New Zealand 2017

January to March 2017 — Christmas to New Year’s in Hawaii with Max and his parents, then 3 months in New Zealand, and a quick stop in the Cook Islands before heading back home.

Napier – Day 1

We had breakfast and packed up and said goodbye to Chris and Angela in Rotorua. It was grey and drizzling and Chris said the weatherman was warning of high winds through the pass down to Napier, so ‘be mindful’ driving today. 

The road down to Napier, on the east coast, goes through Taupo, a city next to New Zealand’s biggest inland lake, Lake Taupo, in the central part of the north island. Chris suggested three points of interest along the way; all three were in Taupo. In fact, we were considering Taupo as a possible place to park ourselves for a month or so, so this would be an opportunity to scout out the place.

After an hour’s drive south we arrived in the Lake Taupo area. Our first stop was at a honey store — featuring ‘Manuka honey’. Hey, that’s on that list of ‘must try’ items a NZ girl gave to Sue on one of our walks yesterday! Manuka honey is a monofloral honey that comes from the nectar of the manuka tree. Here was a place to have a taste. Sue was taking a closer look at the $117.50 price sticker on a small jar of honey, and made a comment about it to the lady tourist standing next to her, something about our good Canadian honey. Turns out the lady was also from Canada — whereabouts? Manitoba. Where in Manitoba? Near Brandon. Small world. And the honey? Meh, maybe next time we come to New Zealand!

Next stop, Huka Falls. Apparently this 11-metre high waterfall is the most visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand. Well, if everybody’s taking photos, we must too.

We were watching the clock — the next stop was at the Aratiatia Dam. Chris had told us that they open the dam at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm, and 4pm daily. It was a quarter to 12 when we parked our car in the roadside parking lot. We had just enough time to hike up (8 minutes) to the ‘top lookout’ (yikes, all this hiking and climbing must be cancelling out SOME of those calories from that big bag of chips!) We arrived at our lookout and found we were the only ones up there! Well, not for long. Soon we were joined by about 10 other camera-toting foreigners who soon finagled their way in front of us! And after a horn sounded 3 blasts, the dam gates of the Waikato River were opened. And sure enough, it only took a few minutes for the quiet river in the gorge to churn into a fast flowing waterfall! Apparently this was where they filmed the ‘barrel’ scene in one of the Hobbit movies (not that WE would have had a clue what that means!)

We hiked back to the car. Next stop — lunch. McDonald’s is right downtown, lakefront, in Taupo. We took note of the many hotels, motels, and apartment buildings along the shoreline drive as we drove through the city. And after refuelling the car, we were back on the road. 

The winding up-and-down drive to Napier took us 2 hours. And yes, there were buffeting winds at a few points, but really the drive was quite enjoyable. (At least for me. I may have a tough time trying to explain why the floorboards are pushed out on the passenger side when we return the car to the rental shop.)

We found our B&B. Parked the car. Were welcomed by our hosts, Graeme and Robin. Very friendly. Cyclists. Nice house, ‘neat as a pin’ Sue says. After serving us drinks (2 drinks each, actually) all four of us head out into town. They give us a tour of the surroundings. Lots of restaurants all around us. We’re right near the beach. Not far from golf courses and wineries. Bike trails everywhere, and they have bikes for us to use. 

Sue and I eat at a Thai restaurant. When we come back to our house, Robin has the TV on — shows me that ‘my’ NFL football games will be available on ‘free’ TV tomorrow morning at 10:30! So I won’t have to go sit at the hotel sports bar we’d visited earlier to make arrangements.

We visited until about 10pm. Then we went upstairs to our bedroom and I watched the highlights (low-lights?) of the two NFL playoff games I’d missed today. At 11:30 we turned out the lights.

Napier – Day 2

We slept in a bit this morning. When we got downstairs we were alone — Graeme and Robin were both gone for the day. Sue made breakfast. I sent Brian a text — offered that he could join me at 10:30 to watch the Packers – Cowboys game on our TV.

Sue in downtown Napier

At around 11 the Funks showed up. Sue and Val went to the grocery store a block away to buy sandwiches for lunch. The boys sat in the house and watched football. The game started poorly for Dallas but they fought back and tied the game, only to lose it on a last second field goal. The girls left to go for a long walk into the city centre after lunch. Graeme came to join us for lunch before going back to work at his son’s custom boat building shop. Robin was babysitting 2 of her grandchildren.

After the game we sat around a bit. I suggested we go for a short walk before the girls returned from theirs. We walked around the waterfront, looked at some of the restaurants. When we got back to the house Robin was back, and the girls were still not back. When they returned we sat at the table for a while.

The Funks were discussing options for themselves — they have 2 weeks left and still want to see the south island and the area north of Auckland. I was a little uptight about our own plans: if we didn’t find an apartment around here today, we’d better have a plan — and find something down the road for the next part of our trip. 

When the Funks left to go back to their B&B, Sue and I got ready to go into town to see what we could find. At the last minute we asked Robin, our host, whether we might stay in the ‘attached’ studio apartment behind their house. The current renter has lived there for the past 6 years, but is moving out this Thursday. Robin gave us a quick tour of the apartment — quite messy, but the guy is in the middle of ‘cleaning up’ and moving out — and it looked like it would suit us perfectly. When we asked about a weekly rate Robin’s price was VERY attractive. But the room we’re in now has been booked by other guests for Tuesday to Thursday, and so we need to make alternate arrangements for the until Friday. Should we go into town? Sue suggested we sit down and check online. And we found something and booked it. And then we texted Funks, asked them to pick us up at 7 and we’d all go for supper at a downtown pub.

We had happy hour with our hosts until the Funks showed up just before 7. We all piled into the CRV and rode into town. The Funks had also had a ‘family meeting’ and reported that they were no longer intending to go to the south island. They will go down to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand located at the southern tip of the north island,  and then turn around and follow the west coast up to the northern tip of the north island. They’d decided that with only 2 weeks left, going to the south island would be just too much driving and not enough ‘seeing’.

We found the Irish Rose Pub in the city centre. Luckily for us it was ‘Quiz Night’. So we entered the ‘Funkenstein’ team into the competition and played along while we had our pizzas and Guinnesses. Fun times. We didn’t win, but we didn’t come in last either. 

The Funks chauffeured us home at around 9:40. We sat in our room and read the news and watched some youtube videos. At around 11:30 we went to bed.

Taradale – Day 1

Since our B&B is getting new guests tonight, we have to move out for a few days. We’ve booked another AirBnB in Taradale, about 15 minutes south of where we are in Napier.

We slept in a bit and had to hurry to get out of the apartment by 10:30. Robin popped in just as we were having breakfast so we had a chance to say goodbye. We’re pretty sure we’ll be back here on Friday, in our own apartment.

Beautiful flower displays in Napier's town centre.We drove to the Napier city centre and stopped at the Information booth. Picked up some brochures and maps so we know where the golf courses and the movie theatres are. We took a walk into town and found the movie theatre. We decided to hang around — have lunch in town, pick up a few groceries, and then see the 12:45 showing of “La La Land”. The downtown movie theatre is showing all their  movies for the discount price of $10, so that’s a good deal for us. They have 4 screens and quite a good list of current movies which we haven’t seen and would interest us.

We hadn’t seen a movie for quite a long time, and it was fun. Big comfy seats, so the 150 minute film didn’t even seem all that long. Sue really liked it; I thought it was okay. A good way to stay out of the hot midday sun. 

After the movie we drove down to our ‘new’ B&B. Hmmm… A yappy barking dog. The lady of the house also does facial massages and ‘spa’ treatments. Our bathroom had a jar of perfume with scented incense sticks on the window sill (which I immediately removed and put out into the hallway). But the room is clean, the bed is good, and so is the ensuite bathroom. I think we’ll manage for 3 nights.

After settling in and unpacking, we got back into the car and went looking for nearby golf courses. The nearest one looked quite good. It was after 4 o’clock and we were hoping for a twilight rate, but it so happened that today they were all booked up with a local tournament. How about tomorrow? Yes, anytime after 3pm is ‘twilight’ and you can golf 18 holes for $15. Wow! that’s great! 

So we drove to the next course. Actually 2 courses, a 9-hole municipal course and a very nice 18-hole one next to it. We opted for the 9-hole — $10 each, and it looked like we’d not have to wait for anyone ahead of us. In fact, the old-timers that were coming off the course were enjoying their beers on the parking lot!

The course wasn’t all that good, but we had a good time. Sue played quite well and ended up beating me by one shot.

We looked at the neighbouring course but it was all closed by the time we finished our round. Next time. We drove back towards our B&B but decided to first drive into the town centre and scout out a place for dinner tonight. We ended up at a restaurant called ‘Dukes’, not far from our place. Sat outside and shared a big combo plate. Pretty good. 

Then we drove back to our B&B. Sue read in the living room while I computed for a while. By 10pm we were in bed.

Taradale – Day 2

We slept in until about 8 o’clock and didn’t come out of our room for breakfast until around 9:30! After breakfast we went for a stroll around the neighbourhood. The stroll turned into a pretty serious walk — around the park behind our B&B, then up along the main street right up to the main intersection, and then back to our place — all-in-all about 5kms. Then, after doing a bit of computing, we drove back into Taradale town centre and walked through the downtown. Not a lot of choices as far as places to eat. And the stores that had some of their wares out on the sidewalk — well, it all looked a little ‘junky’. We had a sandwich (a muffin and cappuccino for Sue) at one of the cafes and then headed back home.

Sue read and did her exercises while I worked on a web project. I was looking through one of the brochures for ‘What to do’ in this area when I came upon a listing for a concert at one of the local wineries — James Taylor will be performing outdoors on the grounds of the Old Church Winery on Sunday, Feb 5! Well! Are there tickets? Yep, some general admission tickets are still available. We should go down there and check it out. It’s only about a kilometre from here.

So at around 3pm that’s what we did. The ladies in the lovely winery restaurant couldn’t really help us — but they DID show us the big green field where the concert would take place, and although they couldn’t sell us the tickets (we’d have to do that online), one of them took a photo of Sue and me hanging out with JT!

We left the winery and headed down to the Napier Golf Course. After 3pm the rate is $15 for 9 nine holes. We each bought an 18-hole round. And we had a lovely time. The course was in quite good shape (although it’s been very dry here for quite some time, the fairways were mostly lush and green). No waiting for us — and no pressure coming up behind us either. Really, we had NO excuse not to golf better than we did! But we had a lot of fun. By the last few holes I was really dragging myself around the course — what with the big long walk in the morning and the walks and golf yesterday — and my feet were aching.

We drove back into town and stopped at a ‘fish ‘n chip’ shop. We took the food home to our place and ate it outside in the backyard.

Our lady had left for the evening. Her dog was whining in the living room. Sue was texting with Val Funk — making arrangements for the Tongariro Hike — a 19.5km hike across some volcanic mountains that we’ve talked about doing. The Funks want to do it on Friday and invited us to join them. It means that we need to book a B&B in Taupo for Friday night (which Sue did) and delay our move into Graeme and Robin’s apartment until Saturday. In the meantime, I booked us tickets to the James Taylor concert on Feb 5. So that means we’re hanging around Napier until at least then — a total of 3 weeks. But really, everytime Sue looks at the weather anywhere around us — even Wellington, which is only about 4 hours south — it is cold and rainy, while we have sunshine and wind!

Taradale – Day 3

Not much happened here today. Sue booked our place in Taupo for tomorrow night and let  Graeme and Robyn know we wouldn’t be coming on Friday — we’ll do the hike, stay in Taupo, then checkin to our apartment in Napier on Saturday. We didn’t go for a long walk either (and not ONLY because my mother thinks it is making Sue look old and tired!) Instead I worked on the computer, Sue read. We went into Napier around 1pm and ate at McDonalds. Then we saw two beautiful Hollywood movie stars waste their time (and ours) in a poor script called “Passengers”. After the movie we picked up sandwich fixings and went back to our place. Sue made sandwiches for the hike tomorrow, and we had a “practice session” with sandwiches for supper — outside at the little table and chairs next to the driveway! Some serious packing and repacking for tomorrow’s hike — will it rain? hail? Are we taking too much along? Too little? We’ll find out soon. Then Sue tried to go to sleep while I worked on the computer until after 11:00. Finally, lights out.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

What a day! Sue and I both had restless nights, probably in part because we were worried about missing the alarm in the morning. But at 5:20 Sue’s alarm woke us. And by 6am we’d packed up and were in the car, heading out of Taradale, back to Taupo.

It was early Friday morning, but traffic was light. We were going to stop for a coffee early on but decided we could wait 2 hours and get our coffee in Taupo. So the winding, hilly drive to Taupo was going just fine. Then, at around 6:50, traffic came to a standstill. We were stuck. What was the problem? Well, after half an hour or more of sitting there waiting, a couple of truck drivers who had walked on ahead were returning with news: There’s been a crash up ahead. Traffic is now backed up because a big semi-trail ‘jack-knifed’ and they need to clean that up. It’ll be another 20 minutes for sure. Whoa! there goes all the good time I’d made so far! And then, once we started moving again, and we DID pass the dented up semi trailers, it was slow-going. Not only were there a couple of miles of trucks lined up in the oncoming lane, waiting for their turn to pass the accident scene, but we were now behind a number of big logging ‘double-trailer’ rigs chugging their slow way up and around the mountain curves. And so once again, I was driving like an Indy car racer, waiting for each chance to pass one more truck, watching the oncoming lane for traffic. The delay had set us back an hour, and although I made back a bit of time once I’d passed everyone and was speeding into Taupo, we had to text Brian and Val and let them know we’d be at least 15 minutes late for our 9 o’clock rendezvous at the car park. 

We made a very quick pit stop in Taupo, got a coffee and muffin and bathroom break, and then continued the final 45 minutes to the car park at the end of the hike route. The Funks were there, waiting. They put a couple of their humungous suitcases into our parked car, and the five of us drove in their rented jeep, another half an hour to the car park at the beginning of the hike. 

The start of the hike. Is that really where we are going?

After parking the car and putting on SOME of the gear we’d packed into our backpacks, we set off on the hike. The total track length is 19.4 km one way. There are shuttle buses available to take hikers back from the finish to the car park where they started, but we hadn’t booked a shuttle, and we wouldn’t need one. Brian had volunteered to walk with us for the first hour or two, then turn around and drive the jeep back to where we’d parked our car at the the end point. 

We picked a good day for the hike — the next few days looked pretty rough!

The crossing is a trek over steep volcanic terrain. This is not a casual stroll in the park. The suggested time for the walk is 5.5 to 8 hours. We would do it in just over 6. The forecast was for cloudy skies, a few showers, possible hail in the afternoon. We were warned to be prepared for any and all types of weather conditions. We were lucky to have the kind of day that we had — the weather for the day before and for the days following our hike looked HORRIBLE! It was cool and drizzling lightly as we set off. It didn’t take long for us to warm up and take off a layer. 

The first hour or so the track climbs a gentle gradient alongside a stream and around the edges of old lava flows, until it reaches Soda Springs at the top of the Mangatepopo Valley. Along the way we met one old character who was dressed a bit like Gandalf (from the Lord of the Rings tales). At Soda Springs Brian said goodbye. He took a break, met a few more interesting trekkers, and then turned back to the car park.

 

We continued our climb, gaining another 340m. Quite a good portion of the walk was on steps that had been built to make the climb safer and easier. But what a lot of steps we climbed! After a fairly steep section, we crossed over two lava flows from eruptions in 1870 and 1975 — and because of the rain, we had to navigate around the path which had become a series of shallow red muddy puddles. After about 2 hours of trekking we arrived at the South Crater.

It took nearly another hour to climb from the top of the South Crater to Red Crater (1886m), the highest point on the Tongariro Crossing. As we walked up the ridge we could smell sulphur — this crater is still active. The red colour is from the oxidation of iron in the lava rock. Up here there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, and the cold wind was howling. We were glad to have our rain jackets and hoods on for this part of the hike. (And this was a GOOD day!) The mix of snow, sand, mud, and wet rocks made parts of the trek quite slippery and tricky. In fact, there were chains and cables for climbers to pull themselves up for the steepest part of this section.

The weather was quite cold and the wind was biting cold. But the views were spectacular! And if the mist and clouds obscured the scenery, you only had to keep climbing for another minute or two, and when you looked up, the mist was gone and everything was visible again.

Now the steepest uphill climbs were behind us. But that didn’t mean that what was left was easy! No, descending on some of the steep, slippery downhills was just as hard as climbing had been.

It took us about 20 minutes to come down from Red Crater to the Emerald Lakes. The steep descent on loose scree terrain was especially tough for Sue, and I had to hold her arm and keep reassuring her that we would NOT slide all the way down into the beautiful (but steaming and stinking of sulphur) green lakes below us.

And then we were on the ‘home stretch’! Still 2.5 to 3.5 hours to go, but now the walk was mostly a gentle downhill, with a few climbs just to keep your blood pumping. There was a well-maintained path leading us through forest and twisting back and forth alongside the mountain. About halfway down this section there was the first ‘official’ washroom since the Soda Springs stop — and there were about a hundred trekkers lined up for it! We hurried on by. 

The final hour and a half seemed to take forever. We were tired. Sue’s one knee was making climbing down steps difficult. The terrain (and the weather) had changed considerably. Now we were walking through a lush green forest. We could hear the mountain streams rushing down somewhere beside us, and the afternoon sun shone through the leaves above us. And the trail kept twisting and turning. We could see the long narrow road that led from the highway to the car park LONG before we reached it. For the final 15 minutes of the walk it seemed that Sue and I had lost our way — Scott and Val were way ahead of us, and now there we say hardly any hikers. And we should be there already! Maybe around the next bend. Nope. Maybe just over the next little climb and then down the steps. No. 

We finally emerged at the car park. Brian was there, offering us a celebratory drink from the jugs of craft beer and cider he’d bought for the occasion. It was good to get our shoes off. Sue and a small blister on one of her toes, but mostly we were in good shape. 

What a great day for a hike! What a sense of accomplishment. What a treat to share and celebrate the experience with good friends.

We got into our car and drove back up to Taupo, about 45 minutes away. We’d booked a B&B there as had the Funks. After checking in and showering and changing Sue and I took a short walk up to the Funks B&B where we had a little ‘happy hour’. Then we called a shuttle van to take the five of us into town to a restaurant.

We enjoyed a final supper together with the Funks at Dixie’s Restaurant on the main waterfront in Taupo. We’ve had a very good time traveling with the Funks on and off for the last couple of weeks. They will now head north, all the way up to the 90 Mile Beach at the northern tip of New Zealand, before coming back down to Cambridge where they will drop Scott off at the Capernwray Bible School. Brian and Val are flying home at the end of January. We will still have another two months to enjoy New Zealand.

We said goodnight and goodbye when the taxi dropped us off at our respective B&Bs. Although our place was NOT one of our better bookings, we slept VERY well this night. We’d earned the rest!

Inauguration Day

We woke up after a very good night’s sleep. Since our B&B didn’t seem to include the second ‘B’, we quickly packed up and drove into town to look for breakfast. We found a string of busy cafes and restaurants, picked one, ordered eggs, toast, and coffee and enjoyed a leisurely morning.

After breakfast we went to a gas station and filled up the car. Then to the next door grocery store to stock up on some things we would need now that we’re “settling down” for a few weeks. And then back on the road, back to our new apartment in Napier.

When we arrived the Dickeys were not there. But we’d had an email from them earlier in the morning — telling us where the key was and to just ‘move in’ and make ourselves at home. And that’s what we did.

I parked the car and started to unload. The apartment had had a serious makeover since the last time we saw it. All spic and span. Nice furniture on the front patio, new bedding, new coffee press, everything we might need. So we did what we do best: we clean up and get organized. Sue and I were both VERY happy about what we’ve found here.

After everything was in its place Sue made a light snack for us and we sat down for a little happy hour. I was just finished selecting and sorting photos from yesterday’s trek in Tangariro when Graeme came by. He’d just come back from a 50km bike ride, the return trip against a significant wind. But he seemed happy to see us and sat down for a visit. Not long after his wife Robyn appeared — she’d just come back from an all-day golf tournament where she’d lost on the 4th ‘overtime’ hole. She too wanted to hear all about our hike. And both of them wanted to know if there was anything the apartment would need. Well, what about the TV? In their morning email they’d said that they would need to replace the TV, and after checking it out, I’d come to the same conclusion. In fact, I was hoping they’d replace it since it didn’t have an HDMI jack to hook up my AppleTV to. But no, Graeme actually got it going and it looks okay. No, we won’t be watching Netflix on it, but it does get quite a few channels, possibly even the NFL games. And we can watch CBC and Netflix on my computer. 

After the Dickeys left Sue made supper: she’d bought a roasted chicken and some nice fresh bread. We each had a corn on the cob to go with that. Great.

After supper we watched the CBC National News on my computer. As good as everything seems to have been going for us, things in America don’t look to be doing the same. Today was Donald Trump’s inauguration. Yikes! I wonder how long that presidency will last. I predict it will be over by this time next year. I just hope he hasn’t wrecked the world, never mind the United States when all is said and done.

By 10:30 it was ‘lights out’. 

Windy Sunday in Napier

We slept in until almost 9am. Great bed. Great (brand new) bedding. It feels good to be “settled” for the next few weeks. 

The kiwis LOVE to camp! And they’ll convert just about any vehicle at all into a ‘camper van’.

Sue made eggs for breakfast. We spent most of the day relaxing and catching up with family and friends. We Facetimed and Skyped. And emailed and texted. And sat around and enjoyed the day. It was very windy outside. It rained (and thundered) a bit at night, and was still gray and drizzling when we got up. But soon after breakfast the sun came out. And it got warm, up to 27 degrees the weather app said. Sue and I went for a walk along the beach boardwalk, but it was MUCH too windy for that to be any fun. Our host, Graeme was planning on going on a major road cycle ride today, but not in this wind. And his wife Robyn was playing golf in a tournament, and when she dropped by at around 5pm she said they’d had all kinds of weather on the course — rain, cold, hot sun, and wind. 

We were planning on going out for a movie at 6 but when we got to the theatre the movie was sold out. So instead we went across the road to the big supermarket and bought about twice the number of items on our grocery list. We came home, Sue made supper. Sue read and I computed for a while. Then we turned on the TV until it was time for bed.

Schadenfreude

It’s Monday morning here. It’s Sunday afternoon at home. It’s the day when the AFC and NFC championships are decided. The teams that win today go to the Super Bowl. 

The New York Giants are not in the Super Bowl. The Minnesota Vikings are not in the Super Bowl. 

We had breakfast in front of our TV today. I ate my morning toast and bowl of fruit (kiwi, nectarines, bananas) and watched the Atlanta Falcons beat the Green Bay Packers. I’m not cheering for the Falcons, but I’m sure not cheering for the team that beat my New York Giants. So when the Falcons began the game by pouring it on, and never let up, and taught the Packers a thing or two about good hard football, and even those desperate Hail Marys by Aaron Rodgers weren’t working for the Pack — well, I couldn’t help it. I know it’s not that good for me to find joy in another’s misfortune. But it DID ease some of the pain left over from the Giants’ loss. Schadenfreude.

Not quite so lucky in the next game: by the time we had eaten our sandwiches for lunch, the Patriots had more or less sewn up another win. Not the outcome I was hoping for, but not unexpected. Let’s hope the Falcons play like they did today in two weeks, in the 51st Super Bowl.

Whew! well, that’s how we frittered away a cloudy, but warm and calm day in Napier. Sue did two loads of laundry. Read quite a bit. I worked on a computer project in between football plays. 

In the evening we went out for a short walk in the neighbourhood. Ordered some ‘take away’ from the Thai restaurant and walked around the harbour until it was ready to be picked up. We ate on our patio.

After supper Sue watched a bit of TV and I continued my computer work. By 10 Sue was asleep while I was watching YouTube videos of Bill Maher ranting about Trump.

Cycling and Golfing

After my yogurt and bran flakes and fruit breakfast, I worked on a website until it was mid-morning. Robyn (our host) came around and offered to show me where the ‘extra’ bikes are in the garage. She’s bought a couple of new helmets and we’re free to use them. She gave me a map of all the cycle paths around here — this must be a cyclist’s paradise. You can cycle off-road on wide cement paths for miles and miles and miles! It’s unbelievable! 

So Sue and I put on the new ‘hats’ (at home we call them cycling helmets) and adjusted the seats on the bikes and set out on a bike ride. We went along the waterfront, along the beaches, right up to the big harbour at the corner, then around the point and along “Marine Parade”, the main waterfront road that leads to and past the city centre. All along the route there are facilities provided by the city to make life along the bike paths interesting. Lots of parks for kids, for walking the dogs, for exercise, for camping, for sitting and watching the boats and the kids, for looking at the ‘art deco’ styles that this city is world-famous for. 

And the cycling paths go EVERYWHERE — and forever. We cycled for an hour until we’d passed the Maraenui Golf Club, where Robyn is a member. We stopped in at the clubhouse to enquire about tee times and twilight rates. Tomorrow after 3pm, 9 holes for twelve bucks. Okay, we’ll try that! We came back along the path, past the ‘Junior Bike Track’, which has been specifically designed for young children to learn basic road safety. It has working traffic lights, stop and give way signs and a roundabout, where children practise their cycling and road safety skills. Cool! And skateboard and mountain-bike parks — lots of them! And they’re building more. And they are getting a LOT of use! Young people, parents, grandparents — everyone is out and about and ‘ACTIVE’! (or ‘ECK-TIV’, as they pronounce it here in ‘kiwi’ talk.)

WORK, WORK, WORK!

Sue made lunch. After lunch it was time to do some ‘Saturday cleaning’. (It’s not Saturday, but Sue says with such a small apartment it gets dirty quicker — and we DO have the windows and doors open most of the day, no screens, close to the beach, and big wind for the past few days. I (finally) took our hiking boots and runners and washed them in the big laundry tub in the garage — they were still coated with a layer of brown mud from the lava we walked through on our big hike. Then I went back to my computer project.


At the end of the ninth hole at the Napier Golf Course.

Just before 3pm we headed out to the Napier Golf Course. A quick 9 holes before supper. The sun was warm, no wind today, and I was carrying my clubs. Nine holes is enough for this afternoon. We both played quite well until the ninth hole. I think we both shot 10 or more on the last par 5. Oh well, we’ll try to do better tomorrow.

We stopped at our local grocery store on the way home for a bottle of wine to go with leftover Thai food from yesterday. Back at the apartment we enjoyed a little happy hour on the patio before Sue warmed up the curry and rice dishes. 

After supper we texted back and forth with the Funks — they are up in the northern part of the North Island. Then we watched a bit of ‘local’ news on TV and surfed the channels for a while before we called it a night.