A VERY Mephitic Place…

Nancy received a very timely Word of the Day today – Mephitic means ‘offensive smelling’.  Well if you know anything about Rotorua, NZ, you know this city has a rep for its sulfurous airs.  There is a lot of geothermal activity here – even in the heart of town:

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But I am getting ahead of myself.  When last I wrote, she and I were getting ready for our respective water activities – mine was a dive on the Rainbow Warrior wreck.  If you do not remember this act of terror by the French Government and want to learn more – check out this site.  (https://nzhistory.govt.nz/rainbow-warrior-sunk-in-auckland)  <I have not tried to do a link in our blog before – I hope it works!>

It was a fun dive to @ 82 feet in (not quite Iceland) cold water. Pardon the funky color in the pic below – I had a red filter on my GoPro camera & forgot it was on. I went with Paihia Divers.  The owner of the shop dove with us and has promised more professional underwater footage but I don’t have it yet, so bear with me on these snippets.

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This is a YELLOW Moray Eel – about 6 feet long – you rarely see morays completely out of their holes, just swimming around.  I stopped filming as he became more interested in me than his normal diet!

My dive buddy – Rich from Orange County decided to pop in the ship for a visit. I felt it best to stay with him – number 1 rule in diving is never dive alone.

This vid shows what the outside of the wreck looks like with all the growth on it now.

While I was swimming under water, Nancy was snorkeling on the surface.  She was with 7 others at Robeson Island for hiking and then to a secluded beach for snorkels and lunch and Paddle boarding .  It was a 5 hour trip. 

We left Paihia the next day and on the drive to Warkworth (booming metropolis of 4,890) we made a couple stops – the 1st in Kawakawa (even a smaller town).  Why did we stop a mere 15 minutes after starting our trip, you ask.  Well, to answer your question, to go to the toilet.  A world famous public toilet, no less!  An Austrian artist – Friedensreich Hundertwasser (what a moniker!) designed this facility and finished building it in 1999 (not 1899, mind you). Nobody seems to know WHY he did this.

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After this stop, we visited one of NZ’s famous Glow Worm caves.  No photos of this from our cameras as it is not allowed since it disturbs the little critters.  You can read about it though at

http://www.kawiticaves.co.nz   

Apparently only NZ & Australia have such caves.

So, we moved on to Warkworth as a stopping point since while EVERYTHING here is close (the whole nation is smaller than California, it takes a LONG time to get anywhere.  Slow but good roads).  We were pleasantly surprised by how cool all these little towns are.  We were there on 11/11 which in addition to being Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day here, it is also my late Father’s birthday.  So, we went to a pub and I raised a pint of a lovely ale to him.

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We also found a very cool restaurant (Wharf Street Bistro) that served Nancy’s tacos (Yup) with a different way of presenting them.IMG_6035

There is a very neat little coffee shop in Warkworth that is Fab 5 all the time

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Back on the road to the Coromandel Peninsula.  Amazing scenery along the way to our next stop – the Driving Creek Railway.  

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The DCR is another weird story.  This fellow, Barry Brickell decided he needed to build from scratch, including digging out the land and clearing trees etc, (in 1973) a 3km narrow gauge railway so he could go into the hills and dig up free clay for his pottery business.  I asked our guide why BB just did not go to the store to buy some – he did not know and claimed that thought never occurred to him.  

It was a fun couple hours and our friend Bill W would certainly have enjoyed it.

 

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All along the tracks are pieces of art

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The pic below is a retaining wall – not sure how the builders would have been able to do anything with all the drinking that must have been going on!

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We stayed that night plus the next two nights were in the seaside town of Whitianga (pronounced Fitianga).  We had a nice apartment right across from Buffalo Beach, named after a tall ship that ran aground there.  Most everything else in the area was named after or by Captain Cook who coincidentally came through there exactly 250 years before us.  To observe the transit of Mercury so he could set his position on Earth’s surface (ha! We used GPS – much easier, Jimbo).  

(As an aside – we have heard a lot about this explorer in NZ.  The funny thing is, while I was in high school in Australia, I do not recall one word about the ‘discoverer’ of that continent ever hitting NZ first.) Just saying…

Whitianga is another small town with so much atmosphere and fun things to do.  We went just down the coast to the Hot Water Beach to dig in the sand at low tide to strike the 65C water just underground.  We think someone forgot to pay the power bill though as the temp was closer to 65F!  It was a lot of fun & crowded.  Nobody struck heat that day.  We think the Kiwis are ‘taking the Mickey’!  

However, we did strike the Hot Water Brewing Company.

(Nancy says scroll past the next pic quickly!)

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The next morning, we went with Ken on his Cathedral Cove Scenic Charters.  There were 4 other pax for this 3 hour tour.  We hit the coastal highlights in his sometimes VERY fast boat.

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Red snappers looking back – if it seems they are not rightside up, remember we are Down Under!

 

 

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We also saw a Blue Penguin on the way back in.

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As if all that was not enough, we did a 3 hour tour of The Lost Spring – a very funky spa.  Geothermal hot water feeds the pools of varying temps scattered around this place and they offer massages etc.  We INDULGED ourselves with foot rubs, massage & facials.  Ahhhhhhh.  

Here are some sunrise pics I took each morning on our beach. The black birds are Oyster Catchers and the other guy is a Dotteral.

We had a bit of a party one night but Nancy was able to rally (sort of) the next morning!

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Leaving such a fun place was a bit tough but we girded our loins and pushed off to further adventures.  

KatiKati is so nice, they named it twice!  Yet again, a town with an amazing amount of charm.  They call themselves the Mural City of NZ.  We saw lots of those and other street art as well as some nice beaches on the way there.

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This was just a lunch stop as we had to get to Okere and Tutea Falls: (BTW – Not us in the rafts)

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New Zealand is the land of ferns.  The bloody things are all over.  I have had some fun shooting them

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We have seen LOTS of cattle and sheep but this was a bit unusual for us:

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So, we have come full circle and we have caught up to Rotorua.  When I was here as a 16 year old with my friend, Aldo, we were hitchhiking all over NZ.  I specifically remember Rotorua.  I do NOT remember it this way!  The shot below is from Eat Streat – a group of 14 restaurants in one block – all very busy at night.  I had the best NZ beer ever last night – Croucher Ultra IPA at their own restaurant.IMG_6342.JPG

After dinner we went to another only in NZ attraction – the Redwood Tree Walk.  A 700m, 28 suspension bridge meander through the canopy – between 10 and 20 meters up.  Lit up with artist lanterns.

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Well, from the land of the Long White Cloud, I am ready to sign off, have Nancy proofread & send this. Our next dispatch will probably be from the South Island.

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On another note, I must say we are having quite the culinary adventure.

If you wondering where the food pics and descriptions are,  I hope you  subscribe to the paid version of this blog.

Until next time…

 

Chris & Nancy 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road Again…

With apologies to Willie Nelson (who most likely does not read all of my posts anymore), Nancy and I are on the road again.This will be a 63 day adventure! Yup, this is a looooong trip, my gentle readers.

This perambulation had us in Honolulu for about 25 hours before continuing our peripatetic ways flying to Auckland, New Zealand. We will be here until the end of November before pushing off to Australia. We are scheduled to leave Oz right before the new year, a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area and then finally home to Edmonds. Sheesh – that’s a frightfully long time to be away.

While we were walking around Waikiki on our one evening there, we discovered that both sets of our parents had stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in their early days.  Even I stayed there as a year old terror. So, of course, we had to go there for a Mai Tai!

Nancy on Waikiki Beach for our one Hawaiian sunrise

One of the reasons for this loooong trip is the loooong distance we had to travel to get here. Another is a celebration. After 26+ years of tax work at Puget Sound Tax Services, I decided to retire! To illustrate this, check out my NZ landing card:

This is the first time I’ve seen it in writing!  It is also the 1st time in over 50 years I do not have any gainful employment.  This will be quite the game changer but I feel we are up to it.

The photo above seems a tradition for us.  It is before takeoff on a  9 hour Hawaiian Airlines flight to Auckland. One nice part is the 1 hour time difference between Lulu and NZ (23 actually but our internal jetlag monitors don’t care that Sunday disappears in a few hours).

We WERE tired though from the go go go over the last several days. Fortunately our hotel in downtown Auckland had a gym and pool to get our blood moving in the morning and lots of coffee shops nearby – some with livestock!.

We rode the HoHo (hop on, hop off) bus to get our bearings, wandered around, had amazing food and surprisingly good beer and of course, NZ wine.  Auckland is quite the cosmopolitan city and there are lots of choices for cuisines.  We availed ourselves of as many as we could stomach (get it?).

In our short time there we had local, pan Latino, pan Asian and some weird but delicious Italian/Korean/US fusion.

Nancy’s book club (Hi girls!) is reading a non fiction book about octopuses.

(The paragraph below is from the internet so must be true)

We would go with “octopuses,” a perfectly legitimate English plural, and the oldest attested to. “Octopi” is also an acceptable choice, and one in wide use, but you run the risk of being informed that it’s incorrect. Well-meaning people may tell you that -i is a Latin plural, but “octopus” comes from the Greek.

So, we had to go to the aquarium to check them out. I was attacked by one but fought him (her??) off.

Since we are planning an Antarctica trip soon, I thought we should see their exhibit of King Penguins

Nancy says since we are NOT planning an Antarctica trip, we should see them at the aquarium since we WON’T be seeing them on an ice floe at the South Pole.

Hmmm, I wonder which one of us is right… to be continued.

After a couple days in Auckland we picked up our rental car and headed north to Paihia for a few days of beaching, diving and exploring.

Paihia means ‘good here‘. The Maori word for good is Pai and the way the locals say here is ‘hee-a’.

There is a lovely outdoor baa (bar) hia right over the water. I happen to be sitting here waiting for Nancy who is at a craft fair.

We found out yesterday that today is a cruise ship day in Paihia so we beat a hasty departure for the hinterland. We did not want to spend the day with 3000 newbies! When you have been in a place as long as we have, you get possessive about it!

What would a trip of ours be without some waterfall pictures? We found this lovely spot. This is Rainbow Falls:

The morning started a bit foggy but cleared up beautifully.

The Kiwis are justifiably proud of their nature here. Huge ferns and Kauri trees are just a couple examples. The tree is threatened by people’s shoes it seems. We need to brush and disinfect our feet prior to entering and upon leaving the protected areas.

I think that is all I have for this chapter. I hope you enjoyed the further adventures of Nancy and Chris.

Until next time – the selfie below is Auckland’s version of the Space Needle.