The Last Waterfall, and a Black Sand Beach

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We headed out of the Goblin Forest and drove down the the nearby Dawson Falls. This was our last waterfall for this section of the trip. A nice up and down stair-hike leads to the falls and the pools beneath them. Notice the orange mud layer to the right of the falls? People have left tons of orange handprints around the area, and we joined in the fun.

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The pools are big enough to skip stones in, coincidentally one of my favorite travel-hobbies. Finding the right stone is an art unto itself, and in this otherwise beautiful picture, there I am hunting.

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The throw takes place.

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We wrapped up and went on our last great drive, north and east. On the way we stopped at a seemingly regular beach.

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Except that something was very strange about the sand.

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Here in Mokao the sand is a wonderful coal black. I did a quick search for black sand beaches in New Zealand and this one isn’t listed. This was my first black sand beach, and I was amazed. If you’ve never seen one in person it’s the strangest thing. Alongside the color, the texture of the sand was of fine, wet silt, making it behave like very thick pudding. A strange and wonderful combination.

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Great natural beauty and, unfortunately, pollution. It looks like trash from the nearby town washes down and out towards the ocean. Luckily it’s limited in its spread.

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Walking away from the beach entrance leads to cliffs with small caves in them.

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In a break in the cliffs is a river feeding the ocean and cutting a tar-black line in the sand.

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We collected shells and continued our occasional tradition of post-beach combing art.

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Next up : return to civilization.

Taumarunui: An adorable non-touristy NZ town

Sitting at the start of the Forgotten World HighwayTaumarunui is a drive-through town for most New Zealand roadtrippers. The main road is armed with a McDonald’s and a gas station, meaning most people stop there and never venture further. But in exploring the town for a few hours, we found that it has small-town NZ charm without the touristy kitsch, and we loved it. Here are some photos, a reminder of why it’s great to sometimes stop at places not on the tourist docket:

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NZ police officers stop by a stall selling clothes and plants during the weekly market.
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A stone memorial with a top hat is the chance to take cute pictures.
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Local meat pies! This one is the chicken and vegetable, a salty chicken stew encased in a crisp, crusty pocket.
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Taller than you: Stoytcho (193 cm) stares up at a giant moa sculpture sponsored by the Rotary Club and constructed of found wood pieces.
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A lighthearted PSA in the town’s park
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The park playground, which has PERFECT swings that fit children and children-at-heart (like us)