Category Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand

Kaikoura

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Street furniture Kaikoura

Marks decision to head south and pick up Highway 63 was inspired, we had a lovely drive south from Abel Tasman down through the fruit orchards around Nelson with the blossom just starting to come out. The road east took us along a wide river valley between towering hillsides, it reminded us of the Scottish Highlands. As we approached the town of Blenheim we drove through the Marlborough Wine region with vineyards on either side of the road stretching almost as far as the eye could see. We stopped for coffee in Blenheim, it was another modern low rise, town but it had a nice riverside park. From there we turned south and followed Highway 1 to Kaikoura. Continue reading Kaikoura

Marlborough Sound

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Entering South Island with North Island in the background.

We left Wellington on Thursday morning taking a taxi to the ferry terminal to catch the 09.00 ferry across the Cook Straight to the South Island. We were leaving the buzz of the capital city for the costal wilderness of the Marlborough Sound, an area of bays and inlets, islands and headlands, mountains and forest. After two days of winds gusting 40-50 mph and facing a three-and-a-half-hour journey across one of the most unpredictable stretches of water in the world I can’t tell you how much we were hoping that the forecast of calm weather would come good. Sure enough Thursday morning dawned calm and sunny, we put on our trusty wristbands just to be on the safe side and boarded the Interislander Ferry. Continue reading Marlborough Sound

Wellington

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Mount Bruce wildlife centre

We left Napier on Monday and took Highway 2 south to Wellington, capital of New Zealand. We had quite a lot of ground to cover and the car had to be returned to Hertz by 17.00 so we didn’t have much time to spare but several people had recommended the Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre and Kiwi Sanctuary so we planned to stop there en route.  Highway 2 follows the line of the Ruahine Range so as we drove across the plains of the Hawkes Bay region through wine territory and later through farmland we could see the mountains rising west of our route, some still had snow on them so they were quite a sight. We stopped for a break in Dannevirke and found a lovely café in a converted bank where coffee and cakes set us up for the rest of our drive. Next stop was the wildlife centre, we figured we could spare an hour there if we were going to reach Wellington on time. Continue reading Wellington

Napier

Now, before I tell you about our time in Napier I just want to apologise for getting a bit behind with the blog. To be quite honest we are having such a good time in New Zealand, and there is SO much to see and do we just haven’t had time to bring you all up to date. We promise to try harder in future, assuming we can find time out from our adventures! Anyway…

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Earthquake poster

 

…Napier is a small seaside town on the east coast of New Zealand, it is the centre of the Hawkes Bay region which will be familiar to any of you who read wine labels and is notable as an Art Deco town. Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and when it was rebuilt the builders chose to reflect the Art Deco style that was popular at the time. Two things about this stand out when you visit Napier, first the sheer number of Art Deco buildings, particularly in the centre of town where whole streets of shops reflect the style; and second that many of the buildings are very simple, homes, shops, village halls etc. In many places Art Deco buildings were commissioned by wealthy patrons and are often grand houses or business premises, in Napier the style was adopted for ordinary homes for working people. We saw an interesting exhibition in the museum in town that captured the detail of some of these homes inside and out. Continue reading Napier

Rotorua

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Fellow guests in Rotorua

Rotorua, centre of geothermal activity in New Zealand, we were both looking forward to our visit. The town is set on the side of Lake Rotorua, a flooded volcanic crater with a lava dome forming an island in the middle. When we got there our first task was to find a shop selling hats; we have been advised that the clear air and thin atmosphere in NZ means the sun can be very strong and you can burn very easily so we wanted to buy a couple of proper protective sun hats, we soon found the right shop and purchased factor 50 sun hats with built in insect repellence, perfect. Next we drove down to the waterfront, the weather was closing in and it was quite late so most places had closed down for the day so it felt a bit like English seaside out of season! We found a café and had coffee and a doughnut before getting back in the car and setting off to find the City Lights B&B. On the way we pulled into a park which showed on the map as having geothermal sites, we walked around a whole range of hot mud pools, steam vents and bubbling hot springs, the whole place felt very otherworldly and had a distinct aroma of sulphur. Continue reading Rotorua

Coromandel Peninsula

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Our home with a view, centre right

The trip from Devonport across to the Coromandel Peninsula on the north east coast of the North Island was uneventful, we took the more scenic coast road skirting the Firth of Thames and dropped in to the historic gold mining town of Thames to have a look around. We drove around the centre of town trying to find the gold heritage but failed, all modern and nothing to see (apparently you can visit the old gold workings but we couldn’t find any sign of them. We stopped for coffee ans as we left it started to rain so we set of for our next stop Tairua on the east coast.  Continue reading Coromandel Peninsula