Looking up at Kauri Trees, Sailing the Glittering Coast

Mangangina Kauri forest outside of Paihia, New Zealand.
Manginangina Kauri forest outside of Paihia.

The day was on the water for the most part, but earlier, I drove the winding roads, past grazing sheep and logging trucks to an amazing spot some people from Sydney told me about on the dinner cruise…the Manginangina Kauri Walk, a forest preserve full of ancient trees.

The Kauri trees can grown easily up to ten feet in diameter and hundreds of feet high. In olden days before 1905, men used to clamber up the sides of the trees with spiky hammers and puncture them to get at their sap, which was valuable as an ingredient. This killed the giant trees and was banned.

Walking through the forest canopy, along with just my cameras, it was a feast for my ears. Birds chattered way, way up in those regal trees, and I was totally surrounded by the silent giants. A walkway circles 350 meters through the forest getting you deep into it, and it was a fantastic experience.

Then it was time for the ocean, which we enjoyed in all manners. First a long 90-minute paddle over choppy blue water over to Motorua island, to a deserted beach which had rocks with small oysters covering them. Then to a 1920s motor yacht, the Alma G, to cruise along the coast and watch dolphins jump out of the water and swim alongside the boat. Finally, after some more paddling next to a rock with speakers that played the calls of the gannets, birds they are trying to attract back. They also had plastic birds for additional effects.

Aboard the Vigilant.
Sailing the Vigilant.

We made it home in style, aboard the 42 foot Vigilant, a sleek sailing yacht where a cold beer awaited. Everyone’s skin was dusty with salt. Watching the glittering sun off the water, taking the slow route back to port, it was a great end to a day on the water.

Cruise ships arrive in Paihia about 40 times a year, disgorging passengers who have already eaten and have a place to stay. But some of the cruisers take these excursions and others buy things in shops. The site of a massive ship from Australia in the harbor is pretty common in the New Zealand late spring now underway.