exist but never had the patience to look for them. 
And as I turn for some reason, behind the people on the dunes, between the trees, a full moon shows its huge buttery face.
We’re like tops now, turning round and round, trying to look at a sunset and a moonrise in the same time. Our energy renewed, we take funny pictures and eventually, we are the last one on the beach.

And maybe the first ones next morning. The light is different now, but the waves’ foam still looks purple.
We stop and visit the town of 700 people which was getting ready for its 21st Festival of Wildfoods. 
It seems that they eat worms covered in chocolate and stuff like that. It is good business for restaurants, but not for the rest. Some parts of the 20 000 people crowd use this festival as a reason to get drunk and cause wreckage. 
We were interested in Maori Heritage, where we learned about pomona (jade or nephrite), and the National Kiwi Center.
The Maori legend about pomona is that He loved Her, but she was married. So He kidnapped her. The jealous husband followed them. Fearing capture and consequences, He transformed Her into pomona, the green stone, and hid her in the Arahura river. Science says that jade was formed through crystallization when lava became cold. That particular layer was pushed upwards and slanted by the ulterior movements of the terrestrial crust and now is eroded by the river.
There are different ways to carve the jade, and each model says something about the person who wears it and its ties with his Maori origin and culture.
At the Kiwi center we found besides kiwi, whitebait, crayfish, touatara, a surviving relative of the dinosaurs,

We took our time reading about eels. Apparently they are spawned somewhere 3000 km away from New Zealand, and they start migrating toward it as larvae, then as glass eels (called like this because they are transparent) and when they reach the fresh water they become brownish. If the river dries up for some reason they move over land, breathing through their skin, if moist. They can climb dam walls or ropes or anything that blocks their way toward water. Males mature around 25 years old and female from 40 and up, at different rates. They breed once in their lifetime and after that they refuse to eat and die. If they don’t mate, they become sterile, and live very long lives, longer then 120. Israel, their caretaker, let our children feed and pet the eels. They said they felt like a rough jelly. 

Weird facts about them: they sleep hanging upside down and as they get older, they develop a hump, reversible in the beginning if they lie on a flat surface, but later on becomes permanent.
Weka, one of the five types of kiwi.
The other attraction was...two kiwi birds. They live in a dark room, in two separate pens and they are very sensitive to sound and light (being nocturnal). We were asked not to photograph them. They are chicken sized, but they don t have a tail bone, so their end is rounded. The male was shy, he wouldn’t get out of his house, but the female was probing with her beak all over the place. She would move quickly on her strong legs, elongating her neck, surveying, and start looking for food in the mulch, and rotten stumps. There are 5 types of kiwi birds, some rarer than other. The Maori treated them as a special thing: the chiefs would eat it and use its plumage to make coats (12 birds for a full length coat). We learned so many things... Even if the kiwi was protected, their numbers were getting smaller. As usual, man had something to do with it, in this case, his pets. Cats and dogs find their burrows, eat their eggs, chase or eat them. And now whole communities are involved in healthful behavior, leashing their dogs and not letting their cats out at night. It is an example for our children, that everything that we do has a consequence, and we have to correct our hidden mistakes.

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