Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Locations: Mount Maunganui and Kaikoura
Mount Maunganui is a town located on a peninsula in the Bay of Plenty, a popular coastal resort area. The town is overlooked by an extinct volcano of the same name (officially known by its Maori name, Mauao, and colloquially referred to as 'The Mount'). The town itself is situated on top of a sand bar that connects the volcano to the mainland (this structure type is known as a tombolo.)
According to Maori legend, Mauao was a once a nameless slave of a mountain called Otanewainuku. Mauao was in love with another hill, but was despaired to learn she had fallen for her captor. Deeply saddened, Mauao called upon the fairy people (Patupaiarehe) to help him drown into the sea. In the process, however, the fairy people were caught by the rising sun and forced to disappear. Therefore, the Maori name Mauao means 'caught by the dawn'.
Today, Mauao, 232 m high, attracts many to complete a thirty-minute hike to the summit. The 360 degree view on top is accompanied by possible sightings of several species of whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Surfing, volleyball, and diving are important recreations in this region. Mount Maunganui was once the site of a Maoria settlement (a pa) and its remains can still be seen. Mount Maunganui is also home to New Zealand's first artificial reef.
Kaikoura is a town on the Kaikoura Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand's southern island. The Kaikoura region is known for its unique combination of majestic, snowy mountain range (part of the Southern Alps) and its coast rich in marine life. The town itself is situated on a flat coastal plain that lies in between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains.
In Maori legend, Kaikoura is where Maui placed his foot when pulling up New Zealand's northern island from the sea. The name 'Kaikoura,' meaning meal of crayfish, comes from Tamaki-te-rangi, when he named it that after stopping there to eat when chasing his runaway wives. Crayfish remains an important part of the region's industry.
At several points along the coast, the mountain ranges drop right into the sea, a feature that has several implications for the aquatic environment found there. Because the Kaikoura Peninsula is an area of coastal upwelling, it boasts a great diversity of aquatic life. Of particular interest are several species that are brought up from the deep Hikurangi Trench as well as marine mammals such as Sperm Whales, Dusky Dolphins, and Southern Fur Seals. In addition, Kaikoura is one of the best places to observe sea birds such as albatrosses. Because of this, early European settlers used Kaikoura as a whaling station. Today, ecotourism is a major part of the region's economy.