It's another bright-eyed and bushy-tailed morning for Jay and I as we make our way down towards the waterfront to wait for the ferry. The adventure on today's menu? Trekking the awesome, volcanic Rangitoto Island with our two new Canadian pals, Christa and Heather. While it's only a roughly 25 minute boat ride over, anyone who knows me knows that the slightest motion in the ocean can make me heave like a drunken sailor. So with a Gravol in hand and a prayer in my heart, I pop the little white pill and hope for the best.
While we wait, Jay and I watch the boats swaying to and fro and just the sight of them is almost enough to bring that lovely shade of green I once sported on the Bell Island ferry back to my face. Soon, the girls arrive and it's all hands on board. We choose seats on the top deck and once we get going, thankfully, it turns out the water's not as loppy as I thought. We serenely sail on past the pretty little seaside village of Devonport and then reach Rangitoto Island in record time.
Rangitoto literally translated means "Bloody Sky" in Maori, which is quite fitting, since an epic Maori battle was fought here many moons ago. Today, the island is a peaceful, pretty little place with a handful of baches (holiday homes - for those who didn't see my last entry) peppered along the waterfront amidst the huge ferns and black lava stones.
We have two options: take the land train to see the sights while kicking back, or explore the island by foot. We choose the latter. Walking around the island, I feel like I've stepped back in time. One of the most amazing things that strikes me as I wander around is the fact that (as in the rest of New Zealand) there is nothing in the forest that will attack and/or eat me! No bears, coyotes, moose - absolutely NOTHING - will be jumping out at me today, or any day while I'm here, as there are NO natural predators in the country. Hooray!
As we walk along, Jay and I and our new friends get to know each other a bit better. I tell the girls a bit about my home (including everything from Downhome to "Republic of Doyle"), and they tell us about their work in the emergency preparedness field and the barefoot running club in their area (those crazy Winnipegians!). Our excited chatter begins to crescendo when finally we stumble upon the entrance to the lava caves! Whipping out our flashlights - or "torches" as they call them here in New Zealand - and headlamps, we dive in like an excited gaggle of Fraggles. It's times like these that I'm grateful I'm not claustrophobic!
After exploring several caves, we make our way further up towards the summit. Even though the day is shrouded in fog, and a tad windy (it kind of feels like home!) the view from the top does not disappoint. Click here to watch a video Jay took at the peak.)
After a quick snack, some photos and a chat with fellow hikers, we head back down again, exploring some World War II bunkers along the way. We all pile back onto the boat and I decide to be extra adventurous and forgo the Gravol this time. As we sail back, we are treated to the sights of some windsurfers enjoying the waves. Apparently, even the most overcast of days can't keep those Kiwis indoors!
About me...Linda Browne I recently quit my job as staff writer at Downhome, boxed up all of my belongings, sold the car and moved out of my apartment - all to hang out in New Zealand for a while. Will it all be worth it? Keep reading to find out!