Woke up to sunshine and pukekos this morning. So we packed up and headed back out the winding gravel road to the (sort of) nearby Goat Island Marine Reserve. There we took a Glass Bottom Boat trip around the island.
This seems to be a popular place for diving and snorkeling, though the water was not especially warm. There were quite a few people there, a few swimming, some snorkeling, many lying on the beach, some diving or getting ready to dive, or changing after a dive, some people picnicking, etc. As a Marine Reserve, no fishing is allowed, and no one is allowed to take or harm any animals or plants. On the boat trip we saw several snapper, and a few caves on the island. The water was still a little murky, just beginning to clear after Cyclone Luci 2 weeks ago.
(Interestingly, our guides knew that if they stopped the boat in a particular place some large red snappers would come up to check the boat out – and to be seen by the tourists. According to the guides, people used to feed the fish, either deliberately or inadvertently, and the fish learned to associate boats with food. Such feeding is not supposed to happen in a Marine Reserve, and authorities cracked down 3 or 4 years ago and did so effectively according to the guides. Yet snappers are long-lived fishes, living up to 80 years or so, and the learned behavior has persisted for several years without reinforcement! I don’t know what that says, but it seems to me to be saying something. L)
The Marine Reserve is associated with the University of Auckland, which has a Marine Science branch here. They also sponsor a Marine Discovery Center, so after our boat trip we walked up and looked through there. We talked to a young man on duty, Leo from Chile, who just got his Ph.D. there, working with sea cucumbers. It was pretty interesting. (Leo has a partner, from Chile, currently working on a doctoral degree in some branch of Marine Science. In a couple of years, when she finishes, they will be confronting a two-body problem. I guess some things are universal these days. L)
There were shags (cormorants) nesting in the trees, and bringing food to their young. The parking lot was close to the level of the nests, so we watched them for a while.
Back at the van, we had cheese, crackers, and grapes with juice for lunch, then set the GPS for Aroha Island, our campground for tonight. Our 3 hour drive was mostly uneventful, and we arrived here at 6:30 pm. (The eventful part of the mostly uneventful drive was the last 200 meters or so. The “drive” to the campground was 2-way, 1-lane with heavy bushes for shoulders. Seriously. I wasn’t certain the van would fit in a few parts. We did meet one small car going the opposite direction, and I’m not certain how we got past each other – my eyes were closed. L) The office had closed at 5:30 pm, so I guess we will pay in the am before leaving.
The campground is not very full, so we are well-spaced. (Shirley is a metric space, but I’m barely Hausdorf. ☺ L) We have power, but no internet.
We had sandwiches for supper, and are preparing to go on a Kiwi walk to try to see kiwi starting at 9 pm. Except the mosquitoes and the lack of solid information about the walk may discourage us.