Three Sisters

Opheila was doing her best to try to navigate the wet roads. Her wipers flicked back and forth, unable to decide on a speed. A Kiwi trailed us about three feet back. The winding road meant there wouldn’t be a passing lanes for a while.

My plan was to head to New Plymouth to do the coastal walk, but I failed to check the weather. Two hours of driving in rain had been enough for me. I saw a sign leading to the Three Sisters. A physical one, that is.

I vaguely remembered reading about the Three Sisters. I can’t remember what the article said, but name recognition was enough.

As luck would have it, there is a freedom camping site right next to the beach.

The Three Sisters are only accessible (by walking along the beach) within two hours on either side of low tide. With no internet, I started walking to see if I had time. I did not. But, as I arrived early in the day, I had time to wait.

The Three Sisters are a set of large rocks stuck in the ocean. The wind and water are slowly wearing them down, but an information placard assured me that these forces of nature would also form more to replace them.

Free campsites are the best.

Redwood Forest

After finally navigating my way to the Redwood Forest parking lot, I was greeted (figuratively) by hundreds of fellow tourists. Some were taking a nice run through the forest, while others were maintaining elaborate poses, bent on getting those sweet sweet Instagram likes.

Tourists are able to do a daytime or nighttime hike along suspended bridges, costing $29 each or $39 for both. The nighttime hike offers a combination nature walk/light show. I was more interested I’m the nature, myself.

For the budget travelers, there are also many free walking trails throughout the forest. I opted for one of the longer treks, coming in at 11.5km called the “Tokorangi Pa Track.”

What I didn’t realize, however, is that this trail doesn’t stay in the redwood forest for long. In fact, the second half of the hike traverses roads and intercepts mountain biking tracks.

As such, once I finished that walk, I did another one, a 3.4km walk called the “Quarry Track.” This one stayed in the forest.

The redwood trees themselves tower over those venturing between them. Your neck gets tired long before your feet.

It is a highly recommended activity for anyone in the area.

After the hours of walking, I made my way to a free lakeside campsite in Mangakino. Amazing what beautiful places you can find if you know where to look.

One final thought:

On the Road Again – Okere Falls and Other Water Sources

Lack of sleep led to skipping breakfast. Skipping breakfast led to being cranky. Being cranky led to taking off from work at 10am rather than 5pm. Taking off work early led to a full day of traveling.

Okere falls sits about 20km north of Rotorua, barley escaping the sulfer smell that encompasses the city. What the waterfalls here lack in size, they make up for in intensity. Immedietly upon exiting the van, a roaring current can be heard.

A stairway from the parking lot leads down to a nice view of the rapids.

Back up the staircase and on the other side of the parking lot, the longer trail splits off into a labyrinth of smaller trails, each leading to varying quality of view. My favorite spot is in the header image.

On the way to my next destination I got lost and ended up at a neat lake.

The plan is to spend another two weeks seeing more of the North Island, then a few days in Wellington. South Island early December. Mark you calendars. But don’t really. It would just confuse people.

Stringing – Kiwifruit

“You all did a shit job.”

Today was, by almost all standards, not a great day.

A few bees flew in my window. Their hive was concealed by a bend in the road, and my windows were down in response to the oppresive heat.

We were told early on to wrap still green Kiwifruit branches along string leading upward to a central point. This string helps to train the kiwifruit plants to grow in the right direction. It seems like we never quite figured out how.

I was hungry and cranky and negative all day.

But, it still was a good day. I made some good money. I got to chat with some of my new friends and compatriots. I was outside all day in a green field. I felt the breeze on my face as I worked.

Plus, having a few “bad” days helps you to appreciate the good ones, or so I’m told.

Still here working, but I will be updating the blog more starting again early next week!

Bud Thinning – continued

I dodged the mass of side flowers heading in my direction. Or, at least, most of them. My right eye started throbbing in pain. Jaime had taken the shotgun approach to throwing the buds at me. One was bound to land. He had been collecting the side flowers for about fifteen minutes now without attacking. The game wasn’t fun after that.

There is an old thought experiment that asks how long a person would last transporting empty boxes from one side of a warehouse to the other. Back and forth, all day. The pay is great. Benefits, breaks, etc. The idea is that a job must have meaning, and eventually no amount of money can compensate for that fact. No coworkers, no music, no even ambient sounds apart from those made by you or the boxes.

Many people never face this experiment in the real world, so most can just dream how long they would last. For those in New Zealand during bud thinning season, however, you can get pretty close.

At the end of each day, I wonder if my time was well spent removing 2/3s of the buds on a kiwifruit plant. Day after day. So far I have made it a week.

I try to think back to our ancestors, how their life was likely similar to this. It helps a bit.

Without audiobooks or the company of my compatriots, three days is how long I would have lasted. Fortunately, we are allowed to listen to music, podcasts, or whatever. The bosses aren’t strict about talking, either.

The work isn’t the worst in the world, but I doubt a more unfulfilling job could be created.

What is worse, this has been a rainy week. Sometimes we stand around waiting for the rain to let up. Some days we go home. Some days the supervisor doesn’t show up and we start working randomly.

We have one supervisor who is intent on standing right behind me as we work. He knows my name, but not anyone else’s. Big mistake. He tells me to go faster, or I missed too much. I smile, nod my head, then go on doing exactly as I have been. Later he compliments me for my fast work.

His presence doesn’t make us go any faster, but it gives him something to do between his bouts of talking to his friends on the phone.

Posts will be sparse for the next week or two, but I will try to put out a few. I will post more when I start doing more interesting things again.