Restful Hokianga

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On our way south towards the next Kauri forest, we made a pitstop in Hokianga. We weren’t really sure what to expect of the place – I’d wanted to take a ferry nearby which proved too expensive with the car, so we grabbed lunch and strolled around the town.

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And what a lunch it was. Despite the huge “Fish & Chips” sign, I can’t resist lamb when it’s on the menu. This was a juicy lamb patty with a fantastic mint cream sauce that together made one of the best lamb burgers I’ve had the pleasure of trying.

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The town is almost all waterfront and very quiet. A few cars went by as we ate lunch, maybe a dozen people total. Besides the ferry landing, there are a handful of historical houses (entry fee required) and a mangrove forest walk. As it turns out, we were in town the same day a classic cars club was meeting.

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I don’t know much of the history of cars, but I do know these were well cared for vehicles.

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The cars were parked just along the shoreline, and across from them, on wood floating in the bay, sat birds.

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The bay was peaceful, the birds mostly so.

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Bright sun, sunscreen selling sun, shone down on the scene.

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Built and maintained by volunteers in the town and surrounds, the Mangrove Walkway is a 20 minute or so walk that takes you through the mangrove forest ecosystem, points out interesting facts and highlights damage done in the name of industry. It is also entirely free to visit.

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It’s all on elevated walkway, so even though the mangrove tree’s natural environment is mostly underwater, you can enjoy the sights without getting your socks wet.

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Mangroves are interesting plants. They thrive on the border between land and water, living with the tide. Half the day their roots are covered entirely by water and the other half they stick out above the mud. To deal with the saltwater they live in, they concentrate it out to their bark or leaves, forming a thin salty layer. Mangroves are luckily widespread around the shorelines of the world and can tolerate very harsh conditions.

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As with any other living thing that survives on the edge, the mangrove forest is fragile. Industrial dumping, damming, and clearcutting threatens mangroves around the world. Not only is this damaging for these wonderful trees, it destroys a vibrant and vital ecosystem. The mangrove forest at Hokinaga suffered greatly from industrial damage decades ago, and is fortunately on its way to recovery after the businesses closed. The walkway is both nature-walk and reminder that without care, these environments will suffer and dissappear.

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