After leaving the “forest” and the big trees of the west coast, we drove back over to the east coast, a little further south through many incredibly tough, hairpin turny roads to our next destination “Hahei”. The B&B here was overlooking a beautiful beach with many little islands jutting out of the protected harbor that led out to the ocean. The nearest land to the east of this place was basically South America, so this was considered the “real east coast” of the north Island. Each of the Bed and Breakfasts has had a different flavor to them. This home was a million dollar home with amazing views. The hosts were very nice although a little more rigid than we have had in the past, breakfast times had to be arranged the night before and “happy hour” kind of an expectation. It’s all good,..We had our little glasses of juice at happy hour and enjoyed meeting another very nice German couple who we ran into again in another town the next night. Two nights here and we packed it full of boat rides around the fantastic coast, a hike up to “Cathedral Cove”- a moderately difficult hike up, along with about a thousand other tourists-not our favorite part but was good exercise and killer views at the top. I was dragging that day, had not slept well in a couple of nights and after the harrowing drive and yes I was a grump! We did have 2 VERY good dinners in this town. Lots of lamb offered and beef but I did manage to sneak in a good chicken dish here. The breakfasts in the B&Bs are pretty standard-Muesli, juice, toast, yogurt and eggs cooked in some way. Usually bacon is involved but we have managed to escape the bacon route in most places. This town “Hahei” was filled to the brim with tourists and I was a bit happy to be leaving there.
Onward to a completely different terrain and accommodations. We were near a lake in “Rototura” which again is somewhat of a tourist town and it is high season here. The draw in this place is all the geothermal lakes and sulphur springs. Our B&B here was away from the town however in a quaint Victorian home away from the hubbub, and had spectacular views of mountains in their back yard. I have pics on FB. The hosts here were delightful. They were the friendliest and nicest folks we have encountered so far. We felt sad to leave! Onward to another hike down to a lake, where on the way we encountered some amazing geothermal steam spewing from a previously erupted volcano (100 years ago). A boat ride around the lake and more fantastic natural phenomena and we were thermaled out! We also had a dinner cooked by the “Maori” people along with an authentic dance and singing-followed by a “forest walk” where we managed to finally see 2 of the endangered Kiwis we have heard so much about. It was kind of a touristy event but I enjoyed it just the same..
While there, we found a little secret restaurant overlooking Rotorua and the lake, where Reindeer were roaming in the yard and 180 degree views of the lake and mountains. Very romantic and fantastic food! OK, so now we have “run”/hiked 3 times this week. My clothes should start fitting better right? I am truly going to have sugar withdrawal when I get back home after all the chocolate desserts I have consumed in the last 6 weeks!
We passed through Lake Taupo (Taupoo they say here) for lunch the next day. It is a HUGE lake where Ironman New Zealand is held in March. The town itself is adorable and we shopped there where I bought more warm clothing in case the South Island is colder and the trek has snow or some oddity like that. We could have spent a few days in Lake Taupo-I sighed when we passed a spectacular looking HILTON there. Oh well, off we went to our next digs, which were not too shabby. Another ridiculously fantastic home, where our room is so high up, I was almost afraid of the heights looking down at the ocean. Glass windows surround our bedroom and again the views are different everywhere we have gone-here is no exception. The hosts again seemed very nice. It is customary for most of these folks to kind of give you the “low down” of the area, good places to go and eat and see. I think here we may hang out in the room a bit and rest-it is quite an experience in itself. The town “Napier” again on the eastern coast has an interesting history in that it was flattened in 1930 by an earthquake (OK this makes me a bit nervous but the host says they only get “4 or 5” small ones a year now”)..The town was rebuilt in art deco architecture so I got some good photos of the town and its unusual buildings.
Next drive was a bit less harried-I think we may be past the really tight turns and tiny lanes to drive in on the left side of the road. H & I are finally not turning on our windshield wipers every time we want to turn and so far have survived the stress of driving. I will say this part of the trip is a bit of a surprise for me (stress of driving) but other parts have been good surprises, such as the excellent food we have had most everywhere and the views-well what can I say? All that I expected and more. And we have not even gotten to the South Island yet…
We landed here in Wellington yesterday. We are in a restored 1920s style home right in the heart of the city. The host served us “tea’ when we arrived in the pouring rain yesterday afternoon. Another fantastic Kiwi, who drove us around town to give us a tour then up on “Victoria Hill” where we could see a 360 degree view of the city, the bay and straight to the South Pole almost out over the ocean. Unreal! After canapés and “drinks” served by our hosts here last night we had dinner at a buzzing restaurant in Wellington, which is about the size of ABQ. It seems folks eat pretty late here. After a really good dinner, the place was still abuzz with people as we walked back to the B&B.
I got a bit homesick the other day briefly. I miss my family-thank goodness for our new found Skype, where we can see the grandbabies! I also miss my routine mostly and having more clothing to choose from and the feeling of being “trapped” if there is not a store close by, etc..But for absolutely the most part, I am still having the time of my life on this “adventure” which seems to have gone very smoothly so far, no disappointments so far. The only bad thing is at each place there is WAY more to do than we have time for! I will be definitely giving most of the clothes away I have been wearing now for 7 weeks straight. They are getting a bit worn!
Tomorrow we turn in our present car, aboard the ferry and travel across to the South Island, about a 3 hour ride. Then we pick up a new car in Picton on the South Island and start our drive to the next B&B. The adventure continues!