Here I am in NZ
That’s pronounced “En-Zed”. It’s what all the cool guys, and cool guy wanna-be’s like me, say.
I flew from SFO to LAX, waited an hour and got on the flight to Auckland. It’s a looooong flight. Watched a movie (Snatched, with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn) that Gail would never go with me to see. Slept. Ate. Eventually landed.
David was here to meet me. We had a reservation at Hertz, but they managed to lose it. Beth the Travel Goddess got us another one. It’s nice to be able to call home quickly and cheaply and have Beth there ready to fix any and all problems.
I’m letting David do all the driving. He lived in England for 6 months and is accustomed to it. So far he’s been perfect, and I get to look out the window, look up things on Google and navigate.
First stop was breakfast. We both wanted the Joe’s Diner sort of experience–we know what McDonalds is like. Boy, did we find it.
I could not pass up lamb chops and eggs, it seemed so quintessentially Kiwi. There soon appeared the highest fat meal I’ve had in 2018.
Just what you would expect from Joe’s Diner. Two random pieces of lamb, more gristle and fat than meat, eggs cooked in fat, fries. Some kind of sweet sauce on the meat. It should have a nitroglycerin pill on the side. I survived, but I won’t do that again.
We had a delightful chat with the man at the next table, who seemed like a regular.
I love to talk to people in places like this. The may not be founts of erudition, but they’re interesting as heck. It was important to him that we were Americans, not Canadian. Don’t know why.
We have 4 days together. Looking at the map, we decided to take 2 days to drive to Wellington down the West side of the island, and 2 days to drive back up on the East side. Destination the first day: New Plymouth.
This place is beautiful. Much like California, if we had 10 times the rain and 1/10th the people. Everything is green, the rolling hills are covered in trees. We kept seeing cattle, and I was becoming concerned because we hadn’t seen any of the vaunted sheep NZ is famous for. Then we saw these guys, and I made David stop so I could take a picture.
Kind of scraggly looking, but I guess they were shorn at the beginning of summer, in December. Sheep just roam here, over the hills and through the wood, not in tight flocks.
Since I had the camera out, I took a photo of David, so you should know who I’m travelling with. He’s 15 years, 7 months and 13 days younger than I am, and I raised him from a pup.
The art of naming waterfalls isn’t very advanced: it seems like half of them are named Bridal Veil, and indeed we saw a sign for such and turned off the road to find it.
A 10 minute walk from the trailhead, we found a not very auspicious waterfall, but are required by the tourist code to take photos:
The forest surrounding the area was lush and full of trees I don’t recognize, not that I’m all that big on recognizing plants:
This area is much like a rain forest, and I saw a plant that might have been more interesting than the falls.
We had wandered out to the ocean, to a tourist town named Raglan. Very big on surfing, it seemed a lot like Santa Cruz.
Stopping in a local bakery for a snack, I noticed this man sitting across from us. He had been in line ahead of me and we chatted–seems like a pretty normal, decent kind of fellow.
Because I always want to get my full share of veggies, I had the carrot cake. It turns out that this is very popular here, and every bakery has their own version of it.
The bottle of “blue” is milk. They have many flavors of milk here. Banana, berry, chocolate, and this one:
I didn’t have the nerve to try it, but I think it’s milk and honey.
Arriving at a hotel I found online while we were driving, I just collapsed and slept 11 hours. Now I’m adjusted to the time (it’s only a 3 hour time difference, and a day ahead, the easy way to express that this place is 21 hours ahead of California)
Friday we drove down to Wellington, enjoying the hills, trees, cattle, sheep and seashore. We got to talking to some guys in yet another bakery (and another, smaller, slice of carrot cake) and learned that there is a large lumber industry here, centered on Monterey Pine, which was imported from California 150 years ago. There is a ton of corn growing, and it is mostly feed corn for the cattle.
Now we’re in a hotel in Wellington, getting ready to go out to dinner. More tomorrow.