This is a private spreadsheet showing our planned itinerary.
This is a private spreadsheet showing our planned itinerary.
Films in March were slightly different from those in February. I remember watching:
On the 10th of March we departed New Zealand , heading for Sydney and Susan’s daughter Rachel and her boyfriend Mike.
On the plane I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, but before we left Christchurch we visited the museum, walking once again through the botanic gardens; this time in the drizzle.
An earlier hotel departure than usual for us as we needed to check in for the Interislander Ferry from Wellington ( North Island ) to Picton ( South Island ) from 7:30 am. It’s interesting to note that the MV Kaitaki was once the Pride of Cherbourg. So it’s quite possible that we’d sailed on her before, from Portsmouth to France.
The crossing was calm the whole way. In Wellington harbour we were briefly escorted by dolphins. We didn’t spot any in the Cook Strait or Queen Charlotte Sound.
When we arrived at Picton, Susan went straight to the Car Rental Desk while I waited at the luggage carousel. Soon we were back on the open road, in a white Toyota Corolla that didn’t know about white or yellow lane lines.
We were heading for Nelson, but stopped at Havelock for a comfort break. We didn’t have anything booked for Nelson, so when we spotted the Havelock Garden Motel we thought we’d just ask if they had an vacancies. The garden was full of black kittens, nearly a dozen of them. They were extremely timid. They had a vacancy, at a very good price, and soon we were settled in. We borrowed a DVD from their collection to watch later: Lion.
Then we headed out to find out about the mail boat cruises.
That evening we dined at The Mussel Pot, then watched the DVD.
The next day our drive to Wellington took us through a town calls Bulls, which was featuring in Burger King’s adverts for vegan burgers – the Rebel Whopper.
We also saw signs for Feilding which looked like typos. Coffee break ( pee stop ) was at Kiss and Bake Up, Otaki.
On arrival in Wellington we checked out the Interislander Ferry Terminal, to see where to drop off the car and how to get there the next morning, then checked into the Wellesley Boutique Hotel.
After refuelling we dropped off the car at then accidentally hitched a ride back to the station in an Interislander company car; Susan thought it was the taxi that the ticket lady had ordered for us.
At the station I finally got a photo of the flowers we’d been seeing everywhere. We were told in Taupo that they were called “eggy panthers”. It wasn’t until we got to Christchurch that I discovered the true spelling.
Since the Wellesley Boutique hotel was the first kettleless establishment we bought some coffees and had our sandwich lunch just outside the station, before continuing to the Cable Car, its Museum and the Botanic Garden.
We entered the gardens at the top and wandered downhill until we were outside the Government offices. There was a huge crowd and lots of music.
They were protesting about losing Radio NZ’s Concert FM channel, while at the same time celebrating the station’s 87th birthday. Something like that. See https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/arts/119758559/rnz-concert-supporters-take-over-parliament-to-protest-for-stations-future
It didn’t really bother me. Radio reception in the car had been very hit and miss. And we’d certainly never found the Concert channel. Not that I would have listened to it, I’m afraid.
That evening, gagging for a drink because we didn’t have a kettle, we headed to the quayside for a couple of beers at the Dockside Restaurant, then dinner at the Crab Shack. We chose the right time to eat. 5 minutes later and customers were queueing at the door. Susan had the Catch of the day and I had The Big Welly – a fish burger.
A great end to our holiday in the North Island.
With only two days left in the north island it was time to head towards Wellington. Rather than visit the art deco town of Napier, on the east coast, we opted to head south west to the Victorian/Edwardian Whanganui.
At Turangi we changed from SH1 to SH47 in order to visit the Chateau Tongariro Hotel on Mt. Ruapehu.
It was a cloudy day which meant we couldn’t see the tops of any of the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park.
We drove up to the cable car but declined a ride to the top for three reasons.
So we visited some more waterfalls.
On arrival at Whanganui we walked along the river bank to the end of the main street – Victoria Avenue. We passed some lads on cycles. The first two did wheelies and offered “high 5’s”: quite a skill. The youngest just said “Fuck off”.
At the bridge by Moutoa Quay I captured a couple of SB‘s. Then we searched for somewhere to eat. Not much open on a Sunday evening. We chose the Thai House Express. Cheap and plenty of it.
Since we very much liked our Dunrovin Motel room and since it was vacant, we decided to stay in Taupo for another night. The next morning we headed south to Turangi to walk along the Tongariro River Trail and watch some trout fisher people.
We sat on the river bank eating our picnic lunch opposite two fishermen. They were discussing packing it in for the day. They were obviously still hoping for a bite, but were now resigned to it not being from a fish.
In total we saw six people attempting to catch zero fish.
We returned to the i-site to visit their small but interesting volcanic display, where we experienced a simulated tremor of similar magnitude and duration to the one that happened in the Christchurch earthquake exactly nine years earlier.
That evening it rained, quite heavily, but briefly.
At Waimangu Volcanic Valley the Waimangu Geyser used to be a pretty powerful beast, killing 4 people in 1903, but nowadays it’s dormant. At the cash desk we were offered Seniors discount, which applies to the over 65’s. We declined. Later I realised I was wearing my “1958 – All origina parts” t-shirt, which is a bit of a give away. We opted for the valley walk, but not the cruise. After coffee and downloading the App, we headed off with our detailed Wanderer guide.
After the Inferno crater I took the Mt Haszard hiking trail ( the high road ) and Susan took the low road. We’d arranged a meeting point but Susan had gone past it.
When we arrived at Taupo, we visited the local launderette, but not because our clothes were sulphury. That evening we went down to The Lake House. We met neither Keanu nor Sandra. After a tasty Mexican themed meal we headed off to Countdown to replenish supplies.
We left the Coromandel peninsula by the same road that we came; there’s not much choice. We stopped for fuel at Tairua then coffee and cake at the Ironique cafe at Te Aroha. Next stop Hobbiton, which is apparently the most visited tourist attraction in New Zealand, and is just outside Matamata. Our guide was a student from Auckland who was just coming to the end of his fourth summer at Hobbiton.
I’ve never read the Hobbit nor seen the films and I wasn’t the only one in our group who hadn’t. Apparently some visitors think they’re visiting Hogwarts.
Towards the end of the tour, just before a swift half at the The Green Dragon Inn, we visited a games field where Susan tried the quoits. She managed it on her 4th attempt; the second quoit bounched out of shot.
Then we continued to Rotorua, stopping at Huka falls to watch people getting wet in Jet boats, and upstream of the falls, a duck wondering what people find so interesting.
Out Motel at Rotorua was only a very short walk to the best fish and chip shop in the town (Oppies) . But it was only a slightly longer walk to the Thursday night market, where we found food and drink in abundance.
We couldn’t smell the sulphur at the market but we could outside our Motel.
We took the long route to Coromandel, stopping to take a scenic view from a lookout point. When we returned to the car an American woman approached us and complained about the signage. She’d come up from Coromandel and said the viewpoint had been marked as being one kilometer away, but she reckoned it was a lot further. On the return journey I checked our odometer. It was probably a bit more than a kilometer but certainly no more than 2.
After a coffee stop we headed to the Driving Creek Railway a narrow guage railway entirely built by a potter called Barry Brickell. We took a ride up to the Eyefull Tower, where our driver / guide told us a bit more about the place.
Later we had a quick lunch – pies again – at the Coromandel Bakehouse – and did a bit more window shopping.
That evening, after stopping off at Mercury bay for a paddle, and booking our car for the South Island, we had dinner at the Stoked Restaurant.