We started the day off watching the Rugby World Cup Semifinals, NZ All Blacks vs. Argentina Pumas, at 8am. By 9:30 when we left the house, NZ was at 34 vs. Argentina 6. We found a radio station and listened for the next half hour as we drove to Kawakawa to catch a train. We arrived before the game ended, but heard later that NZ scored another 10 points! The All Blacks head to the finals vs. either England or South Africa! This weekend happens to be NZ’s ‘Labour Weekend’ (we call it Labor Day). Our Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer, their Labour Weekend is their symbolic beginning of summer! As such, lots of activities are happening over the weekend. We opted for the Vintage Railway train ride, with the steam engine pulling the 4 rail cars!
We had a great time riding the rails to Taumarere, crossing “over the Long Bridge, the longest curved wooden bridge in the Southern Hemisphere”.
We took lots of video and hope to post it soon. When we returned to Kawakawa we learned that it’s not only famous for the Vintage Railway, but also for it’s public toilets, yes toilets! So we had to go see them!
The toilets and mural were designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian born artist and architect who also worked for environmental protection. He made a nearby NZ farm his home for almost 3 decades, from the 1970’s until his death in 2000.
We still had a half day to fill so we continued our travel west towards the coast which we reached in a little over an hour. The weather changed from finally sunny in Kawakawa to misty, very windy and very overcast as we approached Opononi. We continued until the overlook at the South Head of the inlet to Hokianga Harbour. We walked out to the viewpoint, the old station that warned ships of the treacherous shifting sand bars that guard the harbour’s entrance.
We braved the wind for a few more photos then headed north to Rawene where we caught a car ferry across a narrow section of Hokianga Harbour and drove up to Kohukohu. Once a busy town with timber mills and shipbuilding it is now a quaint town that boasts many turn of the century houses built of local kauri wood (now very scarce and carefully protected).
We headed home to complete our circular travel. The sun popped through the clouds to illuminate green hills dotted with cattle and sheep. Very bucolic!