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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is just the beginning!

My first weekend in New Zealand I found myself with a rental car cruising the North Island. You have already had the pleasure of reading the many farces and many first (unnatural) moments of left-side driving (PS- The steering wheel is on the right side too...) with curbs hopped and windshield wipers turned on every 5 minutes. Silly, exhausting, and SO well worth it.

View from on the trailor
Friday morning I drove like lightning from Wellington to Cape Kidnappers (rental car company “forgot” to pick me up Friday morning!) to see the world’s largest gannet colony (it is a bird, by the way). I arrived just in the nick of time to catch my tractor trailor coastal tour along the South Pacific. An hour and a half tractor and trailor pull down the Cape Kidnappers coastline yielded a several “get out and walk” moments to lighten the load as we got massively stuck between rocks and sand (and birdshit). I'd like to think this was the fault of the drivers, and not the overindulgence of any passengers...

Reaching the largest gannet colony in the world required a brief (steep!) 25 min hike to the plateau, which was relatively pleasant and smell free. However about 5 minutes before reaching the summit the air's fragrance began to change slightly... it was evident you were soon to be in the midst of other creatures. The smell was not overly powerful, but definitely distinct. And then--- Arriving at the top presented several thousand gannets within mere feet!!! They possessed such great beauty, combined with a lot of squawking, dancing, 'bowing' and me hoping not to be the recipient any "head jewelry". Spared, whew!

Several hours later was a quick drive to Napier for the overnight - a town known well for its history and architecture style. Napier was destroyed in 1931 by a 7.9 earthquake, and rebuilt completely in the style of the times, Art Deco, and has maintained this persona since. You will see some of the plate tectonic shifts from this earthquake in the beach pictures; parts of the coast were lifted and separated by over 30 feet!
Napier streets
Well here goes, photo album number one, the first of many, and only the first of this weekend! (Admittedly I am slightly behind in picture uploads...) Be warned… there are a lot of birds!

Pictures Cape Kidnappers and gannet colonies

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