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  Wanderlust Home and Pet Care

New Zealand Drive

June 1:  Awful night’s sleep and terrible breakfast at the Downtown Backpackers hotel. I’m sure I will laugh about this a year from now. I have never seen a grocery store (good sized too) in a train station. What will they think of next. The #20 bus takes us to Mount Victoria for a wonderful view of Wellington and the harbor. Then it’s the Te Papa museum which was well done. The ride back with Duncan and Jan goes quickly as we are getting to know each other. Jan cooks some farm raised venison which was delicious.

May 31:  No more car however we have the bus as we are now in Wellington.  The city is smaller than I expected, - very walkable.  The cable car was enjoyable with the botanic gardens at the top.  We didn’t attend the observatory show as they had school children in attendance. Cuba street is a hoppin pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Lunch was Indian and it was fun to watch them make Naan and Roti. The water front is very pedestrian friendly and workers were out on their lunch breaks.

May 30: We stopped by our soon to be home for the next 6 weeks to drop off luggage and the wine we purchased at the Hawk’s Bay Wineries. Duncan and Jan are delightful people. We then made our way over the sunny end of the north island to Paraparaumu. Along the way we had a nice lunch in Featherston which is where we will catch the train when we want to get to Wellington.

We had to make a pee stop and turned into the Kaitoke Regional Park.  I notice that one of the trails is marked Rivendell. The Park was a filming location for Lord of the Rings - what a coincidence.

We hunt down the i-site (visitor’s information) and they hook us up with a motel for the night. Then we head to the beach for a long afternoon stroll. We watched the sun go down behind the Kapiti Island in the Tasman Sea.

May 29:  We travel south to Martinborough. Along the way we stop at Tui Brewery for a tour, beer and lunch. Gary ordered abalone fritters but they were so rubbery he didn’t finish them. Then on top of that he tried chicken potato chips which he will never have again. The scenery today was beautiful.

May 28:  It is a partly sunny day so I decide to head to the Te Mata Peak Lookout. There at the lookout there were two geocache's.  At the bottom of the lookout in a reserve we discovered another geocache. We then drove to Elephant Hill Winery for lunch which was lovely. I was surprised how much Gary enjoyed the Chardonnay. The day ends with a picture of Cape Kidnappers.

May 27:  We drive to Hastings for their Sunday Farmer’s Market. We buy our brunch and a bottle of wine and eat on the “boot” of the car. We then start Geocaching as we visit different wineries.  Simon at Salvare is very helpful and has some good wine as well as some interesting food items. We buy the hot and spicy Dukka for dipping.

May 26:  This morning we had a guided of Te Puia - I highly recommend this. We first learned about the Maori. The most plausible explanation is that they originate from Taiwan. We saw a Maori “welcome to the meeting house” dance using moves they would have used to pull in a canoe onto the shore. They are teaching the old woodcarving and weaving skills to selected young people and you can see the process. We then walk to the mud pools and geysers. Back on the road, we drive by Lake Taupo which lies in a caldera created by a super volcanic eruption 26,500 year ago. Our destination is Napier located on the east coast - wine country.

May 25:  We drive through the countryside to get to our next destination of Rotorua. The farms are lush and the eating is good for the cattle, milking cows and sheep. The New Zealand Cheddar cheese is very good.  Our meals have been just so/so for a high price. The meat tastes like liver because they don’t age it (same as Australia). Can’t beat the fresh seafood. Because minimum wages are high, restaurant costs are high therefore expensive to eat out. Rotorua is known for their mud pools and geysers. We visit a tourist village buried by a trio of volcanoes in 1886. Excavations done in the 1930’s and 1950’s have discovered many of the remains. Our hotel for the evening has a Jacuzzi tub so we both get in and remember the hot tub at 641 Singletree.

May 24:  We are out of the hotel by 8:45 to drive to Matamata for the Hobbiton Movie Set from Lord of the Rings. I went by myself myself and enjoyed all 44 hobbit homes. I thought it was worth the price of NZ$66 for an 1 1/2 tour. I learned all kinds of crazy facts which I will post on the pictures, example: To audition for a Hobbit you couldn’t be any taller than 5’4”.  We then head to Waitomo Caves. We take the 2 hour cave tour with a close up of the glowworms inside the cave. Don’t miss this.  It was amazing to see hundreds of little blue lights (which come from their rear end) to attract insects that have traveled in with the river. The insects think it is a way out of the cave. The insects get caught in strands of a saliva web - dinner for the glowworm.

May 23:  We pick up the car and it is easy to get on our way to the Coromandel Peninsula.  The west side is very curvy and next to the water but we cut across to the east side where it is just as curvy and up on the hill tops away from the water. Did I mention the road was very curvy. I don’t think I would recommend this as a drive.