Kawau Island

The following day Jenny drives us down to the bay and we take a small ferry out to the big island of Kawau. The little boat makes a number of stops in the various bays of the island to deliver post bags and building materials. Passengers disembark for holiday baches on the shore. We do he same at the old Governor’s residence dating from the nineteenth century. The whole island was cultivated by him as a botanical garden and has many species of plant both native and imported. We walk up and over a hill covered in trees and ferns. It is here that we first really become acquainted with the song of the tui. This bird is ubiquitous in New Zealand. it is said to have two voice boxes and produces the most extraordinary musical tones which fill the woodlands.

Eventually we arrive at a disused copper smelting plant. Some of the rocks of the area are coloured rich cerulean and pale green by copper compounds. There are the rusting remains of a steam engine boiler. There is a smelting oven with its chimney made of big stone blocks which would not look out of place on a Yorkshire moor. But what must once have been a busy if compact industrial site is now deserted and tranquil. The waters of the inlet lap around about. The tuis flute and chime. A gannet flies past.
We walk back by another track with views through tall trees to steep drops over the intense blue-green water of the Pacific. There is a downhill walk through an enchanted gully of fern trees to the big house again. There is time for a quick look around before the ferry arrives. The interior looks like a real home. There is an airy and light feeling to the whole place. Scuffs on the banisters are the ghosts of boisterous children’s games.
On to a local pottery. You can watch the stages of the process of manufacture of big, chunky plates and urns here. You can look at a vintage potter’s wheel which was driven by steam. Or, like us, you can sit outside, among well tended plants, to drink tea and eat cake.
Back to Jenny’s for a delicious light lunch washed down with water flavoured with a lemon which I pick straight off the tree. We take a look at her excellent studio space in a big old garage. She is experimenting with acrylics and the results brighten the walls with fresh colours. Later we are treated to another excellent dinner. The guests eat well at Jenny’s hotel! We are sent of to bed early for our early morning start next day.
In the morning we have to wrench ourselves away from this wonderful haven. Jenny drives us to a state park nearby at Anchor Bay so we can get a view of the genuine New Zealand bush. The area has been fenced off to keep out predators in an attempt to return it to its primeval condition. We walk along a track and enter an area of fern trees and other native species. Instantly there is a weird change in the quality of the birdsong. It is alien, somehow more primitive. It is a very odd experience. Sadly we cannot stay long.
Jenny runs us in to the Hertz depot on Auckland’s North Shore. We pick up our car and resist the temptation to kidnap Jenny and take her with us as combo guide, housekeeper, cook and mum.
We head south on highway one.
If there was ever a warmer welcome given to any visitors to New Zealand then they were indeed fortunate


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