The bus ride was an adventure. We get up at 6 to get to the stop, which is really just a spot in the middle of a city block. At least there were a few others gathered so we knew we were in the right spot. Our host, Pat, was gracious enough to get us there with a ride in his car. The luggage would have been too heavy to carry the 3 blocks from the B&B! The first bus to arrive was a nice double-decker, the seats on the first level have tables. I am thinking yeah-my kind of ride with free wifi!!! The bus driver gets out and then…we have no idea what he is saying. He rattles off a bunch of towns…none of them sound familiar. He says the names a few times until Shawn goes up and asks him if he is going to Opua. He says no, but it is the only bus there at the time we were supposed to be picked up. Finally, the driver says he is going south and asks is there anyone else going south. Several more people get up and get on and off he goes. Now, the company is called the Naked Bus Company and they bought out the local Red Bus Company. That first bus was from the Red Bus Company. About 15 minutes later, a Naked Bus shows up. Yep, just a basic Greyhound-type bus. Shawn figured the original bus broke down and they sent this one. Well, the original driver must have broken down as well as this guy was not at all familiar with the route. Also, even though it says on the bus outside in BIG letters that there is free wifi, the driver says that he does not think there is wifi on this bus. Argh. We do ask to make sure that he is going north and yes, he is.
The driver was very unique. His favorite phrase…sweet as. Just slang, meaning that what you are suggesting is ok with me. He also enjoyed dropping people off wherever they ask! Sweet as. Running over an orange construction cone did not seem to bother him in the least. At least he was not texting during that mishap. And Shawn had to tell him where our bus stop was. How did he know? Shawn had marked it on his google maps on the phone and the GPS tracked us all the way. When were literally dropped off on a hill on the side of the road. Suddenly we hear this voice..” are you Shawn?” That was our ride to the marina! Sweet as.
The bus ride itself was about 2 hours. I did enjoy seeing the rolling hills and the names of the different towns we were passing: Frogpool Farm, Dome forest, Whangarei, and Opua. Very lyrical names. We also saw a lot of black and white dots on the hills in the distance. Cows and sheep! We also passed a few wineries, but no time to stop. Oh well!
The hills are very strange with all these ridges on them. Not sure why they are there. Perhaps the sheep walk and create them? I am really thinking that they are created but the volcanic eruptions that created the islands. Evidently, this is a very young continent in geological terms.
We have noticed that there are vast areas of farmland interspersed with sections of very tall pine trees. When we were in Scotland, there was a landscape that was very similar. Scotland used to be full of trees, but a couple of hundred years ago the people were very suspicious and they thought goblins and scary people lived in the forests. So, they cut them down. Currently, they are in the process of reforestation. We find out later that in some areas the pine trees are a nuisance and they cut them down to retain the original grasses.
We did see a lot of trucks hauling logs and a funny skinny track train carrying some as well. There was even a sign proclaiming that wood is good for building. There are still conflicting views today as to how the forests should be handled. The Government implemented a timber management program to help sustain natural forests.
According to Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand,
“A national survey in 1946–55 showed that native forests had not regenerated as expected, and the Forest Service decided to reduce the cutting of native trees. But there was a post-war building boom. Government price controls on timber and pressure from sawmill owners made it difficult to limit logging. It expanded in the South Island, especially in Nelson and Westland. Total native timber production held steady throughout the 1950s”
Today, you will still see lumber rolling down the tracks, but it is harvested in such a way that allows the forests to regenerate. There is also a lot more import of trees from other areas creating new forests, while many of the original trees to New Zealand are now gone.
Off to go sailing!