Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Roadtripping reprised.

A while back I spoke about the joys of Road Tripping. This last weekend we went on a little adventure of the mini-roadtrip variety.

We picked a road out of Dunedin, and drove along it, our eyes peeled for interesting and unusual things. The first place we ended up was Moeraki, where there are these incredible round boulders. Honestly, they look like dinosaur eggs, and are big enough that I struggled to climb up on to one. The myth behind them is as follows: Maori legend tells of a great migration, in large sea going waka or canoes, which brought them to Aotearoa from their ancestral home of Hawaiki. That same legend tells of an ill-fated greenstone gathering trip of the waka of the Araiteuru people which was wrecked nearby.
While the remains of the vessel became a reef and kumara (sweet potato) became rocks, the round food baskets or te kahinaki were washed ashore and formed the almost perfectly spherical boulders scattered along a 50 metre stretch of the beach.
Click on the link for the legend, and a more scientific explanation.

These boulders are really awesome. But what was also wonderful was that the beach was just that: a beach. No punters, or stalls. No ice-cream sellers, or arcades. Just a beach, some awesome rock formations, and sprinklings of very pretty shells (some of which, along with some pretty driftwood, are now decorating our bathroom). A truly wild place. Marvellous.

We decide to head back towards Dunedin after that, but took a roundabout route. We followed a sign that said "Trotter's Gorge" on a whim. It led us to a truly beautiful gorge - like something out of Jurassic Park. Lots of big green ferns, and little caves in the rock face. We did a small walk, roughly an hour long. It was a bit of a work out up the hills (I am *so* out of shape!), but well worth it for the quiet, and the birds, and the general beauty. We ran into a few people while on the walk, and they were all friendly and nice. It was lovely.

We got back to the car, and, after a quick snack of fruit, drove out again. We followed a roundabout route back to Dunedin, which took us a lot longer than expected, but which was really quite exquisite. Seems in winter, it snows up there, since there were signs about the roads being open. There are bits of rock which look like they are left over from ages-ago glaciers sticking up out of green grassy plains, full of sheep. Hills rolling away to the horizon in every direction, with hardly a sign of human habitation. It was spectacular. Dusty, but spectacular.

It ended up being a pretty long drive home, but we discovered some amazing natural beauty close enough to get to in a day. It made me desperately want to move out to the country. Lots of the farms we drove past had bee hives, and we fantasised about having a little piece of land with hives, and chickens, and vegetable patches. We drove through a couple of character-filled little villages, with old colonial houses and a timeless sense of stability.

It was an awesome roadtrip, full of exactly the sort of surprises that roadtrips tend to include. We shall have to go out on a different road next time.