Thursday, January 27, 2011

Five Days in the Life, in Photos

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Kaitaia, Far North

Here's a bit of a photo essay (perhaps slightly out of order) and at the bottom, some more description of our life on the road. We are having such an amazing time so far, and due to the warmth of the season and how much effort we have put into our relationship recently, we are both agreed that we rock at this lifestyle, this time around. We are constantly giddy with the fun and newness of our adventures and being here together, and are loving not knowing where we'll end up each day, and proud of being game for whatever the next challenge is, whether it be finding a place to freedom camp, dealing with only a few hours' sleep due to a huge swarm of mosquitoes inside the van, or figuring out how to cook dinner in 20 knot winds.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Tuesday morning at Snells Beach.

Dinner in a park in Waipu, Tuesday night.

Walking around the mud flats at the Waipu River Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday morning.

 Above Mangawhai Heads on Tuesday afternoon.

 Mural of a fantail and Nikau palms on the restrooms at Snells Beach. 

The river mouth at Mangawhai Heads, Tuesday.

The view we woke up to on Wednesday.

 Crazy rock formation near the Abbey Caves, Whangarei. Wednesday.

 The waterfront in Whangarei, Wednesday afternoon.
Whangarei Falls:
 Morning at our roadside campsite near Baylys Beach, Thursday. 

 Trounson Kauri Park, Thursday.

Matt and the Four Sisters kauris, Waipoua Forest, Thursday.

 Te Matua Ngahere, "Father of the Forest," New Zealand's oldest Kauri tree. To stand in front of this ancient tree was incredible. Aged at around 2,500 years old, Te Matua was in New Zealand for 1,500 years before the Maori ever came to Aotearoa, and was probably alive during the lifetime of Christ.

 Not the biggest Kauri tree. Girth (circumference) at breast height is 53 feet, and the tree contains 78,000 feet of board timber.

Standing in front of this tree, it was impossible for me to believe that a being like this does not possess untold amounts of wisdom, memory, thought and soul.

 "Don't forget the tree!" Despite my goofy posture, we were in total awe and respect of these trees.

 This is Tane Mahuta, the largest living New Zealand Kauri tree. "God of the Forest," estimated to be 1,500-2,000 years old, with a circumference of 14 metres and a height of 51m.

This tree is epic in hugeness and age. The largest and oldest kauri every documented burnt down in the 1890s. It was estimated to have been 4,000 years old at that time.

 Somewhere in the Far North, Thursday.

 One of many roadside picnic lunches. Waipoua Forest visitor's centre, Thursday. 

Leaving the village of Rawene via ferry, on Hokianga Harbour. Thursday.

Ahipara, the Far North, Thursday evening. 

It feels like we've been everywhere in the last several days, but it hasn't been so rushed that we haven't been able to take it all in. I feel like we have sufficiently absorbed all that we've seen, and made time to see the things that are important to us. And we really have the van-camping lifestyle down this time. We've barely spent anything so far besides for petrol, thanks to menu planning and stocking up before we left Taranaki. Unlike our previous van-travels, it is summer now, and the warmth means easier camping. We can shower outside now, which means either using our solar shower, washing off in the ocean and then rinsing with freshwater, or using the public showers at a surf beach and quickly soaping and shampooing while in our bathing suits. We have mastered the scrub-down bath, which can be done either at a sink in public restrooms, or out of a dishpan at a campsite. I can wash my hair in the dishpan as well, and having short hair is ideal for camping- no tangles, no worries, and easily held back with a bandanna when it gets a bit greasy. We've spent to money so far on showers, campsites, or laundry, and are perfectly content so far. We fill up our water containers at public parks or restrooms (which exist in every New Zealand town, no matter its size), and although we have to buy bagged ice for the chilly bin every 2-3 days (and they don't make block ice in this country, only cubed), we keep it in tupperware containers in the cooler and then drink the water when it melts. We pick up rubbish whenever we find it on the beach or the side of the road, and have become particularly resourceful when it comes to spotting a good camping place (well off main roads and out of everyone's way are the rules for a good freedom camping site, and the presence of other campervans is always a good thing). In spite of all the driving, we are both proud of what a low-impact lifestyle we are living otherwise. We always pack out our trash, and make use of public facilities to the maximum. We are conscientious of our surroundings and make sure we take good care of ourselves. Matt even suggested that we take a few minutes every evening to do some fun little project for stress relief. Even though we are having fun and it has been very low-stress so far, it is a great idea and has added a fun new component to our lives on the road. Some of our activities so far have included shoulder massages, coloring, and telling silly stories.

And not least, life in the van is made comfortable by a mosquito-screen skylight that Matt built a while ago, which fits into the rear sunroof, providing us with ventilation and views of the stars at night. It's a pretty great place to sleep, with the sounds of crickets (SO loud right now) and birds and usually some cows throughout the night, and the breeze blowing in, but not the bugs.

We're living the dream, really. The dream we had for a long time, of living nearly for free, with all of our possessions with us, not needing the amenities of a "comfortable" life, and doing well with what we have. Here we are, doing exactly that, and loving it! 

Yep, life is pretty good right now!

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