Friday, January 27, 2012

Auckland, New Zealand

The ship got into port in Auckland too late for Susan and I to catch a flight home that day, so we booked a tour in the afternoon that took us to the rain forest and one of the black sand beaches.
One of the first stops on the tour was to see this waterfall. Susan walked to the base of the falls to take this picture.

Next we went to the Arataki Visitor Center where we saw these stunning views.

These are the leaves of the Kauri tree. The Kauri is one of the largest trees in New Zealand. It grows between Te Puke and Kawhia. The bark is shed in large flakes to discourage vines and perching plants from clinging on. Both male and female cones are produced on the same tree and following pollination a small winged seed is produced.

Our next stop was to Piha Beach, well known for surfing championships, in fact one was being held while we were there. The sand is black due to the iron concentration, which also makes the sand get very hot, very quickly when the sun shines.

Our guide had a magnet that we could put down in the sand to see the iron concentration.

This rock formation on the beach is called Lion Rock. The surf was high the day we were there and we watched some people taking surfing lessons. To us, they did not look like they were making much progress.

Next we went for a short walk into the rain forest from a national park. The trail we walked on was part of the Hillary Trail. This trunk shows the size of some of the trees that grow in this region. We were told that the largest tree still living is twice the size of this one.

Susan is inside the same trunk taking a picture of me taking a picture of her.

We really enjoyed Auckland and would have liked to spend more time there. The area around the city is just absolutely beautiful.