|Yesterday we had an adventure finding our Marina for the 1/2 day North End cruise. Made it with 1 minute to spare. The islands at the North End of the "North Island" are beautiful - both craggy and rolling hills which is what we are discovering is a bit of the norm here. We saw a 15-20 dolphin pod playing with the boats following them. Went through the "Hole in the Rock" (amazing captain) where it is good luck to be "dripped" on. Stopped for a hiked up a gorgeous grass covered hill - the view from which is posted in the picture with the two of us. Later we hiked 5 kilometers to the Haruku Falls (and back again). Along the way we walked the boardward through the Mangrove. When we first walked through it, it was mud with many, many tree roots sticking up. Also, there was a "gum popping" sound which - we learned - comes from the "snapping shrimp" who have made holes into the mud along with the mud crabs. But - on the way back - the tide had come in and the tree roots were now under 2 feet of water - and no popping. Also, along the route, we came across a group of 4-5 trees laden with large cormorand type birds - picture is attached. 20-30 birds per tree so there was a fair amount of warbling going on. When we returned to our B&B, our host, Peter, made an incredible three course dinner - then left us (along with Tom and Debbie from Vancouver) with an open wine cabinet. Goodness knows why. Today we took a drive up to one of the Kauri Forests. We are extremely impressed by the New Zealanders' desire to protect their forests, wildlife and heritage. One must brush and disinfect one's shoes/hiking boots before entering the forest. Same as yesterday, we heard a very interesting bird call - one made by the Tui. I tried to attach a video/audio of the Tui in the forest - but it didn't work. The Tui imitate other birds - so every time we've heard it - it's different and extremely distinct. Let me know if you'd like me to email you the video/audio - with any luck it will come through to you. At the moment, we're relaxing and catching up on current events. Tomorrow we will drive back to Auckland (pronounced similarly to Oakland) and the following day down to Roturora via the "Hot Sand Beaches" . Stay turned.