Dec. 10, 11, 12, 2012
We decided to relax and explore this corner of the North Island - arrived on Monday (Dec. 10) and wandered a bit. Then yesterday, it was quite grey and ominous much of the day - seemed to look as if it would rain torrents half the day - but it never really rained much. We wandered around the town, which is small and quaint, and looked at the harbour. This is one of those very long, extensive, winding harbours that we keep finding in New Zealand, with a river or two feeding into it, and the ocean at the far end. And, of course, the black sand, because we're on the west coast and that's the kind of sand that's here.
I wandered around town and then down to the wharf, which is really a tiny little spot and more of just a small dock than a wharf - but I'm not going to argue with the Raglan founding fathers or sign makers.
I did find some strange and unique flowers - I have no idea what this giant pink thing is, but it looks like that meat-eating plant from the Addams Family, doesn't it?
The red bushy thing is a tree here, the pohutukawa tree. They grow all over - and they have this red brushy looking flower. The trees are kind of twisty and gnarled, and sometimes the bark peels and hangs down. Actually, the trees often look like brown driftwood - that kind of gnarled and old looking wood, but in a living tree.
Raglan also has a number of very old trees, with signs that say "Notable tree" and for further information contact XYZ. I had no idea what a "notable tree" was - a famous tree because someone tied up his horse or his boat? Someone was tied to the tree and hung here (like the various traitors who were hung from trees all up and down New England)? Or some young New Zealand Romeo and Juliet hid love letters in this tree?
No, nothing so interesting. These are just really old trees notable for their age and size, and by putting up the sign it gives the trees protection - they cannot be cut down unless there's a reason (like storm damage or disease).
But I liked the notable trees, and gave them hugs. (Some of them are REALLY old, but none are as old as the kauri, Tane Mahuta, who is estimated to be about 2000 years old.)
Richard and I like the various bachs (or baches) - summer homes - made from trailers and set up somewhat permanently in the various holiday parks we've stayed at. People take anything from tiny trailers to large almost motor homes and set them up in the holiday park - then add a solid floor (tile or concrete slab), add a tent or awning to the side, or like this one, some lattice work to set up their own porch - throw in a picnic table (chained in place) and voila, you have an inexpensive summer home to stay in each year!
You can see all the small trailer/tent combinations here - it seems to be pretty normal!
I guess the family selects a favorite spot and just makes arrangements with the holiday park. I have no often how frequently they might visit, but the park owners have chatted with us about how the next few weeks are the crazy time of year, from mid December through mid January, when half the country is off on holiday camping somewhere.
Today (Wednesday) was warm and sunny, so we drove to the south side of the Raglan Harbour and visited several beaches - the usual black sand, turquoise water, and apparently some of the best left-curling waves in the world, according to our guide book. (I know little about surfing.)
Several stores have a wonderful photo, taken locally, of four or five surfers catching a wave and being followed by a baby orca, who is surfing the wave right behind them! This happened a few years back, and the mama orca was also playing in the waves - but she didn't get into the photos.
It was low tide, so the water was way out there, exposing some rock and shells, creating nice little tide pools. I found one sea star (with about nine or ten arms) who was drying out, but the underside had moving tentacles, so I threw that one back into the ocean.
Then I found this cute little sea star in his own little pool of water - he was moving around, got to one end of the water where it was shallow, picked up one arm and waved at me, put his arm back down, and went wandering off to the other side of the poo. Seriously. The little sea star waved at me. I'm not kidding.
We watched some surfers, though there wasn't much surf at some of the beaches - best surf was at a very rocky beach, so we watched from the bluffs up above. (Not a cobble beach - more like small boulders on the beach. Not conducive to walking around in sandals. I don't know how the guys we saw managed to walk through, in wet suits and carrying surf boards. Dedication!)
Anyway, it was a beautiful day and one of the warmest we've had thus far - I think summer may finally be here!
Plus we have several families of rabbits living at the holiday park - they go hopping around the trailers and under everything, nibbling clover and grass, stopping at the sound of footsteps, then hopping away and hiding under another vehicle. There are some of the smallest little bunnies hopping around with their parents! I tried to sneak up close to a few, and the mama rabbit turned and stomped her feet at me a couple of times - not sure if she was trying to scare me away, or warn the babies that I was dangerous. (I'm not.)
Yup, bunnies stomp their feet at me, sea stars wave their arms at me.