Anzac Day

In which Miles observes an interesting display of flags, and ponders the commemoration of Anzac Day.

Anzac Day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand that is observed on the 25th of April each year in remembrance of all Australians and New Zealanders who died in wars and other conflicts.  The original purpose of Anzac Day was to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  Anzac day is also observed in Canada, the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga, and was previously observed in Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

I was driving when I spotted this Anzac Day display beside highway 12 near the mouth of the Hokianga Harbor.  I was attracted by the sight of the 4 flags being flown side by side; the Australia and New Zealand flags as well as the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Maori national flag.


Some local women were discussing how fortunate their family had been; family members had returned from both world wars.  I think they mentioned one or more other wars that family members had survived.  This monument and display commemorates other members of the community who were not so lucky.



In the days before Anzac Day 2015 I was aware of conversations among kiwis about differences in the way the day is observed in Australia and New Zealand.  One kiwi felt that New Zealanders observed Anzac Day by attending dawn services, then having a quiet and solemn day.  He felt that Anzac Day, in New Zealand, is seen as a reminder that war is something to avoid if possible.  He said that in Australia, Aussies spend the day in the pub getting drunk and gambling to games of two-up, and celebrating war and Australian past and future victories.  I placed some bets on games of two-up in a packed pub in The Rocks, near the Opera House in Sydney, while getting drunk with the Australians on Anzac Day about 8 years ago.  I also read a post about the feelings of an Australian on Anzac Day; he observed that the day was becoming less solemn and more jingoistic, which he expressed by saying that it was becoming more American.  There are certainly some differences in the way the day is observed in Australia and New Zealand, but it also seems certain that some of the complaints come down to the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, and to something like the (not-inaccurate) annual complaints about the increasing commercialization of Christmas.  Of course it is also certainly true that most cultures could celebrate war a lot less.


I’ve never actually picked a feijoa, or to my knowledge even seen a feijoa tree.  But I’ve been given many feijoa when the trees start dropping them, as they are right now in New Zealand.

I’m told that feijoa trees are extremely prolific, and if you have one, when they are producing, which happens around this time of year for a relatively short period, you eat feijoa.  A lot of feijoa.  And you give a lot of them away.  Several times, and to every person you know.

Feijoa (Acca sellowiana)

They still sell in stores, even now when people are trying to get rid of them, and they’re not cheap.  But the campground where I’m staying at the moment keeps a full basket at the front desk and encourages people to take and eat them.

It would work very well to cut off the top with a spoon, and spoon out the contents.  But I’ve always found it easier to just bite off the top, and squeeze out the contents like somewhat thicker toothpaste.  The insides are soft and sweet, a little like a fig.

I’m told that there are many feijoa trees around on public land whose fruit is free for the taking.  Advice that I have not yet followed myself is that if you are in New Zealand during feijoa season, find a tree and eat a lot of feijoa.  Or you could just keep a look out for people with to give away.



photo by:


Russell is full of important New Zealand history.  The town was named Kororareka (“sweet penguin”, uttered by a Maori chief while enjoying blue penguin soup) when Captain Cook and crew became the first Europeans in New Zealand by sailing the Endeavor into the Bay of Islands in 1769.

There is a gallery of 49 images below.  To view the on imgur, click here.

An area to the south, at Okiato, was originally named Russell in 1844, after Lord john Russell, British Colonial Secretary at the time.  It served as the first capitol of New Zealand from May 1840 to March 1841, when the capitol was moved to Auckland.  This caused a decline in the economy of the Russel area, which caused resentment among the Maori.  Hone Heke Pokai led warriors to cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka, which was flying the Union Jack and therefore a symbol of England… four times.  After the fourth time the English evacuated to a nearby fort, and shelled the town.  War with the Maori continued until 1846.

There are various ferry services to Russell from Paihia.  I went to Russell both days of the last weekend.  I took the Blue Ferry, pictured below, on all but one crossing.  Neither myself nor any fellow travels were, to my knowledge, on a quest to become a real boy.


Especially on the coast, Russell is a quaint seaside village.


The weather has been very unpredictable for the past week.  The forecast might predict 0% chance of rain, but there would still be brief showers.  They could occur whether it was cloudy or sunny, at any time, with little warning.  It is fortunate that Russell is small, and has attractions both indoors and out.  The showers never lasted for long, and there was always something of interest to do indoors until they passed.

Pompallier Mission


Jean-Baptiste Pompallier established a French Catholic mission in Russell in 1839.  The only building that remains on the site is the printery.  It is first in New Zealand several categories:  first industrial building, first rammed earth building, and first Roman Catholic building.  It printed 40,000 books in Maori.  I found the mission printery quite photogenic; there are quite a few photos in the gallery at the end of this post.

 Russell Museum


Russell has small but interesting museum.  Its exhibits include a 1/5 scale replica of the Endeavor.

 Christ’s Anglican Church


New Zealand’s oldest church was built in 1836.  The outside walls still show musket-ball holes from the battle between the Maori and English over the fourth (successful) attempt to chop down the flagstaff in 1845.

Race relations and the kiwi perspective are very interesting.  Most recommend seeing the church and the musket-ball holes.  One day I talked with a kiwi lad of 35 who spoke in terms of the Maori trying to throw “us” out of the country.  His heritage is Irish and Scottish.  An older gentleman took the opportunity to tell me that the Maori kicked the English out twice… and yet the English continued to act like the Maori couldn’t fight, only allowing them to carry water in WWI.  His heritage too is the British Isles.

Kororareka Point Scenic Reserve and Flagstaff historic Reserve


Kororareka Point Scenic Reserve is just north of Russell, and right next to Flagstaff Historic Reserve, the site where Hone Heke chopped down the flagstaff four times.  The scenery is great and well worth the walk.  The current flagstaff flew no flags on my visit, and I haven’t discovered why, or whether flags ever fly there these days.

Please enjoy the photos below, or on imgur.


The Stone Store and The Mission House are two of the oldest buildings in New Zealand.  The Kerikeri River Track starts just on the other side of the river, and leads to a historic hydro-electric station, Wharepuke Falls, Fairy Pools, and Rainbow Falls.

There is a gallery of 33 pictures below.  To view them on imgur, click here.

I found it easy to follow Google Maps to the Kerikeri Basin Lookout, and park in the car park at the end of Lake Road.  A footbridge crosses the Kerikeri River to the Stone Store and Mission House.

Footbridge over the Kerikeri River.  The bridge leads from the  car park  near the Kerikeri Basin Lookout to the Stone Store, Mission House, and St. James Anglican Church.
Footbridge over the Kerikeri River. The bridge leads from the car park near the Kerikeri Basin Lookout to the Stone Store, Mission House, and St. James Anglican Church.

The Mission House, 1822, is New Zealand’s oldest building.  The Stone Store, 1836, is New Zealand’s oldest stone building.  The Stone Store still sells many of the items it sold back in the 1800s, as well as some interesting gifts.

The Mission House.  New Zealand's oldest building, built in 1822.
The Mission House. New Zealand’s oldest building, built in 1822.
The Stone Store,
The Stone Store,

I found St. James Anglican Church to be very charming and photogenic.  The website has links to some history of the church.  Several older churches, no longer standing, were built on the site and nearby.


Back on the other side of the footbridge is the start of the Kerikeri River Track.  A 3.5km walk (each way, not a loop track) leads first to a historic hyro-electric station station that started producing electricity in 1930 for 17 people in Kerikeri.  Read more about it here.  There is an interesting vertical panorama in the gallery below.

The track then passes Wharepuke Falls…

Wharepuke Falls
Wharepuke Falls

Fairy Pools…

Fairy Pools
Fairy Pools

And Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

Enjoy the full gallery below, or on imgur.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Treaty of Waitangi, the agreement between Māori and England, is seen as New Zealand’s founding document.  It was signed at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on 6 February 1840.

There is a gallery of 33 images below.  To view them imgur, click here.

The grounds had been the site of other important events, including the signing of the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand in 1835.

New Zealanders no longer get in for free; the government has apparently, surprisingly, stopped funding them, and they now charge locals $15.  Guided tour or cultural performance is free to locals however.

The gallery is captioned.  If you prefer posts that tell more of the story of a place, with pictures as illustrations, comment and let me know!

Bay of Islands

You may have observed that I’m visiting the most mainstream tourist destinations.  This is true of my Bay of Islands visit as well.  It has been almost exactly 10 years since I was here, and I only visited this area that one time.  It’s been good to revisit places I’ve been in the past, and to have new experiences as well.

I’ve read that the Bay of Islands is well prepared for tourists.  I’ve taken this as the explanation for finding here in Paihia the first campgrounds that offers free, unlimited internet – the only one I have found so far in New Zealand.  I’ve been working all day today, and it has gone down 3 times, but not for long, and it is very fast; all of the photos in this post uploaded very quickly.  Unfortunately it has been up and down repeatedly while I’m trying to finish editing this post, so the jury is still out.  I’ll give it another chance tomorrow.  Beachside Holiday Park, near Paihia, is a small campgrounds with beach access and a helpful staff – the woman at the front desk pulled my camper van out of trouble after I backed a wheel into a ditch behind my site.  The picture below was taken this evening from the beach at Beachside Holiday Park.

Sunset at Beachside Holiday Park

I started my visit to Bay of Islands with a couple of nights on a boat at Bay of Islands Marina in Opua, visiting a friend.  Bay of Islands Marina is the primary port of entry into New Zealand, easily accessible by boats arriving from Fiji, or Tonga, or almost anywhere north of New Zealand.  Opua is a short drive from Paihia.  The photograph below is a morning view from the boat.

Morning at Bay of Islands Marina in Opua

The panoramas below were shot at the beach in Paihia, right by the scenic reserve, and show Motuarahi Island most prominently.  Several other islands always seem to be visible.  This is the Bay of Islands!

Motuarahi Island view from Paihia
Motuarahi Island view from Paihia

The Opua Forest is very accessible from Paihia.  The i_SITE (information site) in Paihia has some information on some of the nearest tracks that are accessible at the end of School Road, about a 30 minute walk away.  A steep ascent leads to a couple of nice lookouts, and various longer walks are possible as well.  Visit the DOC site for information on the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track, and several other walks from School Road.  3 photos below were taken at the one lookout I visited on the trail.

View from the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track
View from the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track
View from the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track

Haruru Falls can be reached by car, but a track that starts near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and follows the Waitangi River is worth the walk.  It is 5km, about 1.5 hours each way, so if you don’t have someone to meet you it can be a long walk.  There is a car park right where the track starts, but it has several signs warning about vehicle break-ins.  This lot was being chained shut as I arrived back at my car around 5:00pm.  I would suggest parking at the Treaty Grounds, maybe a 10 minute walk away.  A helpful gentleman at the nearby Copthorne Hotel told me that I could park in the hotel lot, but I would recommend asking before you do so.  You can find more information on this walk here.  Enjoy the photos of the walk below, and the captions.

Waitangi River walk
Waitangi River walk
The same tree on my return
View of the Waitangi River
View of the Waitangi River on my return, with lower tide and better view of the mangrove roots
Beginning of the walkway through the mangroves, crossing the Waitangi River
View of mangroves
Walkway through the mangroves


Waitangi River
Waitangi River
Haruru Falls
Haruru Falls
There is no consistent distinction between “cormorants” and “shags”. Kiwis seem to call these shags, while I want to call them cormorants.
The path drops off sharply to the river, which places the nests in the trees below at the perfect level to watch the birds. They were elsewhere when I first passed their nests, but had returned for my walk back.




Parting thoughts on Rotorua

Rotorua is also known in New Zealand as Roto-Vegas, apparently in reference to how touristy it is.  It doesn’t really compare to Las Vegas.  It isn’t as large and it isn’t as crowded, and I don’t remember any neon lights at all.  But I’ve never found much to like in Las Vegas, and I’ve always quite enjoyed my visits to Rotorua.

There is a small gallery of 4 panoramas and one picture of Saint Faith‘s Church below.

April is seen as a good time to visit New Zealand; the weather is definitely changing, but this i seen as a good trade-off for smaller crowds and lower prices.  I visited Rotorua in late March, but at night the streets were usually empty.

Rotorua is also nicknamed “Sulphur City” due to it’s distinctive smell.  The rotten-egg smell of sulphur is a real problem for some people.  I’ve never minded it.  The first time I visited Rotorua, around 10 years ago, it was a chilly early evening when I entered Government Gardens, and the smell and steam drew me to the nearest bubbling pool, where I came to associate the smell of sulphur with warmth.  It has no negative connotations for me.

At the moment it feels a bit silly to talk about having a single favorite place in New Zealand.  But I’ve said it before, and don’t see a reason not to say again: Rotorua is my favorite place in New Zealand.  Some of this is due to easy access from Auckland, making Rotorua a good choice for long weekends.  The geothermal features can be spectacular, and often otherworldly.  They are very photogenic.  And Rotorua is an easy place to visit.

Rotorua TOP 10 Holiday Park is a short walk from central Rotorua, and it offers 500mb of internet free each day of your stay.  I ran out of data a couple of times, but it was very helpful, and it never stopped working when I needed it.  It is a clean and pleasant place to stay.

The 4 panoramas below were taken along the route of the “Sulphur Point Rotorua Walkway” (click the link for more info on this walk).  This walk is something that everyone should do on a visit to Rotorua, and it’s free.  The photos below don’t represent the entire walk, just a small part of it.

I expect to return to Rotorua for further exploration.  I’m currently in Paihia, near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and I expect to post some photos tomorrow.

Waimangu Valley

Mt. Tarawera erupted on June 10 1886, and changed the landscape of Waimangu Valley forever.  Much of the geothermal activity on the surface began on that day, and Waimangu is the only geothermal area in the world for which the exact date of commencement is known.  Development of the geothermal features has been recorded since that date.  Before the eruption Waimangu was the premiere geothermal region in New Zealand; the Pink and White Terrace, sometimes referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, were long believed completely destroyed by the eruption (parts have since been discovered deep beneath the surface of the now much larger Lake Rotomahana), and many of the surface features of the Rotorua area were born that day as well, giving Waimangu some serious competition.

There is a gallery of 23 pictures below.  To view the on imgur, click here.

The walk takes the visitor into the valley, with tantalizing views of the steam rising off of Cathedral Rocks and Frying Pan Lake almost from the start.  Viewing sites appear regularly along the approach, offering gradually better views of these impressive features.


From there the path for the most part follows the stream to the lake, with an opportunity to make the steep climb to the bright blue Inferno Crater Lake, and then to return to the main path, or continue the climb for various interesting geothermal features and spectacular views of the valley.


The path ends at Lake Rotomahana, where the visitor can catch a bus back to the top of the valley, or the boat for a tour of the lake and it’s various sights.



After Wai-O-Tapu, I find Waimangu Valley to be the most amazing and enjoyable geothermal park in the Rotorua area – which makes it 2nd on my list of best things to do when visiting Rotorua.

I still need to add captions to the gallery of 23 pictures below.  To view them on imgur, with captions, click here.

You may have noticed that I offered a bit more info in this post, and included a few images in the text as illustration.  Do you like this approach better?

Do still view the gallery, as a picture paints a thousand words, and the captions offer some additional interesting information as well.

Wai-O-Tapu – Sacred Waters

Wai-O-Tapu – Sacred Waters – is the most extensive and colorful geothermal park in the Rotorua area.  I could have boosted the saturation of these photos a bit more, as I’ve seen done with other pictures of Wai-O-Tapu found on the internet.  They may represent the actual colors somewhat better, but on the other hand it was overcast a lot of the day when I was shooting, and colors of the plants, for example, were starting to look a bit over-saturated.  I am happy with these photos, and I think they speak for the Wai-O-Tapu experience quite well

There is a gallery of 29 photos below.  To view them on imgur, click here.