Weather in New Zealand continues to be fabulous – mid 20s with refreshing sea breezes, bright days with cloud cover off in the distance, but sunny overhead.
We are ‘tramping’ (day hiking) the North island, making our way from Aukland to the ‘Northland’ (Paihia) followed by a return to Aukland and a swing around the Coromandel Peninsula and then into the central thermal area around Rotorua. Next we are off to the east coast at Napier, an art deco town, and the wine region of Martinborough before visiting the capital of Wellington and heading to the South Island for a trip down the west coast. Nothing eventful to report so far.
The people are friendly, but its like living in a time bubble – going back to the 50s. Most things are more expensive down here, with NZ wines being priced almost the same as at the LCBO. We found a rather larger wine store yesterday and did a bit of a tasting and stocked up.
Accommodation has varied a lot. The first 3 places were quite nice – well above average fully self-contained suites including a kitchen, one very high end, all with laundry facilities. Then we explored the other end of the spectrum with a motel that catered to bus loads of oriental tourists and facilities reminiscent of the Timmins Holiday Inn circa. 1950.
The past couple of days we have been travelling through the North Island’s “thermal area” at Rotorua and Taupo: geysers, bubbling, mud pool, brightly colored lakes with a gentle whiff of sulphur in the air (sometimes not so gentle).
The scenery is magnificent, especially the misty mountain ranges over the ocean (yes it really is Lord of the Rings country) and also the many varieties of trees and ferns. The giant kauri trees (picture with Chris standing in front of one) are a sight to behold and the kauri museum was fascinating: it included single, unknotted slabs of kauri wood 20’ wide and 50’ long – plus the chain saws and milling equipment needed to handle such wood. We are slowly learning the names of the native and introduced birdlife: pukakos, fantails, black swans etc. There are lots of cattle but, so far, surprisingly few sheep.
Internet is not hard to find, but its expensive, as is many things here and forget trying to keep something like an iPhone happy, download limits are very small. Quality of service is great but you do pay for it.
Will post again in a week or sooner.
Jeff and Chris