Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day 30 Home at Last

Two back-to-back red eye flights, but we lived through it

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Days 28 & 29 The Not So Routine Trip Home

Welcome to Camp Northrup.
This grainy picture is the area of the Honolulu airport where we are camped out for the afternoon and not by choice or design. We are in between back-to-back overnight flights. The floor is a map of the island.
Our flight from New Zealand only got 147 miles out over the Pacific before it had to turn around and go back to the airport. Cockpit computer problems.  By the time they replaced the computer and got back in the air, we had missed our flight to San Francisco. Our only choice is another overnight flight.

Day 27 Exploring Auckland

We couldn't do high tea at the Sky City Tower because it was already booked. But we went over there to investigate because Patrice swore she saw something fall off it. When we got over there we discovered that they let people sky jump off the top in a super bungy jump sort of thing.  A 1000 foot drop! We got there just in time to see a guy hurtling to the landing pad and screaming his head off.
We spent the afternoon at the Volvo Ocean Race Park. Auckland is the halfway stop for the their around the world race. More pictures later. 
We finished off the day with dinner back at the tower.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Day 26 Taupo to Auckland

I start the day with a 5K run in the Taupo countryside,  Other than the double-trailer logging truck that breezes by within a foot of me, nobody else is on this gravel road at 6:15a..  Then we jump in the car for the 3 hour drive to Auckland. We return the car and catch the bus into the CBD.

Since we're near the harbor, we take the ferry across it to find a little French bistro.

The fast ferry ride over to Devonport is cheap and only takes 11 minutes.  Over there you can find a plethora of sidewalk cafes without the hustle and bustle of Auckland's CBD.

We have always been fans of serendipity. This little bistro was excellent.

We are lying in bed and hear a series of bangs and booms coming from what seems to be upstairs. We open the curtains and look out our window and there are fireworks.  Sorry, couldn't get a good picture of that but here is view of the Skytower outside our window.  We are planning to do "high tea" there tomorrow.

It's hard to believe we start the journey home tomorrow night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 25 Exploring Taupo and Vicinity

Taupo is arguably the place where Kiwi's come to play.  There are lots of natural wonders here with the biggest lake in NZ (Lake Taupo), a big waterfall (Huka Falls) and so many geothermal steam vents that the town gets it's power and heat from all the steam.

 There's so much going on here that it has drawn people to create other points of interest here.  One of those is Lava Glass created by Lyndon Other's glass blowing studio. He has a great set-up to blow glass and talk to tourist's at the same time.
You can't see it from the picture, but he actually has a little bleacher to pack in the tourists and tour buses that visit his studio in peak season. Why couldn't we do a "map-making" demonstration at the Map Shop?

 In addition to his studio and well-stocked Gallery, he has also created a blown glass garden stocked with a 1000 pieces of his work.  It opened just last year with a ceremony by NZ's Prime Minister. It looked to us like he makes good money off booking it for weddings in its amphitheater.
And yes, this is where we got a souvenir for our trip.

After lunch, we visited Huka Falls; named after the Maori word for foam.  It's the foam that turns the water that beautiful shade of aqua.

Later that afternoon, we strolled along Lake Taupo, had an early dinner and packed up for our long drive back to Auckland. This picture shows yet another Maori carving. I had no idea how much the Maori culture was woven into every day life in NZ. Many places show signs in English and Maori.
  Two days in Auckland and we will begin our journey home.

Day 24 The drive down to Taupo and the Alpaca Farm

In Otorohanga, we were very close to the Waitomo caves. They are famous for the glowworms that inhabit the ceilings and walls of the cave.  We descended into the cave then boarded a boat in almost total darkness. The effect was pretty cool. It reminded me of a scene from the movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.  I joked that they could have achieved the same effect by recessing 1000's of green LED's into the rock.

This section of NZ is famous for its karst topography. That means the landscape is full of well rounded hills and outcroppings. Here is an example along the road to Taupo...

  Distances in New Zealand are deceiving. Things that appear close on a map are much farther when you factor in winding 2-lane roads. So just getting to Taupo took us almost half a day. But when we arrived we were greeted by Jack the farm dog / greeting committee. We were shown to our comfortable cabin with a view of the sheep and alpacas.

We went into Taupo for dinner at Dixie Brown's and noticed the McDonalds in town. It's the only Micky D's I have ever seen with a DC3 for a playground

Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 23 and the Raglan Surf Beach

Raglan is on the Tasman Sea and is famous for black sand and surfing. We drove about an hour west to the coast. Here on the North Island, if you're not on an expressway, then you're on a curvy two lane highway.
We stopped in town for lunch where we heard a table of girls talking about surfing. As we checked out I told them I would have to erase that from my bucket list because I was too old.  They strongly disagreed so maybe on my next trip to Hawaii....
We made our way back to the Kamahi Cottage for a look at the sunset and an early dinner.