Category Archives: Timeline

24 Feb 2020 – Whanganui to Wellington

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

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.

23 Feb 2020 – Taupo to Whanganui via Tongariro National Park

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.

  1. We wouldn’t be able to see anything.
  2. It would be a bit nippy at the top.
  3. Too bloody expensive.

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.

This giant steel ball at Whanganui is a sculpture entitled “Bearing”

22 Feb 2020 – Turangi & Tongariro River

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.

something falls because rain falls

Posted by Herb Miller on Sunday, 23 February 2020

21 Feb 2020 – Waimangu and Lake Taupo

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 original 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.

20 Feb 2020 – Hobbiton & Rotorua

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.

19 Feb 2020 – Coromandel & Driving Creek Railway

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.

All aboard. Choo choo!

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.

17 Feb 2020 – Dargaville to Whitianga

It was a fairly long drive from Dargaville to Whitianga ( 5 hrs, 400km ) so we set off early and stopped for coffee at Warkworth, where The Brokenwood Mysteries are filmed. After a brief rest at the Riverview Cafe we went shopping for a cold block for our chilly bag, which Susan found at the Hunting and Fishing shop, then we did a grocery shop at New World.

We were fairly tired when we arrived at Whitianga. We went to Grace O’Malleys Irish Inn. It was quite busy. The food was just OK. We sat at a large table where a guitarist called Andrew White was chatting to some Americans.

When his party left we continued the conversation with the Americans. They too were enjoying the narrow windy roads and the help that the car offered to keep within the lines.

16 Feb 2020 – Paihia – Waitangi Treaty Grounds – Dargaville

Before leaving the Bay of Islands we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s most important historic site. We arrived early, registered for the first guided tour and visited the original musem. After that we went to the cafe for a coffee. The guided tour lasted around 50 minutes, ending at the carved Maori meeting house where we experienced a high-energy Maori cultural performance. The visitors to the meeting house were represented by a young Polish man who gave an excellent reply to the Maori welcoming speech.

While on the guided tour I stopped briefly to record a cicada in full swing.

Cicada at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Northland, NZ

Next we took the gravel road to the Haruru falls, which were in full dribble.

Then we set off to the Waipoua forest on the west coast to do a bit of tree hugging. Trouble is, you’re no longer allowed near kauri trees. They’re suffering from kauri dieback, which is spread through the soil. First we saw the biggest: Tane Mahuta – Lord of the Forest then a few miles down the road we wandered further to see the second biggest Te Matua Ngahere – Father of the Forest.

That evening, we stayed in Dargaville and found a nice curry house for dinner. We were rather surprised to meet the Pole from the Maori meeting house in the same restuarant. Susan congratulated him on his reply to the Maori chief.

Impressed by New Zealand's very environmentally aware policies and procedures. Keeping their country clean from…

Posted by Susan Cowe Miller on Sunday, 16 February 2020

13 Feb 2020 – Auckland & Kelly Tarltons

Day two in New Zealand. We set off early to find breakfast at Sky City. Egg and bacon rolls and coffee, then took the red Soaring Kiwi bus to Sea Life Kelly Tarltons. We had a marvellous time visiting a replica of Captain Scott’s Antarctic base, watching penguins being fed, listening to a talk on turtles and finally watching the sharks and rays being fed.

Much later on we continued the bus tour to the Auckland Museum and then wandered down to the Winter gardens and fernery.

Back at the bus stop we waited ages for the Soaring Kiwi bus to take us back to Sky Tower and our hotel. After a quick go with the ensuite laundry we stepped out for our night visit to the Sky Tower then a Mexican meal just around the corner.

12 Feb 2020 – Auckland & Devonport

We arrived in Auckland in the early morning and took the SkyBus to our hotel in the CBD. After a quick change of clothes and rinse at the hotel, where we left our bags in store because it was too early to check in, we had a coffee next door then wandered to the Sky Tower. Having asked for recommendations at the i-site we purchased a 48 hour pass for the Soaring Kiwi bus tour. This included a trip up Sky Tower, which is what we did first.

Next, we couldn’t be bother to wait for the Soaring Kiwi bus to take us to the quay, so we walked there, negotiating major road works, and caught a ferry to Devonport, where we climbed a small volcano called Mt Victoria. Afterwards we stopped for lunch at Correli’s cafe.

On our return to Auckland CBD we took the red Soaring Kiwi bus ( Central loop ) all the way back to the Sky Tower, then checked in to our hotel.

In the evening we wandered out to Viaduct Harbour where we had drinks and food at O’Hagans. Susan’s steak sandwich was fairly inedible. She complained and got money off.

We were very tired when we got back to the hotel.