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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip-Part 4-North Island New Zealand

Footnote: I apologise to all readers for the inevitable inaccuracies in this account, but my memory isn't what it used to be and it never was much good. I also intend to cut down on detail a bit, otherwise I’ll never finish.   

North Island New Zealand

         Qantas Flight 117 Sydney to Wellington turns out to be a Boeing 747.Very comfortable flight.
             I am met at Wellington airport by Allan Dodge his wife Sue and their daughter Sarah. Sue is the daughter of my Uncle Stanley, my fathers younger brother, who has resided in New Zealand since he was 15.Allan works for Fonterra Research the NZ Dairy Board,and Sarah is at college. Sue was in the UK in the mid 70s but we never met.

Uncle Stan and cousin Sue

We have corresponded, and over the years Uncle Stan would keep us up to date on his family. Allan has booked us all into the Bella Vista motel for the night due to it being such a late flight.
    Friday 4th July 2003 Independence Day. The first thing I notice today, is the cold, good job I came prepared.
     After checking out of the motel we head off in Allan’s car for downtown Wellington. Allan by his own admission is no city driver but we make it to the car park of 'Te Papa'(Maori for Our Place),the national museum of NZ.
       Here I get a fascinating insight into the peoples the culture and the unique natural environment of the country .Allan and Sue could themselves be museum guides being so knowledgeable about so many of the exhibits.
             A walk outside and its a lovely sunny day on Wellington harbour, very picturesque.
Me Sue and Allan

      After a walk we decide to do the circular bus trip to see the city. This included a view of the country's parliament building aptly named the beehive. As usual I’m busy with the video camera.
           I've decided I need a car in NZ, so were heading north along Lambton and Wellington Harbour. Quality rental cars are the cheapest I could find and they're located on School road. We nearly missed it, laughed about it later. Allan’s happier in the nice quiet country roads round Feilding.
        The car, a Mazda's got a few scratches but turned out to be excellent as did the one I got on South Island.
            Somewhere round Johnsonville or Churton Park (my diary is a little sketchy), we called in to see Allan and Sue's friends Charmaine and Rob. They’ve a beautiful house and lovely teenage kids Marcus, Sharon and Anita. I remember one being very talkative, obviously a budding politician. We were beautifully fed, the warmth of New Zealand hospitality is no fallacy.
          With Allan in my car and Sue and Sarah in theirs we got to Feilding and I slept like a log that night.
        Saturday 5th July (Michele's birthday). Dewe Avenue, Feilding is a quiet cul de sac in a quiet but spacious town, and the views to the distant snow covered hills make it a nice place to live. Sue, Allan and the kids are very much into country pursuits, tramping or rambling being one of the main ones. Their son David now apprenticed as a painter is well into fishing and they are so lucky to be within easy reach of some beautiful rivers, country parks and rugged landscapes.
The kids

          Sue, Allan and myself head off to see their friends James and Ruby Chu in Palmerston North. We have a lovely afternoon of tea and cakes, meet James's brother Steven, I get threatened by Allan with a hollow spear and Ruby's laughter is infectious.

The Chus the Dodges and me

            Back in Feilding we're invited to a barbecue, it’s a cold night but the food is hot and the company pleasant. I also meet David and his girlfriend.
       Sunday 6th July. I go to church this morning with Sue, Allan and Sarah. Having met their pastor, a Canadian called David at the barbecue, I’m warmly welcomed. Afterwards I talk to a female Swiss artist with dreadlocks and a large Maori lady.
       After lunch we head out to the country and the Pohangina  valley, and I get the feel for the real natural beauty of NZ. It's a cold but sunny day and we head through lush valleys with wending rivers and snow covered hills, stopping regularly to admire the views .We sight deer, sheep, cattle, birds of prey, children snowballing, and pass through Cheltenham and Kimbolton. We stop at the Totara reserve and go on a bushwalk. Sue and Allan seem to know the name of every living thing and Sue hugged a tree. A steep climb to a lookout platform and we're looking over the canopy of the natural bush, and sitting here writing this now I admit to a feeling of envy.
Me and Allan overlooking the Pohangina valley

          We then head out to the sleepy town of Apiti,with big  wide streets, very little traffic and no sign of the residents. Eerily quiet. It may be apathy.

Apathy! Sorry I Mean Apiti

             Back to Feilding where we watch and record the days videoing. Then spend the evening looking through family photos and talking genealogy.
        Monday 7th July. Packed, breakfasted and said goodbye to the Dodges, sorry I didn't get back on my way to South Island.

         Monday 7th July to Saturday 12th July. I’m condensing this week into highlights and photos. I travelled up the 'Desert road' through the Tongariro national park and viewed Mount Ruapehu, where some of Lord of the Rings was filmed(in fact I was in quite a few L. of the R locations throughout my trip).The majesty of all of New Zealand’s mountains is breathtaking.

Mount Ruapehu

Next were the Lakes Taupo and Rotorua with the beautiful black swans .

                        Taupo                                                     Rotorua
         Bed and Breakfast in Toko St Rotorua with Gwen and John from South Yorkshire where the hot tub water came straight out of the ground.

Beautiful and relaxing.

         Mud and sulphur pools, geysers and steaming vents next at Wai-O-Tapu and Te Whakarewarewa, when I could get past the South Korean and Japanese tourists.
Champagne Lake Wai-O-Tapu
           In these thermal valleys there are places off the beaten track where you can go and bathe in warm rivers and pools, but generally the most spectacular places are run as tourist attractions and can be quite expensive. Definitely a must see at least once though.

Geysers and Silica terrace Te Whakarewarewa

        Next I headed eastwards via the picturesque Pureora forest park to Te Kuiti. Past the Mangaotaki and Mokau rivers to the east coast. I don't think I could truly describe the scenic beauty of this country.
        Got good sustenance in the 'Fisherman’s bar' in Urenui and a cabin in the Onaero motor camp right next to the sea. This cabin at 23 dollars a night was a good deal having declined one further up the coast at 50 dollars a night, and I had my choice of 5 beds.
             It started raining on getting to the east coast and never stopped for a couple of days, the little trickling river behind my cabin became a raging torrent. Wet wet wet. Beachcombing the driftwood around the river mouth I found the carcass of a dead seal and watched as the cliffs collapsed under the onslaught of the river. Where was the camera when I needed it.
            Round New Plymouth and Mt Taranaki or Egmont was a wet affair. Taranaki on a clear day is the most spectacular of North Islands mountains, and after driving up to the visitors centre I climbed up the snowy paths for about 200 of the 8200 ft towards the summit. Having said that, the visitors centre is probably already 1000 ft up. Everything was shrouded in mist and this means I've got to go back in clear weather. Here’s a picture from the official guide.
Mt Taranaki also known as Mt Egmont

         Down to Wellington to catch the boat. Had tasty bacon sandwiches in Wanganui, a Chinese meal in Wellington. Took the car back, I’ll get a replacement in Picton on South Island. Then to the Interislander.

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