Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Final Stretch
We are now in Taupo, on the final leg. Auckland is about four hours from here, and we will head out that way tomorrow. We are on our way to a walk to Huka Falls, a thermal waterfall about an hour from here. This evening, we are heading out to Wairakei Terraces for a Maori Hangi dinner and concert.
We left Westport, headed east to Murchison, then north to catch the ferry in Picton. Much of the trip was along the Buller Gorge, and was exciting. Incidentally, because of the up and down travel along the coasts, through the gorges, and through the mountain passes, we have put a fair number of New Zealand dollars in the tank of the faithful van. It runs like a top, with almost 400 000km on its odometer. It starts sharply, and responds well; however, several times at the pumps it has required more than a hundred dollars to fill the pig. That usually gets us about 400 kilometeres. Regular unleaded is $ 1.80 per litre, and diesel considerably less at $ 1.20. Next time, rent a Mercedes.
North of Murchison is the town of Motueka, near Nelson. We had been in touch with Lizz Conroy, formerly Corke, and decided to pay her and her husband a visit. Lizz is the daughter of the late Ben Corke, former Belleville mayor. Ena Corke lives with Lizz, and looks great. She is 92, I believe. I assumed that Lizz lived just outside Motueka. Wrong again. It was almost an hour, down side roads, over secret bridges, along rivers to their place. Earl is a naturopath and chiropractor, and they live the vegetarian life. They declined my request for a burger and fries for lunch. I have a photo of Lizz at Denise Porter's garden.
We camped at Motueka, near a delightful couple from Denmark. Amongst other things, he told me that he had been to Iceland, and had walked on a dormant volcano. He said that they were warned to run like hell if there happened to be any rumbling. (That same volcano is currently making headlines.)They are on the road for several months with three daughters. I left them my last Canada pin to fight over. (Note to travellers: Get some pins from Daryl Kramp. They are always appreciated!)
We headed east from Nelson, and discovered we could save a day by getting on an evening ferry. The drive east was really nasty, with a driving rain and powerful winds. I could feel the sideway shifting of the van as I drove. Not much fun in the mountain turns with recommended speeds of 25 kph. We caught the early ferry, and stayed at the Gateway Park.
We headed north from Wellington to Lake Taupo, on the Thermal Explorer Highway, once again. We passed through Te Rangiita, and Waitetoko, both professing to be the "Trout Fishing Capital of the World". I will leave it up to you to decide. I will also leave it up to you to pronounce both of those names correctly.
We are in the park with at least two of the top schools in New Zealand for cricket. The under 15 tournament is being held down the road. If Joanne insists, I will take her over to catch a few bowls. We met a couple of the boys in the hot tub last night. They bemaoned the fact that New Zealand has not done well lately on the pitch. In fact, they have beaten arch rival Australia only once this summer. They seemed to be keener on rugby.
We dined last night with the Jeavons, from Australia. In a couple of hours, I learned a great deal about their country. It is really a pleasure to meet knowledgeable folk en route, willing to chat about this and that. They now live north of Sydney, on the Gold Coast in Byron Beach, one of our favourite places in Oz. We chatted about roofing, insulation, rugby, and Kenny. I was advised to look for Charley and Boots, a follow-up to the Kenny adventure. We will not leave for home without it.
Off to the waterfall now. Later.