A Travellerspoint blog


City of Art Deco

sunny 24 °C

Since having returned to Wellington a few days back, looking up all the activities and sights offered on the North Island (in addition to much needed laundry) has been the order of the day. So much to choose from. How to get it all in…

Alison and I picked up our Hyundai Getz – an itsy bitsy teenie weenie sub mini compact economy something or other – I’m reluctant to call it a car yet. We did manage to get all of our luggage in, which was an event on its own. This buggy does have A/C and power toys, although the placards and the owner’s manual are written in Korean – not a lick of English. At least the pictures in the manual are understandable since they transcend language. Still haven’t figured out yet how to set the clock and other selections on the dash. We’re basically just ignoring them, hoping that there’s nothing really important. For those of you still wondering, ya… I’m still turning on the wipers when I’m making a turn – ‘Dumb Guy’.

The whole gang left yesterday from Wellington to visit Murrette’s mother in Masterton (us in our Getz, Murrette and Gavin in their Lexus). On the way, we stopped at a bunch of wineries in Martinborough. Dropped a bundle on various pinots and chardonnays. Gonna have to drink them all since I don’t think we can bring them back. Tough life.

In Masterton, we met Murrette’s Mom, Maeve, who graciously provided us with dinner and a place to stay for night. The next morning, it was time to say ‘so long for now’ as we continued our travels north and Murrette and Gavin headed back to Wellington. A few tears were shed (Alison: yes, I admit it!), as we gave our good-bye hugs and kisses. Then, it was on the road to Napier, about 3 hours north.

We made a coffee stop at Clinton (Alison needed a ‘flat white’ at this point). Clinton is the closest point to Cape Kidnappers, where there are colonies of gannets (otherwise known as boobies). There’s supposed to be 20,000 of ’em. To view the colonies requires a hike along a beach front trail that’s only accessible when the tide is low. Unfortunately for us, our arrival there coincided with high tide. Rather than wait until the tide turned, we decided to continue on to Napier. So, don’t ask us what they look like, since we never saw them – google it if you’re interested.

Napier is a pretty interesting town. The town was leveled by an earthquake in 1931 and ensuing fire. The buildings were rebuilt over the next two years, all in art deco style which was all the rage then. That’s why Napier is the most uniformly art deco city in the world. We spent the rest of the afternoon, exploring the town, enjoying the architecture and marveling at the construction that was done in so short a time. Things can get done with 1000s of out of work people during the depression.

Posted by Ali-Mike 11:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Getz-ing on our way on the North Island

Do they make 'em any smaller?

sunny 22 °C

We're back in Wellington. Yesterday was spent travelling from Kaikoura to Gavin and Murrette's home. We did the wait thing for the ferry again, this time northbound out of Picton. Seas were relatively calm (for us) and the trip across the Cook Strait went quick. It did rain continuously. We'd picked up cooked cray fish (lobster like critters) in the morning and feasted on them for dinner along with fillet steaks and hokeypokey ice cream (hey, that what they call it).

Today, laundry called along with making arrangement for the North Island. Oh, and arranging for what they here call a car for hire. Something that we can toodle around to all the scenic sights in. More of a challenge than I expected. All we were able to find was a Hyundai Getz - never ever heard of it. A quick look on the web shows that it has a whopping 1300cc engine. That's less than my previous Harley had and I hope it's enough to get up the many hills and mountains they have here. We'll see. Look for photos and an initial report in the coming days. Hope that we can get into it after we put the luggage in. Previously on a visit to St. Bart's in the Caribbean, we rented a Smart car - another mini-sub-compact - we had to shut off the air conditioning just to get up some of their hills. Anyway, at least Alison is available to help push when needed.

Lastly, RPNYC (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club)... nice little place with about 50 boats, but doesn't hold a candle to Mimico.

Factoid: There are 173 days here where the wind is 32 knot or greater... that's over 60 kph.

Posted by Ali-Mike 01:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)



sunny 26 °C

The Nunnery (the Old Convent):
So we get to Kaikoura on Friday after a long drive up from Mount Cook and the ladies had gotten us booked into this convent for our stay here. Yes, a convent, as in nuns and prayer. Was there some hidden meaning? Do our ladies perhaps wanted us to redeem ourselves? Nice place, lots of flowers, friendly people. Nadda on the nuns though. There was a confessional. Looking through the history of this convent revealed that it was founded by Sister Mary L’Enfant… which I had misread as Sister Mary Elephant. Biff and shmuck from Alison. Some of you may remember a comedy recording by that name that was popular a few decades back.

They have this sheep named Kokopai which appears to be the house watch sheep. Likes to have her head scratched. Mostly sleeps and eats the fruit from the fruit trees all around the property: pears, peaches, lemons, grapes and I’m sure there’s more varieties we haven’t yet found. Anyway, they serve a big breakfast.

Swimming with the Dolphins:
This is the one activity that we were looking forward to. The wind was up and so were the seas. Thus the event was a nonstarter. Same for the whale watching trip. The tour pickup point would have been a converted railroad station which had been renamed by some clever Kiwi to ‘Whaleway Station’ (groan).

So without playing with the big fish (Alison corrects me: they’re mammals), we headed off to a local winery for some sampling. Great view from their deck. There was an outdoor wedding happening there in the sunshine and the poor bride lost her train and veil. Remember there was a bunch of wind. Actually, there were a number of hats that went past the fence and over the cliff. We didn’t buy any wine so you’ll get an idea of its quality.

Sealing our vacation:
A colony of seals was supposed to be on the coast, so we headed over to check it out. There they were, lying on the rocks letting us take their pictures, the hams. We got to get up close and personal to these furry creatures. Check out the pics.

With time on our hands, we followed the hiking trail along the coast and taking in the scenery. ’Nough said… here’s some pics.

Sheep Shearing
Lastly, there was a demonstration of sheep shearing. One of the sheep ranches puts on a twice daily demonstration and show. Pretty entertaining, although I suspect that the sheep really would rather have been elsewhere. They shear them twice a year and get about $18nz (~$15cdn) income per sheep per year for their wool. Kinda explains why many of the sheep farms have closed or changed to some other form of farming.

Tomorrow, we take the ferry back to Wellington on the North Island and Gavin and Murrette will be back to work on Monday. We’ve still got two weeks and will be gettin’ ourselves a car and continuing with our adventures. There’re glow worms, thermal mud pools and geysers and vineyards to find and explore.

Posted by Ali-Mike 11:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Mount Cook

Getting there by Hook, Hood or Cook

sunny 26 °C

Ok, so I can’t get the name of this place right. Today, we travelled from Queenstown northward to Mount Cook (which I’d also call Hood and Hook during the morning). It was only a few hundred kilometers with light traffic (as is usual) and the weather was great with sunny skies and warm temperatures.

There was a pit stop in Cromwell on the way. Small little town that was moved from its original site that’s now under water since they’d built a dam. But they gave everyone new houses and the like and it seems like a happy place. Some of the originals were saved however and now serve the best choco muffins and tea in Zland (at least according to Murrette). Picturesque.

At Mount Cook, we settled for lunch at The Old Mountaineer Café where I promptly lost track of which mountain was which. Easy enough to do with all the snow covered peaks around. Anyway, Gavin bet me $20 that I had the wrong mountain picked out as Mount Cook. Well… he was right, so I put the 20 bucks into an Ed Hillary fund for projects in the Himalayas.

Later, we hiked out to a scenic lookout and got some more great pics today. Enjoy.

Lastly, the video of us bungy jumping has been posted. Go back a couple of days to see it!

Posted by Ali-Mike 01:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Milford Sound

It’s really a fjord

sunny 27 °C

Up bright and early. The bus that was to take us to Milford Sound was picking us up from our hotel. Ya… 6:30am. Who booked this anyway? I thought holidays were for resting. OK, so I did get to sleep on the bus. No biggy. So, from Queenstown, it was about 5 ½ hours down and the same amount of time again back. Made for a long day travelling. But the cruise on the sound once we got there and the warm temperature and sunny skies made it a great choice. Captain Cook on his voyages of charting New Zealand somehow missed this (the entrance is hidden when looking at it from out on the Tasman Sea) and it was later discovered by a seal hunter seeking safe refuge from a storm. He named it after his home town in Wales. This is another of those places that one needs to explore.


BTW: What’s the difference between a sound and a fjord? I didn’t know this either but a sound is formed by river flow cutting out the land on its way into the ocean. A fjord is formed by the scouring of the land by a glacier. You can determine which it was by the depth of the entrance as the fjord will have a shallow entrance due to the bolders and rocks that were pushed ahead of the glacier. There you go, now you’re educated too.

Some ramblings from the past days:
Some have asked about the bungy and where’s the video. Well, the internet’s a bit slow and uploading the video was gonna take longer than tolerated. I’ll post it as soon as I can. Murrette and I had a side wager going that Alison wasn’t gonna jump. 10 bucks. Part of the bet was that she and Gavin couldn’t be trying to talk her out of it, which they didn’t. Murrette was surprised when Alison walked out onto the jump platform, but she paid up.

The jet boating was great as well, but the pics just don’t capture the adventure. And then there’s the getting totally soaked as the driver did these skidding donuts. The first 20 or so were a blast, but the last 20 got old, especially when that glacier runoff ice cold water drenches you each time. So the camera got put away. Of course, Alison’s wet T did add some consolation… and no, can’t post those pics either.

Posted by Ali-Mike 11:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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