February 26, 2016
Presently sitting in Blenheim in the Marlborough District of the South Island. Yesterday we traveled from Napier to Wellington. It was a long drive but an uneventful voyage through farm country. We pulled over for lunch outside of Masterton at a picnic spot. You never know what you find. The picnic spot was the location of the main New Zealand army training camp in WWI and the site of a Japanese POW camp in the second war. They were taken by US forces in the Solomon Island group (i.e. Guadalcanal). I had always thought Japanese prisoners were rare. This place held hundreds. We also stopped at a WC in a town dedicated to Vikings. Those Norsemen sure got around.
The night in Wellingham was exciting as we got to experience rush hour traffic with us in the middle of downtown. Now I have managed my share of big city driving but visualize San Francisco density and hills with roads the same width as a town like Sonora. One way roads everywhere and plenty of pedestrians and suicidal bicyclists careening in front of you. We decided to do “take away” Chinese. The city is built like a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle or an Escher painting. The easiest way to get to the shopping street from our hotel was through a parking garage elevator down the street. We then found ourselves in an underground tunnel that led to sunlight. City Kiwis take it in stride. The worst part was the wind that was left from the remnants of the cyclone that leveled Fiji. It howled all night setting up the question about our boat ride today across one the world’s most dangerous crossings.
The crossing was fine with just a few rough spots. Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy like our previous crossing. Peggy and Bobbie went up topside for a few pictures. I remained close to my newspaper. It also gave me a chance to think about our trip. I have concluded that New Zealand is a not to be missed country. For English speakers it is one of the easiest places that we have traveled through. The language may be English I still have to ask frequently for the Kiwi clarification. The accommodations have been on the whole terrific and a tremendous value. Luxuries like laundry and hot tubs are common enough to make a lengthy trip such as we like easy. The cuisine is not overly imaginative and if I liked lamb, I would be happier. But there are plenty of Asian options in almost every town and we have felt no need to drop down to the US fast food level. Besides who can beat a Kiwi burger with a fried egg on top that requires a mouth like an anaconda to eat. Restaurant prices are very reasonable even though we find the kitchens and barbecues at the motels make “glampimg” easy. Enough for logistics.
From near polar conditions in the far south to subtropical in the far north, almost any climate can be found. You find yourself easily crossing the central mountain ranges and going from east coast to the Wild West coast on both islands. Oceans, mountains, glaciers, jungles, vineyards, unique plant life, birds and plenty of friendly locals make it one of the great countries to visit.
We are going on a wine tasting tour tomorrow before we head towards Christchurch. We still have plenty to see and experience.