Monthly Archives: February 2017

Kia Ora, Aotearoa

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A snowy day seems like the perfect time to finish the New Zealand blog and bid a fond “Kia Ora” to the “land of the long white cloud.”

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A game that Don and I play at the end of a journey is the ABC game, taking turns naming a person, place, or memory that begins with that letter.  This time we collaborated on our trip to NY to visit Theodorable (no, we don’t stay home too long!!), and here’s our ABC list, incomplete because we always think of more!

A—albatross, Aspire Down Under, Abel Tasman
B–Blenheim, bowenite, buskers, biking, Burt Munro
C–cider, Carrick vineyard , Chloe (at Terra Sancta), Cathedral Cove
D–Dunedin,
E–equine races
F-Fjordland, Farelli’s , Franz Josef, Frankton Arm
G–glacier, Gunn’s Camp, Glenorchy
H–Hobbiton , Hans Herzog, Hawkes Bay, Hamilton, haka, Honest Lawyer
I–Invercargill
J–Jo, jade, Jens Hansen, Jaguar
K–Kia Ora, Kennedy Point, koru, kiwi, kayak
L–Lime Room, lamb, Lucy, L&P
M–Manuka, Maori, Monteith’s
N–Nelson, Napier, nightwalk
O–overlook, Otago
P–Pauanui, penguins, Punakaikai,
Q–Queenstown, Quentin
R–Rotorua, Rueapehu
S–Seleni, Silica Rapids, squid, Sky Tower, scones, scarfies, Speight’s
T–Thai, Taupo, Tongariro, Turangi, tramp , Tairei Gorge
U–Ujazi
V–Vanessa, variable oystercatcher
W–Wine Festival, Waiheke, WOW
X–diagonal cross-walk “X”
Y–yellow-eyed penguin
Z–Zealand (New)

So that list would certainly evoke some memories when we are in our 90’s and trying to remember where or when.

Our retrospective of the trip is this:  We traveled for five weeks,thinking that the distance was so great that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Well it was, but we so thoroughly enjoyed ourselves that we can no longer think that we’d only see NZ once.  There’s so much to experience, people are so friendly, we felt safe, and the distance wasn’t as long as we anticipated.

For those of you who have followed this journey and later will ask, “Where did you stay, how did you figure out where to go, etc., etc.” my answer is this:  for the first time ever we worked with a travel agent who arranged the itinerary and most accommodations.  Shelley Madsen at Aspire Down Under in NY was the mastermind.  We have saved the bound book we received at our first destination which has all of our accommodations and events she booked for us.  It’s always available for you to peruse.  We made some reservations on our own through Air BnB or Agoda.com.  We are always happy to share.

So I guess this is “Kia Ora” . . .hello and good-bye in Maori. . .

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when. . .

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A Little of This and a Little of That

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Sitting on the couch, ice on my knee (still swollen from my bike spill), sifting through photos, finding those I’ve missed.  So here are a few stories and photos, too good to let pass by.

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We did the hokey pokey numerous times, especially with Mike and Marty.  It’s the national ice cream flavor, a combo of creamy vanilla and tiny crunchy caramel chunks.

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We took this photo in honor of our son Marty.  

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Headline in a Kiwi newspaper.  They kept apologizing to us for the awful weather.  “Worst one in 4 years,” they said. We kept apologizing for our awful president.

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We just kept wondering what happens if the big blue van isn’t there when you have a kidney stone attack.  Are we lucky or what that we live only 5 minutes from the ER.

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We think this might have been some type of emu but there was no sign.  Seen in the museum at Waitomo Caves.

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In Rotorua we were looking for a store that sold NZ Jade.  Someone told us that there was a jade place in town.   Marty put “jade place” in her map finder and Mike drove us out, out, out of town.  We were thinking we were really going to make a good find, a local craftsperson, out in the boondocks.  We found Opal Lane, Gem Street. . . and then it dawned on us that Jade Place was a STREET NAME!!!!

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Are these some of the most lovely desserts ever?!  We found them at Melrose Cafe and one found its way onto our table.

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Franz Josef Glacier. . .commitments from around the world, including ours.

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Just in case you need a baby name. . . 

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How many times can you use a paper plate?  We carried a few with us that we rescued from Pop Weinberger’s house when we were cleaning it out.  We carefully used, wiped off, and reused them for our cheese, fruit, and cracker lunches.  This one made it all the way to Auckland, where we finally laid it to rest after 35 days on the road! Pop W. would be proud!

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One of our first impressions of Christchurch.  I’m not sure the name of it and even Mr. Google couldn’t help me out!

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Love the sign.  Wonder if it works?!

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Love this sign by a railroad track.  But why didn’t they have one on the track where I fell??!

OK. . .I think that’s about all of the out-takes I have.  We enjoyed many of the road signs that posted messages like “Feeling grumpy?  Change drivers.”  or  “Leave breathing space.”  But I didn’t take any photos of those signs because I was usually too busy leaning to the right so that I didn’t feel like we were about to go over the sides of the hairpin turns which never quit.

A final farewell in a day or two. . . .

Waiting for Godot. ..NO. . .To Go!

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The shuttle to take us to the airport will arrive in about an hour, just enough time to jot a few thoughts.  Not the final ones, mind you.  Those will come after a day or two of reflection at home, sitting on my couch with a pot of tea.  But a few notes now. . .

After that wonderful day in Waiheke we came back, rested, then went to dinner at The Orbit 360.

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The view of the Sky Tower from our hotel.

The view from the tower down below.

Dinner was lovely, a set menu deal, but honestly, we were both tired and not all that hungry.  Came “home” and fell into bed, slept soundly.  This morning our shuttle will arrive at 11 for our 3 pm flight.

More when we set foot back in the USA!

 

 

 

Waiheke Island

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Just a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland is a little paradise of beaches, holiday homes, millionaire “batches” (Kiwi for second/vaca home), and vineyards.  Waiheke Island was our destination today,our final one in NZ.

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The Auckland skyline as we pulled away from the dock.

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Approaching the dock.  So how did I take this photo??!

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I waited all my life for someone to meet me with a poster board with MY name on it!!

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Our guide,Jo, lives in Waiheke and whisked us off to three wineries.  First up. . .

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Our French guide shared four wines and four small paired tastings.  The Chardonnay and Merlot were our faves.

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Next was a Canadian audiologist’ s 4-year-old winery called The Batch.  Every single element of production is done by hand, or foot, including grape stomping.  The stomping is actually very hard work and gently extracts the juice from the skins.

 

Grapes here are grown vertically to allow more air circulation.  I’ve  never seen that before!

We didn’t like any of the wines we tasted at Batch, although the tour itself was quite informative.

Number 3–Kennedy Point–wow. Great instruction from Robb with his sense of humor and storytelling, not to mention fine award winning Syrah and Syrah rose.  It’s the first Syrah I’ve ever liked (usually too spicy but this one was smooooth). The vineyard is certified organic, and they have a herd of special cattle for manure, put oyster shells randomly in the rows, and protect the grapes from the birds with netting.

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Then it was off to Mudbrick Vineyard for lunch.  I had requested lunch here after reading about it online.  We were not disappointed!

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The setting and food were exquisite!   But were our palettes shot or what.  .. the tastings didnt excite us.

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HOWEVER, a case of favorites from Peacock and Kennedy will be showing up at 1270 in late March.  These wines are barely even available in New Zealand, and never in the rest of the world, so we know we’ll be enjoying some very special juice.

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Leaving Waiheke we felt a sense of regret that we couldnt stay longer in this sweet paradise.  But who knows what the future might hold!!

Starting to Wrap-It-Up

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We have one more full day tomorrow here in NZ.  Usually its about this time when we start to reflect on the trip,its place in our shared mental Rolodex of trip memories, and comb through photos to see what we’ve missed sharing.

So while we’re just chilling out here in our hotel room in Auckland, which by the way is a very nice  studio with sitting room, kitchen, bedroom, and bath, while watching Maori TV, we have a bit of time to catch up with what we may have missed.

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The Maori TV station features news, popular shows, and dance competitions, all in the Maori languages.  Imagine a US TV station carrying the same in the languages of any of our Native peoples.  We’ve treated our Native Americans very differently from the European treatment of Maori families.

 

Flowers were vibrant and plentiful.  Agapanthus grows EVERYWHERE in drifts along highways, in front gardens, in back gardens, and by driveways. In purple and white.  Breathtaking when you’re coming around one of those unexpected curves in the road, and then your breath is further taken away by the beauty of the flowers.

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Our two rental cars,expertly driven by Don over mountain passes with hairpin turns that never quit, on hours-long day trips when we passed signs stating, “New Zealand roads are different.  Allow extra time.”  This was NOT an alternative fact.

 

And then there were all those cars we happened upon and needed a bit of exploration. . .

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All for now.  Tomorrow is our final day here and we’re going to Waiheke Island for a wine tour and lunch at Mud Brick Winery.  Looking forward to a wonderful day!

A Day at the Beach(es)

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Aaaahhh. . ..Warm, clear sunshine in January.  This is what we love. . .easy living in a bathing suit and cover-up.  After another long, luxurious sleep after watching Lord of the Rings and drinking wine, we decided to head north to Whiatanga, seeking the Mussel Kitchen which we never reached.  However we did find

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Where we shared a plate of assorted smoked seafood. Dee-lish.  The green-lipped mussels of New Zealand are rich in iron and help decrease inflammation.  Good news for my knee, still recovering from that biking spill.  Here are some mussels in the grocery store:

So after we fortified ourselves we headed to Cathedral Cove, an iconic site featured in many tourist photos.

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The walk to the beach through forest, bright sunshine, up hills, and down hills was advertised as 45 minutes and we did it in about 30 each way.  Does that mean we’re in better shape than we were a few weeks ago?!!

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If I’m going to walk all that way, you’d better believe I’m going in the water.  Hello, Pacific Ocean!

Knowing that we were approaching low tide, the time that Hot water Beach is most accessible, we had to move on sooner than we would have liked.

 

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At low tide, the idea is to dig yourself a pool and allow the underground hot water to create your own little thermal pool without getting your buns burned.  “We” dug out our pool and I literally stayed there about 2 minutes because it was HOT!!!   My buns were hot!

Moving onward to home, we enjoyed our final evening with a snack supper and watching the second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.