Friday, April 15, 2016

1264 Stair Steps

Plus at least a dozen bridges- three of which were cool but wobbly suspension bridges, and miles of up and down tracks – that was yesterday's adventure. We took a four hour trek to the Lower Kauri Dam on the Kaiaraara Trail. The walk was as challenging as the trails name! We did not originally set out to make it all the way to the dam … but it was an absolutely perfect day for a walk. The temperature was cool, the sky was perfectly blue and the sun was out. It is what New Zealand weather forecasts call "periods of fine." We started off with the plan to get to the first suspension bridge, a trek we did before. But we decided to keep going (this trail was closed last year) and see how far we would get. The trail, like most DOC tracks, is very well maintained. This one has lots of wooden stairs built into the hills (632 to be exact) to help control erosion as well as protect the black petrol nests in the area.

The trail took us through lots of kauri trees and we had to do the shoe cleaning routine. There is an area where there are hard brushes for cleaning the bottom of your shoes and then you spray them with a disinfectant. This is supposed to help protect the kauri tree from what is a root disease called kauri dieback disease. The kauri forests on Great Barrier Island had been logged intensely between the 1880s and 1930s. The kauri dam we went to see was part of the logging operations and the track we hiked followed an old logging route. The dam was built in the 192os and along with the smaller dams built upstream, contained seven million feet of timber. They were designed to send big kauri logs down the stream. The logs would be loaded into the stream and the dams tripped to send the logs cascading downstream into the bay where we are anchored.

The large old growth trees are long gone, but they are working hard to regenerate the kauri. The kauri was a much sought after wood for boats and building as it is a hard wood and the trees were very large in diameter. Many of the classic New Zealand sailboats are made of kauri wood.

The kauri dam, our destination, is quite destroyed at this point. There are just a few logs left in place. Between all the slips (landslides) and age, the large logs have been displaced and there is very little left. The trail took us over many bridges – some hard wooden ones as well as three incredible suspension bridges that wobble as you walk on them. They are all feats of engineering placed in these remote places. On the return our legs were a bit wobbly and on the wobbly bridges it was like being aboard Astarte in a rough sea.

It was one of our better hikes and we were very glad to have done it – though we got back quite exhausted with jelly legs and aching knees and hips.

We came over to Kaiaraara Bay from Smokehouse Bay on Thursday morning. The wind was predicted to pick up later in the day and come from the easterly quadrant – not the best direction for Smokehouse. The wind did indeed start to grow and we saw the low 20s for awhile but were well situated in this protected bay with big hills to dampen the wind. As we arrived here, we saw the tamest little blue penguin ever. We could have dropped our anchor on his little head as he just swam nearby and watched us. They are so darned cute! It was a good day to move as we did have rain and squally weather through most of the afternoon and night. But we awoke to a very calm day. It was calm enough that we took a dinghy run into Port Fitzroy – the little town a bay away. We needed some bread after being away from Auckland now for 11 days (anything to not have to bake bread!) It was an easy dinghy trip and good to give the dinghy outboard run at a high speed. The other good thing about Port Fitzroy is we could get rid of our garbage – they have a great recycling area here. With bread aboard and garbage disposed of – heck, we can stay another few weeks here!

Before leaving Smokehouse, Michael continued to do some work on the plumbing – anything to try to get a hot shower. He donated a few plumbng parts from our boat supply to try to get it sorted...but still no joy. It seems the leak may be in the water tank liner. That's a project out of our area of expertise.

It has been really nice to be on Great Barrier – and perhaps we'll explore a few new anchorages...or not!
At 4/15/2016 8:27 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 36°11.03'S 175°21.62'E

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