Days on the
|A thermal pool in Rotorua.
January 5, 2007
Watch out New Zealand…here we come!
The first thing we did this morning was pick up our new little baby this morning – a silver Nissan Pulsar. All four cylinders of it.
Ahhhh, yeah! It was soon time for me and Jim to take to the open roads.
Before I continue, I have to say what a truly pleasurable experience renting this car was. The guy at Drive NZ rental cars could
not have been nicer. He mapped out the routes that he recommended would be the most scenic and also the things that he
thought we should do with our time. There was no pressure to buy insurance as he told us the car was fully insured. The most
we would be responsible for was the $1000 NZ deductible if we were at fault for something. Not bad at all!
And then we were on our way…
First stop: The Zorb.
I was the only one who partook in this. Jim did it last time and highly encouraged it. I went for it. After all, how often can a
person roll down a zig-zagging hill in a huge plastic ball filled with cold water? And it is so deceiving to watch people doing it as
it looks nothing at all like how it feels. All I could do was laugh – even as it felt like I was going to roll off of the edges of the
course. Definitely a great experience!
Within minutes we were in Rotorua. This is a city known for its thermal areas. We went to one called Waiotapu. We thought we
were going to be able to plunge into the pools. But we were wrong. There were a few walking trails where you saw a range of
different colors created by the natural phenomena of the thermal waters. There was a ‘demon’s pool’ was a bright neon green
color. It looked like the gunk that they used to slime people with in Double Dare. At least that was what I thought. Kat’s
description was that it looked like the slime from Ghostbusters. There were sulphur pools galore that provided us with an odor
that was equivalent to a vat of thousands of boiled eggs. Mmmm, what a smell! The pool that provided the greatest whiff was
the Champagne Pool which was somewhat of a smelly egg steam bath. This pool has water that is well beyond boiling hundreds
of meters into the ground. I’m not sure of the science behind it all but the colors of the creation range from a deep blue/green
to a bright orangy-red to a pale cream/eggshell color. Quite cool.
Once we headed out on the road towards Taupo it was my turn to get behind the wheel. I had the utmost confidence in my
skills…even if the other two passengers in the car looked to be a bit concerned. Kat’s other concern was the fact that I hadn’t
even been behind a wheel of any car for over eight months. Valid concern. But I proved myself and my left-side-of-the-road-
driving skills (even if there are many trees that are missing a few leaves now – how was I supposed to know I was so close to
the side of the road on the left-hand side of the car???).
Oh yeah. I also have a bit of sad news to report. There is now one less bird in the world thanks to my driving. Really, it had
more to do with the bird’s stupidity as he flew right into the front bumper area of the car. I now see where the term ‘bird
brain’ comes from…
We learned that finding a room for three people in Taupo is not the easiest task. We went from place to place only to find that
two motels had rooms left. One was $350 for the night – so that was automatically out. The other was $160. That was far
beyond my budget so I was going to find a bed in a dorm at a hostel but Jim told me he would subsidize a portion of my cost for
the motel room. I felt guilty about this as I had no problem at all crashing in a dorm…but he and Kat thought it would be easier
for all of us to stay together. So now I owe Jim. I don’t know what. But I owe him.
January 6, 2007
Before we headed out of town, we stopped at Huka Falls. The river was gushing but when we saw the actual falls they were
much smaller than we were expecting. That being said, the water was a beautiful color (imagine that the inside of the
Matterhorn at Disneyland melted – that was the color).
Now it was time for our road trip to Wellington. We were going to break this trip up in Napier. We were down to a half-tank of
gas. We thought of getting gas before we left but, in the words of Jim DeFalco, “there are gas stations all along the way”. Napier
was about 160 kilometers from Taupo and we hadn’t seen anything that even resembled a gas station for about 150
kilometers. And the light on the gas gauge was on. We learned a lesson to never listen to Jim again. Even Jim agreed with this.
We finally found a gas station when we stumbled into the wine region of Hawke’s Bay. For the first time in a long time,
something was going to trump our drinking wine - and that was our little Nissan guzzling some gasoline.
We headed up a hill into Esk Winery. Finally, free tastings – how it should be (unlike on Waiheke Island). The girl who poured
for us was great and we tasted some really good wines.
Then we stumbled across the Crab Farm Winery. This was a smaller winery with a lot of charm to it. We tasted some other
great wines here and I ended up buying a Sauvignon Blanc and Kat bought a red blend (after all, she grew quite attached to the
shiny red crab on the label).
We lunched in Napier and had a brief walk on the coast before heading onto Wellington. We passed through many small towns
– all of which were completely shut down from the time of 5:00pm on a Saturday. Seriously. Everything we saw was closed in
every town with the exception of the one corner store that each town boasted. We all agreed that we could not live in these
towns as we might decide to put ourselves out of our misery while having a bout of boredom.
We did see lots of sheep. I am excited to see some close-up in the coming weeks. I also saw a kiwi sign (the type that shows a
picture of an animal that alerts drivers to be cautious as they might come across one while driving). I wanted to take a picture
of it. I got shot down. Kat and Jim couldn’t understand why I would want a picture of a sign. I couldn’t understand why they
wouldn’t. In the end, I know I will have ten days at the end of my time here on my own and I will be free to take pictures of
anything I want. Including kiwi signs.
We arrived into Wellington at around 9:00pm and found that there wasn’t a whole lot to do. We found a cool restaurant to
have a late dinner at and then called it a night. I’m sure there has got to be an area that is fun to go out around here…but we
weren’t finding it. Kind of a bummer because I know how much a friend of mine from home loves this city. I will be back here
towards the end of my time here when I head back up to the North Island. Maybe then I can find something a bit more to say
about this city. After all, it is the capital of New Zealand. I am sure we were definitely missing something.
January 7, 2007
We are now on the ferry on our way to Picton in the South Island. We spent the morning getting brunch in Wellington. Since it’
s a Sunday, there really weren’t any shops that were open. I guess that was okay since we had to head to the ferry around
I am really looking forward to seeing the South Island. The North Island didn’t really ‘wow’ me the way that it seems to ‘wow’
others. Maybe the ‘wow factor’ lies more in the South. We’re about to find out…
View from Esk Winery in Hawke's Bay.
Kat and I with our Crab Farm Winery purchases.