Those are birds!

Yes, those white spots are birds! Gannets, to be precise and if you look closely you can see them on top of two other cliffs in addition to the one in the foreground.

This is the Muriwai Gannet Colony and the following is scavenged directly from the interweb… From August to March, about 1200 pairs of gannets nest here at Muriwai Beach, under two hours from and almost due west of Auckland.

The nests are just inches apart.  Each pair lays one egg and the parents take turns on the nest.  The chicks hatch naked, but within a week are covered in fluff.  Their feathers continue to mature until the fateful day when it’s time to take the one-shot jump off the cliff.

Once airborne, the young gannets leave the colony and cross the Tasman Sea to Australia.  A few years later, the surviving birds return here to secure a nest site at the colony. 

I’ve got a great video of the colony in action, which hopefully you can view by clicking the upcoming link since I have yet to rectify the blog’s video widget.  Sigh.  The link is not working either, but in attempting to figure all this out,  I did discover (rediscover?) I have a YouTube Channel associated with this website, so there you go and Bob’s your Uncle.  The fix for now is for you to copy and paste the links to your browser on a separate page.  Sorry for the trouble, but it’s a great video, as they both are on this post…..if I do say so myself.  😉

I visited the Gannet Colony today on my way from the Kauri Forests to Piha Beach, which is just a bit further south and is my stop for the next three nights.  But before we move on to beautiful Piha, let’s backtrack to the Kauri Coast, which I loved and had particularly chosen so I could see the largest remaining Kauri Forests containing the two biggest living Kauri trees. Kauri is pronounced, Cow-ree, by the way.

Since it was the closest place to the trees, I stayed in a room/cabin at the Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park/campground, which I can highly recommend if you’re ever out this way.  Tracy, the manager, is one of the friendliest and most accommodating gals I’ve met here and that’s saying an awful lot since New Zealander’s are an exceedingly friendly lot as a whole.  Amazingly enough, I stopped at a little store along the way touting Kauri wood and Kauri Gum where I enjoyed a long and delightful chat full of laughter with the owner, who turns out to be Tracy’s Mom!  I love it!

There was copious amounts of rain while I was there, yet I enjoyed it thoroughly…one, because of the trees, and two, because of the people I met in this remote west coast location.

I took the video below in the Trounson Kauri Park, very near the campground.  What a wonderful walk through a wonderful wood.  You can see one or two large Kauri, which are ginormous, but as you will soon see, don’t hold a candle to the two Greats.  Take a look.

After this completely delightful visit, I moved up the very windy road to the much larger, Waipoua Kauri Forest-home to the two oldest and largest living Kauri Trees on earth.

Te Matua

16.41 meters is just shy of 54 feet!  Te Matua, the Father of the Forest is the second largest living Kauri Tree, but is considered the older of the two and over 2000 years old.  It is hard to get perspective from this photo, but due to the very fragile and close to the surface roots of the tree, people are kept at quite a distance.  You’ll get a better sense of their size in the photos below.

Tane Mahuta

Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, indeed. Even with the people on the boardwalk closer to the tree, it’s hard to appreciate the majesty of these trees, so I took a photo of a photo I saw in the Kauri Museum to help demonstrate.

This is Te Matua, in the 1950s maybe, I don’t remember what the plaque said. Many blessings upon these trees who are struggling to survive the “dieback disease”.  Fortunately there is a grand effort being made on their behalf.  Way to go New Zealand!!!

After such a lovely time in the forests, I headed out to Maunganui Bluff to check out the Tasman at the suggestion of my new American expat friends, who live very near the campground….more on them in a minute. After the bluff, I stopped at The Tavern, the only restaurant for miles and miles and miles, for some takeaway.  I was awfully appreciative of its presence because it would be toast and honey once again and as good as it is, I’m happy for variety.

Lots of sights on the way out to the bluff including these little teepee goat houses and watching a herd of goats leading themselves out of one fenced pasture, up the road, across the single lane bridge, and into another fenced pasture. Clearly this wasn’t their first great escape as they navigated their way through both fences and closed gate with ease.  I guess the grass must have been greener…

Wildflowers cover the sides of the roads wherever I go.  A riot of color and beauty, but these must be the most unusual of them all.

And now, saving the best for last, the serendipitous morning tea with Mary and Dan, my new friends from the interweb.

It was raining cats and dogs as I sat in my little room at the campground scrolling through Facebook.  A few days prior, I had posted a group of photos on a New Zealand Travel Tips page saying what I wonderful time I was having on my trip thus far.  You see, this page had been recommended to me months ago and has been very helpful in my planning and folks like to see what other folks are doing around the Country.  Well, one of the commenters was a gal named Mary who said, if I was heading to the Waipoua Forest area, see these sights on the way… I wrote back saying I was at the Top 10 in the area already, when Dan chimed in saying they were just up the hill from me and, it being a very rainy Monday morning, why didn’t I come for tea.  So it was arranged, Mary would put muffins in the oven to bake and I would show up at 11.  

Their house was barely a 2 minute drive from my little abode at the campground!  Who believes it!?!  I do!  I do!

I met them at their home situated on a handful of beautiful wooded and open acres complete with bach, and enjoyed their company immensely for going on 2 hours.  

Mary and Dan are originally from Michigan and had lived on their sailboat for many, many years, traveling near and far around the globe,  They came to NZ on holiday in 2005 and never left.  After purchasing the property, they lived in the bach while they themselves converted the 4 car garage/shed into the warm and inviting home they now live in.  We had so much fun talking a mile a minute and I feel sure we will stay in touch.  What a fine couple they are.  Please say hello to Mary and Dan.  Can’t you see how wonderful they are just from the photo

That’s it for now.  The hikes of Piha are calling, so stay tuned.

Until next time…



  • Zac

    November 28, 2022

    I love this so much! THIS is why we travel right here. Those chance encounters bringing the digital world into the real world, that gulf that seems like an abyss turning into nothing more than a few minutes drive. 🙂

    • Margie

      November 29, 2022

      I love this so much too! And I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. So true.

  • Hill

    November 29, 2022

    Those rock birds seemed so orderly and evenly spaced in the photo. Thanks for splainin’ about the nesting situation which accounts for where everybody hands out. Fun hearing about your connection with the sailors.

    • Margie

      November 29, 2022

      What fun it was to meet with Mary and Dan. You can’t see it in the picture, but they used no longer used sails as their interior ceiling material. So clever and so much better than regular ol’ paint! The entire house is quite creative with very unique touches here and there. You’d love it.

  • Silver Hjellen

    December 6, 2022

    What a delightful visit with two delightful folks—love the idea of Mary and Dan using their old sails for their ceiling–how creative and environmental friendly! I like their old wooden flooring too–looks like recycling again.
    So important that the people of NZ are protecting their majestic Te Matua and their Tane Mahuta trees—are they one in the same?

    • Margie

      December 6, 2022

      Hi Ho Silver!!! It always makes my heart smile to hear from you. I too support the protection of the trees, especially given almost the entirety of the North Island was logged down to bare mud back in the day. Te Matua and Tane Mahuta are two different Kauri trees, given these special names since they are the oldest and largest Kauri trees left. More are growing now of course, but these are the two remaining giants and have been growing for 1500-2000 years..


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