Barrier was such an epic experience, living in nature that it was hard for any trip or adventure to live up. After we left, it was a bit of a culture shock just just driving on paved roads and being around people. After a short visit to Waiheke Island, a few days in the volcanic Waitakere Ranges, a road trip to Taranaki on the North Island's West coast, and a Surf trip to the East coast, we began a new chapter of our trip . A new chapter in which we got back to wwoofing, did some fruit picking, learned some new skills, and got to explore some beautiful territory. Check it out.
Waiheke Island was beautiful but not exciting. We went there intending to work on a vineyard picking grapes, but when that fell through and there was no surfing or convenient dive spots, it didn't make sense to stay there even though it was so nice. In these shots are a view of Stoney Ridge Vineyard, some land and a secluded beach on the more isolated side of the island that we drove to, a nice beach that we paddled to in our friend's kayak which we still had at the time, a nice sunset, and a view from the island back to Auckland city.
After we left Waiheke, we camped for a few nights in the Waitakere Ranges regional park. This area of land was formed by an off-shore underwater volcano, giving the coast a blanket of black sand and the land of jagged cliffs, a vast and lunar feel. The Ranges are protected as a Regional Park extending a great distance up the coast and they have many hiking trails and beaches to explore. These shots are from the trails over Mt. Zion and Karekare beach
Then we headed to Raglan and Taranaki. Raglan is one of the top surf destinations in NZ featuring lots of left-hand point breaks. Taranaki is known for its rugged coast surrounding Mt. Egmont. Here we found some great spots and interesting sand/beach patterns. Unfortunately we hit some bad weather and had to head back north to Tauranga to return the kayak and seek some shelter.
Next we had our first trip to the East coast, where we are now. We surfed in four different regions of the coast in four days and saw loads of spots in between, it was great. One spot was especially amazing, we hiked with our boards along the coast for about forty five minutes to Stingray Bay which I got to surf by myself on perfect, consistent, peeling waves for two hours, it was some of the best surf I've had in New Zealand...Epic.
Then we settled in a little bit at a farm in Gisborne, picking organic Persimmons and Kiwifruit. We stayed there for one month, picked loads of fruit, packed them for export, and got to earn some cash to continue on the journey. We surfed a few times a week, and had a hike to Cook's cove where Captain James Cook named this beautiful area. Also pictured are the side-by-side green and gold kiwifruit, the gold ones are delicious and not sour tasting at all but they must be grown under a special licence obtained from the company that created the variety. One of the pictures is of a wind machine which is used as frost protection and blows the warmer air towards the ground to protect fruit and flowers from frost damage.
Continuing on our farm tour down the east coast, we stayed for a week at Zidkeen farm where we learned the work of a fence contractor, a very important NZ farm trade, and got to do some work assisting Paddy the farm owner who is a working Bee-Keeper. We first moved some of these hives to their new winter location under the cover of night while the bees were asleep, then came back the next day to check the frames. First, the hives must be smoked, which makes the bees calm, then the covers are removed and each frame is pulled out to check if the bees in that hive are producing honey. In the pictures are healthy frames, full of honey and properly capped to seal and preserve the honey that is good and no action needs to be taken. But when we find bad frames where the cells are empty and some are filled with drones in an attempt to make a new queen, we need to replace these frames with leftover frames full of honey from last season so that the bees will have enough food to survive the winter and properly make a new queen if they need one.
After we left the bee keepers' we spent two weeks on the most picturesque farm we had been to thus far. The place was immaculate, from the pristine farmland, to the perfectly maintained fences, breathtaking views, the massive acreage of the farm itself, and the luxurious homestead were all outstanding. The farm was raising sheep and cattle, and it was our introduction to working with livestock. We got the experience of mustering (herding) the sheep and cattle into the yards where we administered necessary treatments (for worms, lice, etc.), taged/marked them for gender, and even steered a bull. We also had the opportunity to assist in sheering the ewes (female sheep), the task we performed is called rousing which entails sorting of the wool after it has been sheered, removing dag (clumps of poo) from the wool, and filling up the sheerer's pens with more sheep once they have emptied them as we had to sheer close to 300 ewes. It was quite a long job and took about four hours, but this was nothing considering the farm had around 2,000 head of sheep. Sheep and cattle farmers use dogs bred and trained especially for mustering the animals, it is amazing to see them doing their work. The farmer controls the dogs using commands and the dogs know exactly what they are doing as they maneuver the livestock down a road or across any terrain which can be quite steep as you can see in the pictures. The farm is situated in the hills of Mahanga overlooking the Mahia peninsula. All of the pictures were taken from the property which show just how expansive it was, it stretched four kilometers up the coast. There is also one image of olives on the tree which we picked and were going to be brined and aged in local olive oil to be eaten as table olives. We also got some epic surfing in at some the many local surf spots in the area.
And lastly where we are at now. Wairunga is an amazing family-run farm, golf course, and accommodation. They also have sheep and cattle which we have got to help muster and do scanning, where with a veterinarian and a scanning machine similar to Ultrasound the ewes are scanned to determine whether they will give birth to one, two, or zero lambs. With this information the ewes are separated and are fed accordingly as to how many lambs they are carrying. We have also played many rounds of golf on their nine hole course which the family designed and built themselves. The course is unique in that the grounds are maintained not by lawnmowers and greens keepers, but by sheep! Only the greens need to be mowed, and the only drawback to this system is that you might find a bit of poo lying next to your ball, no worries just flick it aside and off you go. Although the greens fees are only ten dollars per round, the course is closed durring the winter so we have had the course and its experience all to ourselves. In addition to some beautiful hiking trails around the property, we have also got to brush up on our shotgun skills with a few rounds of shooting clays, it's a blast.
And next we are making one more stop on the North Island in Castle Point, then on to the South Island where we will be staying at a high country station (farm) and doing some mean snowboarding. I just picked up a '04 Burton Custom X on Trademe and ready to go! Im super stoked!
Oh, and I cut my beard..
One Love, Miss you guys!