Major British influence in a small NZ town.
07.11.2009 - 07.11.2009 65 °F
Today is Saturday and in the quaint town of Thames it is time for the outdoor market on Pollen Street. People were selling everything from used books and knitted socks to honey and old tools. This part of town was built in the 1800s during the gold rush so it had the very homey feel of small town folks getting out for some excitement.
We walked past a lovely old wooden church called St. James Church and approached the entrance where two women were talking. Wondering if the church was in use I asked, “Is this an active parish?” One woman responded, “Oh yes, and we wish it was more active!” We all had a good chuckle after that.
St. James Church
We then climbed a hill to get a look over the town and the estuary named the “Firth of Thames”. We continued our walk down to the water line where there was a ring of mangrove trees along the banks. These trees are amazing in the way they withstand the pounding of the waves pulling at their roots. We came to a bird blind and enjoyed watching the birds interact as I took pictures of herons, oystercatchers, and godwits. I know I’ve seen programs about the migration of birds, but it’s still amazing to see birds that travel from as far away as Alaska to this island nation.
The Firth of Thames.
By the time we came back into town the streets were empty and found that we missed the hustle and bustle of the market. Many of the dramatic spots we’ve visited have been a bit lonely because it’s not quite tourist season. It’s nice to have people around now and then. We dropped into the Sola Café because it was supposed to have nice vegan food and we were totally impressed. Not only was it cozy but the moussaka and the herb fritter we had were delicious. Add to that their homemade soy chai and I was in gastronomical heaven.
Next we were off to do a little hiking in the Coromandel Forest. We were aiming for the Kauaeranga Valley where there was supposed to be a nice view of some falls and a swing bridge over a river; nothing too strenuous but enough to get an idea of the place. On the trail we saw a few Kauri trees that were almost entirely wiped out by logging from the 1870s to the 1930s. They’re trying to bring them back to the park with a conservation program. The swing bring was a one person bridge that was quite fun and much easier than the single rope bridges I’ve crossed over in my Army days.
Scenes from the hike.
As we drove back to Auckland to meet up with Jeannine’s college friend she spotted a cool looking sign that said “Abstract Gallery and Café”. We decided to have a look and I detoured to it. The gallery space was closed, but the café was very nicely designed and the menu interestingly enough for us to have a couple of entries and tea. The presentation of the food was quite lovely and I had to pull out the camera to share. I should add that the food at Sola Café was also photographic quality, but at that point we were too hungry to stop to think about a picture!