I think I’ve fallen in love. I vowed to be very cautious about forming new relationships in the aftermath of losing my partner of 44 years and leaving Hawai’i. I’ve been traveling most of the time for the past 14 months, and met many interesting people and seen some beautiful and unusual places. Yet I’m very aware that there is the phenomenon of ‘falling in love’ and that it is not the same as ‘being in love’. Jung is my main advisor on this topic. This leads me to be especially cautious about the exuberance and enthusiasm of new love. I will in due course tell you all about The Object of My Affection (we’ll call her TOMA for short for the moment). You may wonder why I am being uncharacteristicly verbose, or perhaps if you don’t know me, whether I’m getting paid by the word to write this. I’m not getting paid a dime for this, trust me. The purpose of this verbosity is to not reveal the identity of TOMA in the first screen you see, and thus maintain a bit of suspense about TOMA.
TOMA has many lovely qualities. She is exceptionally beautiful, with a warmth we often only find in the tropics. There is a calm and and unspoiled quality about her that is endearing. My dear partner Judy had an unusual quality: whenever you were near her, you were in a zone of peaceful happiness that was contagious. TOMA has a similar effect. If you come under her spell, you find you want to stay and get to know her much better. The problem I’m having is whether this will turn out to be just an infatuation that will pass. I’m just not sure yet, so I’m being cautious about committing.
If you’ve stayed with me this long, you deserve to meet TOMA. So here is the first of many pictures of her: (tab down a bit to begin)
TOMA is Northland, the most northerly section of The North Island of New Zealand. Northland is the warmest part of New Zealand, and parts of it are considered to be subtropical. As you will see in the pictures to follow, there are a myriad of beaches and picturesque rocky islets and points, fringed by lush green ferny forests. It is very easy to fall in love with Northland, if you love ocean, beaches, forests and pristine natural areas. It does not exceed Hawai’i in natural beauty, but rather is equally beautiful in a different kind of way.
Less than 4% of the people of New Zealand live in Northland, and half of these are clustered around Whangarei. The result is that other than around a few popular beach village areas, it is lightly populated.
I was led to Northland by my Kiwi family. Katherine, Jeremy, Haley and William invited me to come up with them to their ‘shed’ west of Matapouri. It is about 3 hours drive north of Auckland. Though New Zealand is quite varied in climate zones, I still was surprised to find how different the subtropical climate was such a short drive north. Driving north down under is the same as driving south in the northern hemisphere.
‘Wellington’ Beach (Whangaumu Bay), where I took my first swim. Brrr! Much cooler than Hawai’i, but very pretty. Nothing a 5mm wetsuit would not cure.
The many little coves make for nice mooring spots. Many Kiwis are avid sailors, and you see many keel yachts here, and motor yachts, too. Canoeing and paddle boarding are popular, and I would love to be able to sail a one person boat, such as a Laser, here.
New Zealand has lots of indigenous trees, and so walking here is a natural history experience.
The deep red blossom of the Kiwi ‘Christmas Tree’, (Metrosideros excelsa, or pōhutukawa) has a short flowering season, peaking in mid to late December.
Tane Moana, the biggest remaining Kauri tree in Northland, is more than 11 meters (36 feet) in circumference. It must be more than 500 years old, perhaps 1,000. The oldest Kauri in NZ is estimated to be 2500-3000 years old!
The Kauri are impressive!
No place is perfect. NZ has sandflies, which are annoying. It can rain any time of the year. Electricity is almost as expensive as on the Big Island of Hawaii. Americans are considered by some to be an annoying invasive species (some kidding there, some reality).The Chinese have discovered NZ and are bidding up real estate prices, so they may be in a bit of a property price bubble. However, it has none of the poisonous critters so numerous in Australia, and much to recommend it.
I’ve decided to not buy any land in Northland (just yet), but rather to come back for a month in the future to get to know it better. At the very least, it is an exceptionally interesting place to visit. You could do worse than spend their warmest summer weather time, January through March, here. And most tourists have gone by March, so that would me my month of choice.