Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Feb2

Dave and I had to change rooms this morning because the room we had last night was reserved, and we were moved to an even nicer room. The rooms have been terrific all along.
Freda and Shirlee have made most of the reservations and all the rooms have had kitchenettes so we can prepare our own breakfast in the morning. Most of the rooms have not had AC though, nor do they have screens on the windows. So we open the windows and commune with nature.

The rest of the group was going to see the Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park which sounded fascinating but a little too strenuous for us, so we took a cruise on an old steam boat out to see some Maori carvings. The carving was on the wall of a cliff....a 30 foot tall representation of a full face tattoo, with every line having a special meaning. The tattoos make the Maori warriors look very fierce, and even the women had tattooed chins. This practice was discontinued many years ago, but I did see an elderly woman in the supermarket with a chin tattoo. Also on the cruise we saw Rod Stewart's summer home high on a hill overlooking the lake.

After the cruise we went to the Taupo Museum mainly to see the Ora Garden of Wellbeing, a garden that won the Chelsea Flower Show in 2004. It was small but had over 1000 native plants. And who do you think we ran into at the museum? The Gotterbarns and Goodwins were sitting in front of a TV "watching a DVD" (actually having a little nap). They exited and we took their places and had our own little nap. Then we went out to the rose garden....just so beautiful! Later we all went out for pub food and even at that little pub the food was incredible!

Tomorrow we leave for Napier, a town that was totally destroyed in the 1930's and then rebuilt in the style of the day...Art Deco.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I need a few more blog lessons. I wish I could label the photos but in this format I can't get the photos and narration to go together, so think of it as a puzzle where you have to pair up the pictures and the words. Some pictures show yesterday's activities in Rotorua...the visit to the salt flats, the visit to the Rotorua museum and the mud baths, and the trip up the mountain by cable car and the luge down. (The person on the chair lift is me returning from the luge ride) This morning we left Rotorua for Taupo. Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of the scenery on the way here...it was all rolling hills and farm land...just beautiful. On the way, we stopped at the Haku Falls, which are not large, but an incredible amount of water pours over, enough to provide 20% of the electricity for all of NZ. The amazing thing about it is the water...it's a beautiful crystal clear turquoise and it rushes in great currents into the narrow river, and over the drop, where it swirls in white drifts that look like merangue (sp?) Absolutely beautiful. My pictures just don't do it justice. Will I ever be a decent photographer? Our motel is across from a large fresh water lake. Don and Louis went parasailing over it this afternoon and the rest of us looked around the shops. We stopped and got a pastry in Bumble's Bakery, and some books from the bookstore then back to the motel until dinner. Shirlee chose a great restaurant once again. The food has been fantastic and some of us are a little concerned that our clothes are a little tighter than they should be. Dave says its the dryers we've been using, but I think that's wishful thinking. We've booked into Taupo for another day and there are more than enough things to keep us busy. Ah, life is very good!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

First week

I just knew this would happen! I didn't do any blogging for the first week and now the whole thing has run together...where we've been, what we've seen, etc. These are my impressions of the first week:

1)I've never seen such beautiful scenery as we've seen this past week. It's so breathtaking...the deep azure color of the sea up north was unforgettable!
2)I didn't realize NZ was so mountainous....driving these roads was quite an adjustment for a flatlander from Michigan, and combined with driving on the opposite side of the road presented quite a challenge.
3) Everywhere we go the people are so nice, even when I've cut them off in the roundabout
4) The Maori culture we've been learning about was quite a surprise. I thought the Maori were a very peaceful people but apparently they were quite fierce. We've enjoyed the Maori shows and exhibits we've seen and the Maori carvings are wonderful.
5) The seafood has been terrific. I've eaten fish of some sort every day since we've been here.
6) The number of cattle. I expected to see more sheep but we've actually seen more cows than sheep.
7) The lushness of the gardens and the size of everything. MJ, you would think you'd gone to heaven if you could see some of these gardens. We went to dinner at Don and Shirlee's friends last night. They have half an acre of land and on it he grows all kinds of fruit and nut trees...lemon, apple, grapefruit, passionfruit, pear, avocado, mango, hazelnut, to name but a few, as well as grape vines, tomatoes and more. And he just throws things in the ground and they grow with little or no attention.
8) Rotorua is VERY smelly. Today we went to some salt flats to see geysers on the beach, and the sulphur smell was almost overwhelming! So then we went up the mountain in a cablecar and I luged down the mountain...what a rush!!!! Found out later that Gotterbarns and Goodwins were there just before us and most of them did the luge too:-)
9) The terrain is so varied!!! In one day we went from a tropical rain forest to curvy mountains to a 90 mile beach that'ss classified as a highway!!! Good heavens it's like the whole world in microcosm!!!
10) I may never learn to do this, but everything Don Gotterbarn says must be questioned!!!!!
11) The Sky needle in Aukland was amazing and we really enjoyed the restaurant. Many thanks to Tiff and the rest of the Brantford Bowmans for treating us.
I didn't take many pictures the first week, but I'm going to attempt to load some now.