Goodbye New Zealand
Trip Start Jan 25, 2008
48Trip End Nov 16, 2008
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I boarded the Magic bus with a desire to absorb every last detail of scenery and scent that would pass me by. I wanted to take it all in; take it with me, and take it home.
I tried not to think about leaving as I watched us climb down the west coast of the Northland back towards Auckland. back towards the airport and my plane to Australia. we entered the area known as Hokianga, a region that surrounds the great Hokianga Harbour. It's sparsely populated and has many little clusters of houses in a very rural setting-- the population density is lower than one per square kilometer! Its full Maori name is Hokianga-nui-a-Kupe which means the returning place of Kupe, the legendary polynesian discoverer of Aotearoa (New Zealand) about 800 - 1,000 years ago
we first visited Rawene (pronounced rah-WEE-knee) for a "tea break" and to stretch our legs after two hours on the road. I got coffee and took some pictures. it was a very small town--very--so I only took a few. while i was in the café I happened to take sugar from a table where a pretty girl sat by herself. I asked if I could borrow her spoon (it was unused) and after she obliged, we discovered we were fellow Americans. originally from Seattle, she told me all about the good places to visit when I told her I was thinking of visiting a friend there on my way home to Massachusetts. amazingly (although not surprisingly, as I was finding it really was a small world) her boyfriend was from Connecticut, and they frequently went to the cape...she loves it. go figure.
we continued along the coast to Opononi (oh-POE-no-knee) which lies on the southern side of the harbor entrance, and is famous for the friendly bottlenose dolphin "Opo" that spent the summer of 1955-1956 frolicking with swimmers at the beach. when she died in somewhat mysterious circumstances later that year, the nation mourned... and she is now remembered with a monument and a song
later we stopped for lunch at a Kauri shop. furniture, statues, carvings-- all made from ancient Kauri tree wood. since it's illegal to cut down a Kauri, the only way they harvest the wood is from already downed trees that fall over either naturally, or by storm. personally I was more amused by the table full of bobble-head kiwi birds in the gift shop.
my last stop on the Magic bus was just south of Hokianga and north of Dargaville, in the protected Waipoua Kauri Forest to see the great Tane Mahuta or God of the Forest. this tree is a legend. it's debated that it could be one of the oldest living things on the planet. there is no proof of the tree's age, but is estimated to be between 1250 and 2500 years old. the trunk alone is 58 feet tall and has a 45 foot girth. I have never seen anything like it. when it first comes into view your automatic response is to either gasp, or say "wow". most people I observed did the latter. even in the crowd gathered at its mighty base, you could sense there was an unspoken reverence for this living wonder
we rolled back into Auckland around dinnertime, I said adios to the "Magic" and checked back into the same hostel I stayed in just five nights earlier. as I began to repack my bags for my flight early the next morning, my anticipation for the coming days could no longer be disregarded. a familiar fear arose as I remembered that I had only booked my first two nights in a Brisbane hostel... that was it. no further plans. a flood of doubts began rushing my mind: how long would I stay there? would I be able to find a job? a place to live? am I making the right choice? again I was changing every possible aspect of my tangible life. exchanging the known for the unknown. maybe I should just go home, I questioned.
no, I thought.
something in me, a rather large part of me, was aching to see this other country. I felt as I did the night before I left for NZ; giddy, frightened, energized and eager. I shook away my reservation and finally, finally, began to enjoy the opportunity of the unknown. I was alone again and never in my life have I been so aware of this fact, but I treasured it nonetheless.
as I waited for sleep to ease my racing mind later that night, I reminisced about my 10 months in the Land of the Long White Cloud. the many things I'd seen, the places I'd visited and the friends I'd made along the way. I smiled in the dark as a montage of memories played before my eyes, evoking the feelings that came with them. some I knew would remain distant memories and perhaps even one day fade, but others I would hold with me for the rest of my life.