Well, now that we're over all that testing unpleasantness, I can get on with an enjoyable vacation!
Good strides made on that front yesterday, when the Rainey family and I went out for a day hike up and around Rangitoto. This whipper-snapper of an island appeared suddenly about 600 years ago in a fit of fiery, explosive eruptions. This was all witnessed from the neighboring island of Motutapu, a much older cindercone that was home to a group of recently-immigrated Maori.
Can you imagine? "Oh, man, am I glad to be done with that canoe trip over hundreds of miles of treacherous ocean and back on the solid, unchanging land. Wait, what's that sound?"
Once things quieted down, there was a 6km island of black basaltic rock where before there was only water. It must have been quite a contrast to the fertile green Motutapu! Probably not much to recommend it for a weekend hike back then. But before long lichen began breaking down the rock, and soon after came the indomitable pohutukawa trees. It took a while -- drawings of the crater from the mid 1860s show it barren but for a couple scraggly trees -- but now virtually the whole island is covered in vegetation.
Looking out from Rangitoto, you can see many of the 50 or so other volcanic islands and peninsulas that mottle the gulf. This would be an incredible place to have a kayak. Imagine putting out a few blocks from home and having a good day's paddle out to an island camping spot! *major selling point* What a bummer that PhD's here only take three years...
One more day then until Meg makes it out here and we go off for some real adventuring. I can't wait!