I'm happy to report that there are abundant exercise options in New Zealand. We're docked across the street from the Whangarei Acquatic Center, a private (but inexpensive) lap pool, full gym, and indoor water park where one can reward any amount of physical exertion with a trip down the water slide. There is a paved walking path that circles the town basin, where we are, a sequence of historical billboards and outdoor exercise equipment, and around the fish hook bridge two and a half kilometers away.
There are yoga classes all around town, and cars of ladies that shuttle to and from boat and mat. The instructors range from twenty-something yoga/nutritionist hybrids to older women who are sticklers for Iyengar form and speak most commonly in gardening metaphors.(Other Kiwi yoga quirks: there are few male students and seemingly no male instructors; multi-height yoga straps on the wall are all the rage; there is a whole new warrior pose—but sadly, it is 'dying warrior').
Then there are those times when the sun shines, and neither of us can handle another minute of boat projects, so we lace up our hiking shoes and hit the trails that start at the aquatic center and blossom into the hills north of the marina.
We've done the basics loop a few times, a flat path, lined with 30 foot fern trees and 100 foot kauri trees, from the boat to a foot bridge two kilometers up river. We've seen newly weds taking bridal photos, small family reunions, and a few hundred ducks who flock towards any human nearby looking for handouts. There a large, white and tawny geese, and a handful of suspiciously large ducks that I hypothesize are duck-geese cross-breeds worthy some scientific inquiry.
Tuesday, we made a vertical turn and hiked to the lookout point. After 40 minutes we reached the summit and found a monument that generally suggested we remember anyone we know who has died. The viewing platform was closed, but the thickly accented Englishman standing guard allowed is to hike out just below it.
Still, the descending hike superseded the view. There was a long set of stairs running parallel to a gentle waterfall that pooled at various points on the way down. The rocks were red with either algae or their constituent minerals and gave the ponds a burgundy hue.
New Zealand...so fricken pretty, and so are our Valentine's plans: a sunny day picnic hike to Whangarei Falls. Who could say no to such a date request from this guy?