A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand March 5 2013

Day 13 Wellington

semi-overcast 19 °C

The Wild Wet Wind of Wellington

Actually was a "bet chelley" this morning with a light southerly blowing up from the Antartic but still no rain. Did get to around 20 degrees so still quite a bit of bite in the sun when out of the breeze. They do celebrate the wind here with sculptures along the main drag which react to the velocity of the wind.

Very leisurely day with a guided tour of the city the only organised activity. Climbed our way up and then further up and again up until we reached the look out on Mt Victoria with 360 views of this hilly city. Can't believe the slopes they build on. Around our way there are many with a funicular tramway to get them up to their homes. No roadside parking. And that is just the rich people who pay to have helicopters drop in their big items. Now know why the All Black have such powerful legs.
Next stop was the Weta Cave. This is the factory complex responsible for all the props and prosthetics used in the Peter Jackson movies and others.
Then across town and up again to the botanical gardens and views from the other side of the harbour. Caught the tramway down the hill to the middle of the shopping complex - Lambton Quay which is now about 250 metres from the waterfront but was the waterfront before the earthquake of 1840. Markers along the street show the old shoreline. Hard to grasp these cataclysmic changes occurring so recently. Can't imagine what Christchurch will look like. Along this fault line mountains appear and land comes and goes. And still they build on the sides of the hills. Coming into the harbour feels a bit like Santorini with all these flash white homes perched on the hills but there are still trees here. Also a bit like San Francisco.

Nice lunch and then a leisurely walk back to our hotel.

Dinner on the waterfront at the Mac Brewery Hotel.

Posted by suengarry 11:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged wellington Comments (0)

New Zealand March 4 2013

Day 12 - Napier to Wellington

Pretty big day today with the run from Napier to Wellington. From Napier we moved through the fertile fruit and vegetable growing areas around Hastings. No wonder the Kiwis are keen to export their apples to Australia. It is just so tidy looking and the trees and vines are so full of fruit even in these drought conditions. Brief stopover at Dannevirke (where the Danes settled) then on through the Masterton area which obviously did very well during the wool years and is still doing quite well now having moved into lambs and other agriculture. Stopover in the village of Carterton for lunch and a stroll before heading off again through the trendy village of Greyton. It is the spot where Wellingtonites either go for their weekend cafe fix or live and commute into the city for work.
We then crossed the Tararua Range on the most scenic road. It would be an Unbelievable bike run. Like going to Walcha but higher and bendier and with great road surface all the way. Very few straight sections to recover - full on all the way both up and down. And so on through the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt into Wellington. A quick tour around the city to set us up for our wanderings before a visit to the modern Te Para (Our Place) national museum for a guided tour. Fantastic place but we did not do it justice due to the short tour time and the fact that everyone in our group appeared to be hanging out for a nanny nap after a long day on the coach. Plenty of time for a revisit should we choose. Three course dinner in house with a nice bottle of Church Cab Sav Merlot which managed to sit somewhere between the lamb and fish.

Posted by suengarry 11:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged lower hutt Comments (0)

New Zealand March 3 2013

Day 11 Sunday

overcast 22 °C

We did something unusual today. Decided to choose the visit to the gannet colony at Kidnappers Cape on the southern end of the Hawke Bay. The cape, so named by Capt Cook in 1769 because local Maori tribe tried to kidnap/rescue Tiata, the Tahitian companion of his navigator Tupaia here, is the location of the most accessible gannet rookery in Australasia. Decided to go, not because of the birds but because of the look of the topography and we were not disappointed. The cape is located on a private farm owned by an eighty plus year old American tycoon, Julian Robertson. He has done a Kerry Packer - with an Tom Doak designed international standard 71 par golf course in the most inaccessible terrain imaginable. The roadway in was originally along a river bed but is now sealed as far as the front of the golf club/resort. God knows how many millions that cost. The golf course is built on the ridges. If you are not on the fairway you can see the ball but you can't get it from the bottom of the hill unless you have mountain goat capabilities. Accommodation starts at $897:00 per person per night minimum two nights. This entitles you to a 10% discount on your $350.00 green fees. We continued on along a dusty goat track to the cape. The birds.....Well; they were OK!
Spent the afternoon walking the streets of Napier to check out the Art Deco building fronts and then to our room for a nanny and poppy nap.
The concentration of Art Deco buildings in Napier is the result of the total destruction caused by a large earthquake in 1931 and the consequent rebuilding on the upraised land that occurred. Drinks and dinner at an Irish Pub.

Posted by suengarry 00:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged golf napier cape kidnappers Comments (2)

New Zealand March 2 2013

Rotorua to Napier

sunny 25 °C

Day 10 Saturday

Another 9:00 start and we were off down highway 5 for a short run to the geothermal fields outside Rotorua to visit the Wai O Tapu (Taboo Waters) Thermal Wonderland. Our Maori guide reminded us of Brett Adams. No active geyser in the area that we visited but lots of fumeroles belching out gases and colourful waters. Drought has affected the depth of some pools and waterfalls but still an awe inspiring place to visit. One of those places you could come back to many times and see something different.

Next was Huka Falls where the beautifully clean fresh waters of Lake Taupo (largest fresh water lake in Australasia) spills out through a narrow gorge into the Waikato River. Spectacular - the flow is controlled by lock gates at Taupo.

The Wairakei Steam Valley was next. Some sixty plus bores provide dry steam under pressure to drive electricity turbines. Taupomoana (Lake Taupo) itself was next with a brief stop for lunch. The town and lake front was basically shut down for running the annual international iron man race. Some competitors appeared to be struggling in the 25 degree temperatures. Another place that could be worth a longer visit. The lake is so big!!

On to Napier over the Ahimaniwa Ranges (where it does snow in winter) and down into the vineyards for our overnight stay on Hawkes Bay at Napier (famous for having many buildings in the main shopping area rebuilt in Art Deco style after the 1931 quake. Amazing to drive in over the coastal pain that rose up out of the ocean at that time.

Dinner at the historic Mission Estate Vineyard. Originally established by the Marist order in 1851 it still operates as a money raising charity for the Catholic Church but is no longer operated by the Marists. Wine tasting (Pinot Gris, Merlot, Syrah and
Semmilon) before a nice set menu dinner. Unimpressed with the wines with only the Syrah passing the grade as a quaffer. They accept that they are producing a series of price point wines that meet their market but claim to have the occasional special vintage. Beautifully restored seminary building is popular or weddings etc. Dinner was very nice and there were a couple of spare wines to get from the non drinkers. Pity we couldn't get a really fine wine to go with the beautifully cooked scotch fillet and/or fish.

Discover that our coach driver Rod is also a BMW rider (1150) and we had a good chat about touring in NZ. Have been very impressed with the road surfaces everywhere we have been and surprised that we have not seen that many bikes. Some great sections through the nonstop ranges but I think I would be exhausted at the end of each day and not have seen much scenery because of the concentration required. Rod indicated that NZ motorists are as bad as Aussies when it comes to "seeing" motorbikes. He also suggested I would be even more impressed with the potential rides through the South Island.

Posted by suengarry 00:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rotorua river falls geothermal huka tapou waikato Comments (0)

New Zealand March 1 2013

Day 9 Rotorua

sunny 25 °C

Very civilised start to the day again with another typical five star breakfast spread overlooking the lake. Shared our time with a group of American cyclists. At breakfast in full Lycra and clip on shoes; some even had their helmets on with those dicky little rear view mirrors attached; and of course everyone was getting their trip downloaded onto their GPS units from the guy with the lap top in the middle of the main aisle..... Wa..k..s! Sadly I think they were probably all baby boomers.

Group pursued different activities today. Michael, Colleen and Garry went 4 wheel driving up in the hills; Sue went to Te Puia for the gurgling mud and the mighty Pohutu Geyser which shoots water 30 metres into the air once or twice every hour. This is also Te Whakarewarewatanga o te ope taua a Wahiao "The gathering place of the war parties of Wahiao". Margy and Bronwyn had the morning off before going on a town and lake tour on The Duck.
We walked down to a little Maori Christian church on the lake front. Steam and water bubbling up through the roadway and footpath.

Dinner (hangi) and cultural experience tonight. Very entertaining including comedic singalong on the bus ride home. Michael was our designated chief for the night and performed very well. Garry stayed up long enough to see the Waratahs have a win. Pity it was only against the Rebels and we can't rub it into our Kiwi bus driver.

Posted by suengarry 10:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rotorua Comments (1)

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