67. It’s Not Far: Dargaville to Matakohe Kauri Museum

We are well settled into our travelling life, with some ingrained routines having taken root. We pick up vegetables almost every day and cook them into stirfries which we eat with baked potatoes or kumara. I add lentils or chickpeas to our stirfries, and we have meat sometimes too. We do housework each day, filling and emptying the water and waste tanks at official dump sites which we can easily look up on our cellphone NZMCA app. We vaccum almost daily, whenever we run the generator, and wipe the eternally dusty windows. We are rarely on power and it makes life feel simple and relaxing. Except that we rush around trying to see everything each environment has on offer which makes everything a little less relaxing.

It’s quite a pressure to fit everything in each day, so I think we need to stop acting as though this will be our only trip around the North Island, and agree that we will come back one day. This is because it looks as though we are not going to get around nearly enough of this island. We are talking about just moving down the east coast and returning to explore the west coast another time. I laugh now, when I think of people who thought we’d have our travels wrapped up in a month. One year isn’t going to be nearly enough. I’ve worked it out that, including travelling and living, it would take about three years for us to get around the North Island.

There’s been surprisingly little access to mobile data in the Far North so it’s been hard to keep up with the blogging. I thought internet would be more efficient and accessible in the populated North Island, but actually we are realising internet access is better in the South Island. There are often discussions going on about more towers going in, but locals not wanting it on their backdoor step.

I hope I’m not repeating myself from blog to blog – I should be reading back to check but I never do.

I love it when we see murals, and most towns have them. They are a great sign of what’s important in local communities. This one, complete with piwakawaka, kiwi, tui, cabbage trees and kowhai were on the toilet block by the river in Dargaville.
The town centre is pretty much at the level of the water in the Wairoa River. Flooding can be a problem at times, and shop floors have gone under, intiating big clean ups.
We took a breathless drive out to the Kai Iwi Lakes, of which there are three – one is actually called Kai Iwi (food for the tribe), one Taharoa and one Waikere. These lakes formed almost 2 million years ago and are NZ’s deepest dune lakes, reaching a depth of 37 metres. They are kept in place by the ground beneath which is cemented together with iron oxides.

Unusually, we didn’t see anybody around the Kai Iwi Lakes, so we couldn’t ask for local information, although I did have quite a talk with a man in Dargaville who said not to be fooled by the stories of poverty we hear up here: there’s also wealth hidden among farmers, plain living and plain thinking, who sell cattle for tens of thousands of dollars to the US beef market.

The breathlessness is because I’m having a lot of trouble breathing properly for stretches of time, and think it’s due to being out in the blowing wind so much these past few of days. I also think caused by my emotions as I’m already missing being further north and wish I was still there. I’m so used to seeing rainbows now, and want to keep seeing them every day.
We left Dargaville, crossing some really flat country – I don’t think we’ve seen such flatness since being on the Canterbury Plains.

Seeing this stubble in the fields made us think of South Canterbury where they burn their stubble – we wondered what they do here as there’s not much time left until planting time comes round again.
This is the pointy, steep-sided volcanic cone of Tokatoka Peak.
We should really be climbing these peaks or at least going to check them out, but we are meeting friends tomorrow and still want to visit the Matakohe Kauri Museum.
Here we are, at this museum we’ve heard so much about.
A kauri root system sits out front like a weird kind of alien.
The museum is huge and holds a full mill. We pushed buttons that made different machinery work. There were displays and videos to watch that gave stories and explanations of the life of a kauri tree, and how they were used historically by Māori and Europeans, including a lot about past European milling operations. There were many lifelike mannequins engaged in all the different types of work related to the harvesting of kauri. While this museum largely showed the milling and human use of kauri, there was also a conservation aspect that promoted the return of kauri forests.
Here’s a giant diagram that shows the diameters of the largest known kauri trees, some of which were burned or chopped down in early European times. Tane Mahuta is included as one of the smaller ones.
We bought a kauri sapling to be planted out in local public or private conservation areas. Eventually we will receive the coordinates of the position where it’s planted, so I’m looking forward to potentially visiting this little fella and watching it grow up.
There are buildings to visit in the grounds of the Matakohe Museum; this brick church shone brilliantly red in the light of the sinking sun.
This cottage holds many varieties of roses in it’s grounds thanks to a local enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s