January 12, 2024 Blenheim to Rangiroa (Day 107)

After a good nights sleep we had a leisurely morning before we had to catch our 2:05pm train back to Rangiroa. As we relaxed, enjoying our view of the park from our balcony, we spotted a little train chugging towards us along the river. The tracks we thought were abandoned from old infrastructure are used for a tourist train in the park!We checked out at 1pm and headed to the train station and enjoyed a snack at the restaurant at the train station. In fact there is no ‘train station’, nowhere to get a ticket or ask a question. The whole building is a restaurant now. All train related activity is done on the internet before your trip!

The station is restored and well taken care of!

We boarded a little late and started our journey south. Before we reached the ocean we traveled along the Big Lagoon.We crossed the Awatere river a little further south.

A big bridge over a shrunken river.

Then we passed Lake Grassmere and the saltworks. Not a freshwater lake, fed by a river, but a seaside lagoon that is managed in order to move seawater into progressively shallower ponds that wind evaporates leaving salt to be shovelled up. The ponds turn pink in the summer from algae in the water that becomes pink as the salinity increases, and tiny pink shrimp flourish.

As the tracks approached the seashore and ran along the rocky coast we spotted the ‘crayfish shacks’ along the road. The ‘crayfish’ are rock lobsters and lack the huge claws of the Maine lobsters we are familiar with. The commentary on the train told us that families have run these shacks for years, harvesting the ‘crays’ from the local waters.We spotted a Pouwhenua (land post) at a picnic/rest area along the road. It is a wooden post used by Maori to mark territorial boundaries or places of significance.We will have to drive the route one day to find out the significance of this pouwhenua!

We arrived back in Rangiora at about 7pm and headed out for dinner before getting back to our B&B, exhausted from so much sightseeing!

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