WHANGAREI, KAWAKAWA & OTHERS
We drove on Hwy 1 from Auckland to Paihia where we stayed for three days. We made a few side trips and stops along the way at Whangarei, Kawakawa, Kerikeri and Russell.
The town of Whangarei will always be special to Genelle & I because it's the home of "Natural Wood Creations", the factory store where we purchased a beautiful clock for our home. Our clock is a treasured keepsake because the Kauri wood that it's made from can only be found in New Zealand. In fact, Kauri trees are protected in New Zealand. "Natural Wood Creations" makes their goregeous clocks, tables and mirrors from "Swamp Kauri". Those are trees that were destroyed by a natural disaster and buried in a swamp. The company has to dig them up and haul them back to the factory.

In the first picture below, you can see some of the enormous kauri stumps lining the driveway to the factory. There is an entire field of stumps and logs waiting to be crafted into special gifts. Inside the factory store are literally thousands of beautiful items. In the third picture of the bottom row, look on the floor to the left where some freshly sawed slabs are stacked. The company cuts slabs from logs and stumps, then determines from the size and shape of each slab what it will become. The very last picture shows the clock we purchased hanging above the fireplace in our home. To get an idea of scale, the clock is 4-feet tall.
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A Note on Shipping: "Natural Wood Creations" and many other stores in New Zealand will ship your purchases out of the country. When they do, they are able to deduct the 12.5% GST (tax). That often offsets much of the shipping cost. It saves you having to find room to pack the gifts in your luggage.

Our next stop was in Kawakawa to use the public toilet, and take a few pictures of it. I don't make it a habit to take pictures in a loo, but this one is famous! It was designed by the late Frederick Hundertwasser. There are a lot more pictures and history of this toilet available on the internet, if you are so inclined to look for it.
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This picture may be boring, but you HAVE to buy cheese from the "Mahoe Cheese Factory" if you are ever in Kerikeri. I insist. It's a little hard to find, but it's so worth looking for. Every cheese they make is excellent, but their own extra creamy "Belrose" recipe is to-die-for! Buy some and take it with you for snacks while traveling around New Zealand. That's what we did.

Kerikeri is apparently most famous for the Stone Store. Completed in 1836, it's the oldest standing European stone building in New Zealand. A busy street runs very close to the store, although the traffic has to stop periodically in both directions because the old bridge next to the store is only one lane wide. The Kerikeri river flows under the bridge into the beautiul Stone Store Basis directly across the street from the store.

The downstairs level is still a working store selling authentic flavored "penny candy", Spode china, pottery, fabric and other gift items. Upstairs is a museum. The colonial rifles are in pristine condition.
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Final stop of the day, Russell. We took the Russell car ferry from Paihia. It's a beautiful small and historic town. I think that a lot of rich people must live there. Everywhere you look are water-view homes worth far more than the average Kiwi can afford. It reminds me of home (San Diego).

A funny note about Russell: In the early 1800's it became known as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific" because it was full of lawless scoundrels of every type. One writer of that era said that the town was "harbouring a greater number of rogues than any other spot of equal size in the universe."
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