Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Winter Solstice in Aotearoa

Today, June 21, is the winter solstice in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Isn't that amazing!  The temperature where we are today hit a high of about 66 or 67 degrees...because we're in the north of the north island of New Zealand.  The foliage here looks subtropical--there are cultivated palm trees, and a lot of the bushes are still in flower.  There are many Norfolk Island Pines, which are gorgeous.  But nonetheless it's the first day of winter and many Kiwis think we're crazy for coming here in the winter.  Oh well.  At least there are no other tourists competing for services.

Yesterday we were in Auckland, the largest city in the north.  Picture #1 shows the crater at the top of Mount Eden, outside the city. It's sacred ground to the Maoris.  I don't know exactly how they observe their connection to the Almighty here, but apparently it is sacred--the signs say that!  It's one more example of a people who find the heights of the earth to be a place to worship divinity.  We climbed to the top of Mount Eden, which is a collapsed volcanic cone, or crater, outside Auckland.  Then we walked into the city--maybe about 5 miles of walking yesterday.

Then we drove north to the area of the Bay of Islands--a summer magnet for tourists--and a winter place of quiet and beauty.  We are staying in a B&B in Kerikeri, just north of Wakawaka... This morning we drove to a very quiet beach and took a walk out on a headland for 4 or so miles.  Pictures are below.  It was glorious and gorgeous.  And quite a workout--lots of ups and downs on steps and slippery trails.  Thank heavens for hiking boots.  And yes on this first day of winter we sweated up a storm.

We had a great dinner in a restaurant called the Jerusalem Cafe here in Kerikeri.  How funny to be eating Israeli food in New Zealand.  But no worries....it was delicious and there was enough left over to have a quiet dinner here at the B&B tomorrow night.

So here are some pics.
1&2--the sacred crater Mount Eden for the Maories and the view of Auckland from its rim.
Others:  the views from our walk today.  It was gorgeous.  Thanks be to God for the ability to be here, resting and exercising.

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