5 November 2004


I realize it was just the other day that I wrote everyone from Paeroa, but it seems like weeks from then.  I am now in Whakatane having gone through Mt. Maunganui and then Rotorua.  I had a great time in both places.  On the way out of Maunganui I met up with four people from the Twin Cities area and have been biking with them since.  Two of them went with me to Rotorua and I stayed in a hostel with them.  In Rotorua we went to a traditional hangi (Maori for feast) which was awesome.  It was very good food and the dance that was performed from ancient ritual was amazing. 

We also spent time at Kiwi Encounter a conservatory action in place to help re-populate the kiwi bird, as if left to fend for themselves they will be extinct in my lifetime.  The introduced predators in New Zealand are the issue at hand as the young are not protected by their parents when they hatch.  Cats, dogs, ferrets and possum all eat the eggs or the young.  In this experience I was able to see chicks that were only days old and several (3) adult kiwi that will not be released back into the wild for misc. reasons. 

Leaving Rotorua I had a run in w/ a hauling truck.  Going around a bend after a round-about the second trailer left me no room and I had no where to move as there was a curb.  He hit me and I fell down behind the trailer -- thank God.  No serious injury, my Achilles Tendon is a little swollen, I think from being twisted. I also have road rash on my leg, arm and butt -- my butt is bruised also.  All said and done it turned out OK considering what could have been.

Last night and tonight I have had the opportunity to sleep in beds as a couple that the group from the cities knows has opened their homes to us -- even though they have never met any of us.  They are amazingly polite and interesting people.  I have enjoyed talking with them and experiencing the culture.  They turned us on to going to visit a live volcano today which was amazing.  No flowing lava, but the evidence of activity was definitely there.  White Island (the volcano) was several hours by boat off the mainland and was a great trip.  On the trip home we were able to see two whales swimming.  That was amazing - I look forward to the sea kayaking in the south where whales, seals and dolphins are more prevalent.

Ryan wanted to know more about the culture and stuff...  Food is pretty much the same as in the states - a mix of different cultures.  Whatever you want is available, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Chinese...  The dress is very similiar too.  The major differences are the accent and the laid back atmosphere. 

From here I have changed my plans and will be heading up the East Cape to visit what is said to be some of the best biking in all of the world.  I'll let you know.  So from Whakatane I'll go up to Hicks Bay and then down to Gisborne.  Still looking to be in the South Island end of this week or early next.

Sorry there are no pictures this time, this cafe doesn't let me hook up my camera.  Thanks for all the letters, thoughts and prayers.  Miss you all.






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