New Zealand

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.

Golfing at Hawkes Bay

Sue read, I worked on my computer all morning. After lunch Sue suggested we go for a ride and ‘explore’ Hawkes Bay. Okay, but we had sort of decided to golf at Maraenui Golf Club, a course quite near our place. They have a ‘twilight special’ on Wednesdays. Well, we can go for a drive and then check out the golf course on our way back. Good.

We drove out to Hawkes Bay, a 30-minute drive from here. The scenery along the way was amazing — rolling hills, lots of orchards and vineyards. A big lumberyard (that must be where all those logging trucks are heading).

We first went to the Hawkes Bay Golf Course, just to see what it might be like and what the green fees might be there. The parking lot had a few cars in it. Not very busy. It’s hard to see what the course is like from the parking lot. We went in to talk to the office. Well, today is our lucky day — $10 for nine holes and you enter to win prizes that will be awarded at 7:00 tonight. Hmmm.. we don’t really want to ‘compete’. Can we just golf? Sure! $10.

It was just before 3pm but the lady told us to just go tee off at hole #1. Oh, Sue wondered if they had any ‘trundlers’ available. That’s what they call the push carts here in New Zealand, and at some of the courses they have a row of them just outside the clubhouse, for those who didn’t bring their own. And they had some here too, although they were $5. And a DELUXE trundler at that! With a seat on it so Sue could sit while I go look for my ball in among the trees!

And off we were — almost alone on the course, having a great time. The cloudy sky kept the hot sun at bay. And the big wind Sue had read about never materialized. Our game was nothing to write home about (so I won’t), but we were quite impressed with the course. Friendly, very well maintained, the best greens we’ve played on since Steinbach in August. And no pressure from golfers behind us.

After nine holes we saw quite a few men (members of the club) on the practice green, getting ready for the big competition and the prizes that followed. We bought another nine holes for $10 and continued on the back nine. Both of our games improved considerably on the back nine. The course was long, par 73, and fairly challenging, but VERY much fun. We’ll definitely come back here — maybe more than once a week.

We drove home after golf and had happy hour. Then we went out for a short walk across the road from our place — to a ‘chicken and chips’ restaurant on the beach. We ordered half a barbecued chicken and some deep fried bananas and pineapples. We sat at a table on the beach and watched the sailboats on the water, the children on the beach, and the sun setting over Napier, while we ate our supper. It’s pretty nice here!

We went back to our apartment, watched a Frontline episode on my computer. And we were in bed before eleven. Just another day in paradise.

One month down, two to go

We left home on Christmas morning. We’ve been gone for a month.

We lazed around much of the day. In the morning were going to go for a 2 hour bike ride, up to Bay View and back. I guess I missed a turn somewhere along the cycling path — and we ended up heading DOWN to Taradale. When we got to the big roundabout the path ended. Now what? Lots of traffic going in and out of the roundabout — that made it a bit tricky for cyclists to enter and exit. My sense of direction said the coast was ‘that-a-way’, and my google maps on the phone said the same. So we ended up cycling on the side of a busy highway. Hmmm… we’re not used to that! Especially after a couple of big double-trailer logging trucks came whipping by! As I was trying to speed up in order to get to where the shoulder of the road widened a bit, I noticed my bike was taking off on me! It was getting harder and harder to reach the handlebars. What? and then ‘clankity-clank’! My bike seat disappeared and I was hanging onto the handlebars with my ass hanging precariously over the spinning rear wheel. The bikes are a size too small and I’d adjusted the seat height as high as I could on the seat post — well, maybe a little too high — and now I had to turn around on that crazy highway and go back and pick up my seat. Hey, if we want to risk life and limb on a bike we can cycle on the highways around Steinbach! Let’s get outta here. 

After lunch we sat around in the apartment. We had a long FaceTime with the kids — Tim is checking in on our house, Alex is hosting after school parties with colleagues, and Max has taken up sketching and is drawing pictures for me. Then we had another long FaceTime with Ed and Val — caught up on all the latest goings-on at SMC. 

Sue made denver sandwiches for our early supper. We had tickets to the 6 o’clock movie in town. We hurried into town and made a quick pit-stop at a big department store to buy a new frying pan — Sue wasn’t altogether pleased with the one in our apartment. As it turned out we got to the theatre 15 minutes before showtime, enough time to go online and check out the reviews on our new frying pan. Oh, oh. Not very good. Apparently the pan warps easily — and that’s the same problem we have with our old one! 

We saw the movie “Hidden Figures” and both rated it 5 stars. As we were sitting there watching an ‘American’ movie about intelligent black women who help the United States ‘win’ the space race in spite of discrimination, segregation, and sexism, for a moment I forgot that we are half the world away from the US. And I remember feeling the same thing last winter when we went to watch quite a few movies in Cape Town. American movies are shown all over the world — in South America, in Asia, in Europe. They are a powerful force in creating values and shaping cultures, for good and for bad. Hollywood and the power of satellite television helped bring down the Soviet Union and break down the Berlin wall. The government couldn’t hide the disparity between East and West from the people. Dictators and closed societies can’t win against the will of the people. Walls and protectionist policies have no chance against the ‘free trade’ of ideas. No wonder Trump is so afraid of Hollywood and the media.

After the movie we still had time to hurry back to the store and return our new frying pan. Back at the apartment we sat down and watched the CBC National on my computer. By shortly after ten we were in bed.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Gannets

It’s been a week since we trekked (or ‘tramped’, as they say in New Zealand) the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s about time for another long hike.

Gannets can dive from a height of 30 metres, achieving speeds of 100kph as they strike the water.

We’ve been told that it’s worthwhile for us to go see the Gannet Colony out at Cape Kidnappers, not far from us here in Napier. We didn’t actually know what ‘Gannets’ were, but when I looked it up I discovered that they are a very interesting bird unique to this part of the world. Among other characteristics, the gannets belong to the booby family. We’d seen ‘blue-footed boobies’ when we went to the Galapagos Islands years ago — and I remember how they can dive-bomb deep into the ocean to catch fish. Well, the boobies here in New Zealand don’t have blue feet — they are large white birds with yellowish heads and black-tipped wings — but hey, what’s not to like about another 20km hike in search of ‘boobies’?

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course

(Well, actually I’d be way more excited about seeing one of the world’s great golf courses up on top of the cliffs at Cape Kidnappers, but so far I haven’t convinced Sue that it’s worth the $480 it costs to hook and slice a bunch of golf balls into the ocean from up there!)

There are a couple of ways to go see the gannets at Cape Kidnappers. You can have a van pick you up and take you to one of the two colonies where you can get up close and personal with the birds and someone will tell you all about them ($80/person). Or you can join a tractor and trailer tour where guides take you along the beach ($44/person). Or you can skip the morning workout at the gym and pack a lunch and WALK along the beach to see the birds (FREE). Of course we picked option three.

The trick is to make sure you know when high and low tides are, in order to keep the ‘swimming in the big waves of the ocean’ part to a minimum. Low tide today is at 12:15. We drove out to the parking lot at the Clifton Cafe, the starting point for our hike, at 9:30. The tractors and trailers were just lining up. One trailer skipped the line-up and headed straight for a large group of Japanese tourists. They must have ordered the exclusive ‘premium’ package. Wearing their ‘dust masks’ and clutching their big gold purses, they hopped aboard the ‘hay-rack’, popped open their sun umbrellas, and started off on their drive along the beach about 20 minutes ahead of the ‘regular’ caravan. Sue bought a bottle of water to go with our sandwiches, and we set off on our walk. It was ten o’clock. We needed to be back by 4, before the incoming tide would cover the beach.

The sign above the little shack on the beach reads ‘Topless Bathing Permited’

It was (another) gorgeous day. We met a few walkers on the way, but really it was a beautiful quiet walk along the beach for us. Shorts and sandals. Mostly sand, but occasionally we had to climb over a rocky outcropping. Big cliffs towering up beside us (somewhere way up there some rich Japanese men are enjoying a golf game while their wives and children are bouncing along on a hayride far below!)

And sure enough, we were only a few miles along the trip when the first of 3 tractor/trailers putted up behind us and passed us. We’d pass THEM a while later, when they stopped so the three drivers/guides would have to take their pick axes and ‘chop’ up some big boulders that had washed ashore and made the way impassable.

The tractor tour came upon the first colony of gannets at a point about 7kms into our walk — a couple of big stony ‘islands’ COVERED with the white birds. (Even more boobies than you’d ever see at the topless pool in Veradero, Cuba!) We got quite close to the birds and even saw nests with the ‘fuzzy’ baby gannets still sitting next to their mothers. We snapped a bunch of photos. We were just heading around the point when we heard the tractors coming up behind us again. We let them pass. They went ahead for a short distance, then parked as a group at a National Park entrance that led up to a second colony of gannets. That’s as far as the tractor tour would go.



But not the Nikkel tour! No, we don’t turn around until we’ve gone at least TEN kilometres! We continued on, heading to the next point out in the distance. The last three kilometres were a little trickier than what we’d done so far. Now we had to clamber over BIG rocks, sometimes slippery rocks, and jump from one to the next. Sue had had enough — her knee was hurting and she decided to sit and rest while I went the last bit to the point. When I got there it really was as far as I could go — I looked down from the top of the ledge I was on and spotted a big fat seal lying on the rock below, warming up in the hot noonday sun. I yelled and clapped my hands, trying to convince him to put on a show for the camera but he was all out of tricks. I turned around and headed back to join Sue for lunch: sandwiches and water — ‘on the rocks’. And then it was time to retrace our steps — not that we really could; the waves had erased them from the sand.

We passed the tractor tour — they were still parked at the Park entrance. The last mile or two we were hot and tired and thirsty and the wet sand in my sandal had created a blister on one of my feet. We got back to the parking lot just as the tractors caught up to us.

On the short drive home we passed through the small village of Clive and stopped for an ice cream cone. As we sat at a table in the cafe patio under the shade of overhead grape vines, the nice lady at the counter sent us each a plate with freshly-baked scones with dates and butter — no charge. What a treat!

Back at the ranch, we showered and had a drink. Sue had emailed our hosts, inviting them to join us for happy hour. Instead, Graeme invited us to come over and sit at THEIR table. We had a lovely visit. At around 7pm Graeme and Robyn suggest we join them for dinner. Or, how about we go out for pizza? (It IS Friday, after all.) So we all went across the road to the Italian pizza restaurant and had supper out on the deck, watching the people on the beach and the fancy luxury and old restored cars ‘cruising the drag’.

Back at Graeme’s we had double espresso coffees and dark chocolate before saying goodnight and heading back to our apartment for the night. Tired and content, we’d earned a good night’s rest.

Feast or Famine

One day I spend all evening getting photos of the days events off my phone. The next day I don’t have a single photo. It’s all or nothing with me. 

Today we did nothing. Sue slept in after starting late (or early, depending on how you look at it; too much strong coffee yesterday evening!). We had breakfast, then lunch, without leaving the apartment. I went out to the beach to watch Graeme sailing, but could only see one sailboat out there. 

Before supper we went for a walk. We stopped to pick up a few supplies and then headed right back to our place. We had G&Ts for the first time in a long time. Sue made supper. In the evening we watched a bit of news on my computer. Early to bed.

To market, to market…

After our morning coffee and yogurt we got into our car and headed down to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market in Hastings, about half an hour south of our place. Graeme and Robyn had told us about it. We are not really “farmers’ market” kind of people, but hey, we’re tourists and we’ve got to check out these kinds of things. We found the market easily enough. Lots of cars already on the big ‘fair grounds’ parking lot. A fiddler sitting at the entrance, fiddling away. Lots of people. Lots of booths. Lots of ‘organic’ and ‘fresh’ and ‘homegrown’. Lots of free samples. More music inside. Hey, it’s like a big fair! And the samples are pretty good. And the sun is shining and there’s lots of big shade trees and it’s kind of fun here.

So we bought bread and some cheese and freshly roasted coffee and avocados to take home. And I had a big bacon sandwich and Sue had a danish for lunch. And then we left.

We drove down to Havelock North, an ‘artsy’ little town not far from the Hawke’s Bay Market. We parked the car and went for a little walk, looking at all the shops on the main street. I was sort of looking for a place to buy flip-flops because the blisters on my foot were bugging me when I wore the same sandals that caused them in the first place. We didn’t find sandals, but we found a very nice ‘New World’ grocery store. Well, Sue would be just as happy to ‘tour’ a grocery store as to tour a farmer’s market. In we went. Good thing Sue had her big grocery list with her. We decided to make this our grocery shop for the week ahead. A hundred-and-twenty dollars later we headed back to our apartment to ‘unpack’.

Graeme and Robyn came by for a short visit. They’d just finished a 70km bike ride and with the 34 degree sunshine, they were wiped! We sat and visited in the shade at our place for a while. Robyn was going to take us golfing at the Maraenui Golf Club where she is a member. But apparently there’d been a big tournament there all day so we wouldn’t go until at least 4:30. No problem. Time for a little Sunday afternoon maedach-schlop.

A little after 4 we decided to go to the course and see if we could get 9 holes for the Sunday afternoon $15 discounted green fee. When we got there there were a LOT of cars on the parking lot. But it looked like the tourney was over and most people were loading the clubs and ‘trundlers’ into their trunks. We paid and headed for the first tee.

My first tee shot went way left, into the trees. Ouch! I was glad Robyn wasn’t along with us — this would have been an embarrassing start. And Sue, who normally would have taken me aside right about now and told me to ‘calm down’, and suggest that I was shooting poorly because I was nervous that everyone was watching me (and there were quite a few other golfers on the tee watching me) and I should just RELAX, didn’t say anything at all. She just walked up to the ladies’ tee box and proceeded to bloop her tee shot about 30 yards ahead. Oh oh. Not a very auspicious start to the golf game.

But we persevered. And after a couple of holes we were away from the pack and playing our usual (not very good) game. And enjoying the scenery. Vineyards surrounding the course, big shady trees, some with red and pink blooms, lots of pine needles in the shade of the massive trees that lined each of the fairways.

We were back at the apartment by 7pm. After the obligatory G&Ts (hey, we have the lemons anyway), Sue peeled the prawns she’d bought earlier and soon had the apartment smelling delicious. Rotini and shrimp in a curry-garlic sauce. (Sue said Ingrid would NOT like this, but Rudy LOVED it!) We ate outside at the little table on our patio. We could hear Robyn laughing her loud unmistakeable marvellous laugh — she and Graeme are doing their usual ‘welcome’ socializing with the B&B guests — today it’s a young American couple who are on their honeymoon here in New Zealand.

Bluff Hill Lookout

Monday today (I know, I know, it’s actually Sunday at home, but here it is Monday). That means it’s “wash day”. So Sue did two loads of laundry after breakfast. We don’t use the dryer here — no, the 27 degree sunshine and a light ocean breeze means that wash on the line dry faster and fresher-smelling than they do in the electric dryer. 

Although we had decided we would “do nothing” today, we put on our walking shoes and dabbed a bit of SPF50 sunscreen on our noses and went for a little ‘tramp’ up the big hill that lies between our apartment here in Ahuriri, a suburb of Napier, and the Napier City Centre. Hey, what would a day in paradise be without working up a little sweat (and appetite) before lunch. Apparently the views of the port from up on Bluff Hill are great. This time of year (we think the summer school holidays ended here this past weekend) there can be several cruise ships at the port, unloading waves of tourists who are whisked by air-conditioned modern coach buses to the Napier beaches a mile or two south. Graeme told us that the second largest cruise ship in the world had been in port this past weekend, dispatching more than 4000 cruisers into our little town. 

We didn’t really know how strenuous the hike would be. It turned out to a fairly easy half hour climb up a couple of small steep roads and then a zig-zagging path with stairs on most of it. And there’s quite a nice park at the top. A parking lot for those who’d rather drive up. A small flower garden and a large compass. And very fine panoramic views of the sea and the port.

We snapped enough photos to warrant another ‘gallery’ for the blog, then tramped back home along the oceanfront walkway. And while the number of double- and triple-trailer logging trucks remains a constant, we noticed quite a change in the number of people on the walk and on the beach. The summer holidays are over. It’s “quieter” here now.

 

I’d have to say the highlight of my day was lunch; actually, the highlight of EVERY day for me is lunch. A big shaved ham and avocado and cheese and mustard sandwich, with just the right number of potato chips (Sue counts them to make sure I have only ‘one portion’), and a tall glass of a cool delicious beverage I must not name. I told Sue today that when I die it better be after lunch or I will feel cheated.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos of highlights from all my favourite Sunday morning TV talk shows. Man, how is it that the “greatest nation on earth” can have so many dumb-ass voters that they elect a narcissistic, rude, billionaire buffoon who says up is down and down is up… And where is that little boy who will alert them to the fact that the emperor has no clothes, and what’s taking him so long?

And Sue read her kindle — today she finished reading “A Japanese Lover” and started her next bookclub book, “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle”.  

At around 4:30 I made us a little snack: apple slices and some crumbles of a nice sharp cheese we bought at the farmers’ market yesterday. While Sue appreciated the gesture, she wasn’t all that impressed by the quantity of time and utensils it took for me to prepare it. Oh well, I guess that’s why she’s the master chef around here. 

Speaking of master chef, we had a lovely salad with our leftover rice and chorizo tonight. And then it was time to set up my little laptop computer and tune in to another episode of “The Crown” on Netflix. Ah, a lazy day in Napier. What could be finer?

 

Another beautiful day, another hike up a mountain

What else is new? The temperature outside was already mid-twenties when we woke up at 8am. Sue did another load of laundry and we had breakfast. We sat under the big ceiling fan and read the internet news on our devices until lunch. And we looked at ‘activity options’ for today. How about we drive down to Havelock North and climb up to Te Mata Peak, from where (Graeme and Robyn tell us) we can see the WHOLE Hawke’s Bay valley. Sure.

By lunch the temperature was 34 degrees. Sue’s iPad said it would stay around that until evening. Might as well go now. We drove south for 30kms to Hastings North. Then headed for the park entrance where there was a small car park. Sue put on her hiking boots and got her hiking pole out of the trunk. And off we were.

There were 5 marked trails for us to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty. We picked the Rongokako Trail (marked with blue markers). It was supposed to be a 5.5km ‘goat trail’ with some ‘steep’ sections that would take us right up to the peak summit, then wind down until it passed through some Big Redwoods (ah, shade!) and back to the car park. (I say ‘supposed to’ — with a few wrong turns near the end we changed it to an 8km trek!)

A panorama of the Hawke’s Bay valley from the top of Te Mata Peak.

After the hike we deserved a cool treat. So we drove down through Havelock North and on to Hastings. Graeme and Robyn had told us about a famous ice cream shop on the main street in Hastings. Not to be missed. We found Rush Munro’s, New Zealand’s oldest ice cream shop, and parked the car. We each ordered a single scoop of the Hokey Pokey flavoured ice cream. (Hokey Pokey is vanilla ice cream with small, solid lumps of honeycomb toffee; it was on our list of typical New Zealand foods that we ‘must’ try). Not bad! The place kind of reminded us of the Bridge Drive-in in Winnipeg — long line-ups of customers, and hard-working young people doing their best to build big beautiful ice cream dishes.

We were hot and thirsty and our feet were tired. Sue found a new little blister on her foot. My big bandaid on my blister wasn’t really doing its job anymore either. We headed home for G&Ts and showers. A bit of reading and looking at our photos and then it was out for dinner.

We went to the Frying Dutchman just down the street and picked up fish ‘n chips. We took them home and ate outside on our patio. It was 7:00 and the evening air was finally cooling things down a bit. Lovely. By 8:30 we were closing our big patio doors and settling in for another evening of “The Crown” on Netflix. 

A Cloudy First Day of February

We had another lazy morning at home. The temperature was supposed to be about 30 degrees, but it was cloudy and a bit windy outside so it really didn’t feel that hot. I was on the computer and Sue was on her iPad until lunch time. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so we ‘booked’ an afternoon matinee at the little Globe theatre across the road from us for tomorrow. We skyped with my parents for a bit. 

In the afternoon we hopped into the car and went for a drive down to Hastings again. What a nice drive, through valleys of orchards and vineyards. We went to the Hawke’s Bay Golf Course and signed in for another 18 holes of golf. At first the lady at the desk said it would be $85 for the round. Really? Is that a ‘twilight’ rate? Well, unless you want to buy a ‘package’. How much is that? A hundred dollars for 5 rounds. Crazy! How does that make any sense? We bought the package!

Once again, we had a great afternoon. The weather conditions were perfect — cloudy, not too hot, and the big mature trees that lined each fairway protected us from the wind so that we had only a light breeze. For a couple of holes we had a few raindrops, but that ended quickly too.

After our round we went back to the clubhouse and bought a couple of draughts and visited with some of the local golfers who were sitting at tables outside under the shade of a couple of big trees. They seem quite pleased to have Canadian tourists enjoying their course. They told us a little about the long weekend coming up — Monday is Waitangi Day, a national holiday here in New Zealand, similar to our Canada Day. On that day back in 1840, the British and the Maori aboriginals signed a treaty that gave the Maori rights to their land and rights as British citizens. The golfers invited us to join them for their annual ‘Ebony and Ivory’ tournament — it would be the ‘English’ versus the ‘Maori’. It was interesting to see friendly banter that went on between some of the ‘white’ and Maori golfers sitting at the table. The relationship between cultures is quite different here compared to that of whites and aboriginals at home.

We drove back to Napier, looking for a place to have supper. We parked in the downtown area and ended up back at the Rose Irish Pub. And just like when we were there with the Funks, it was Quiz Night! Sue and I had supper and played along for 3 of the 6 rounds. We were clearly not going win the $50 bar tab tonight. As we headed back to our car we were treated to a beautiful red sky — what do they say? “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.” Well, the sailors will be very happy tomorrow!

Back at the apartment, I tried to find something better than ‘Home Renovations’ on TV. Sue read. Then we went to bed.

Into every life a little rain must fall…

Woke up and the sun was shining. The forecast was for rain. After breakfast Robyn, our host, stopped by to deliver her super-light camping chairs. Our hosts are leaving for the weekend — they have a wedding to go to on the west coast. They had volunteered that we could use their camping chairs for the outdoor James Taylor concert on Sunday. Robyn demonstrated how to put them together and take them apart again. We visited for a while. And then it started to rain, not hard, and not for very long, but it rained. 

It stayed grey and dreary all day. Warm, but on-and-off sprinkles of rain. A perfect day to stay inside and do nothing. Which is what we did. 

After lunch we put on our rain jackets and walked across the street to the little boutique movie theatre — 45 big soft leather seats and you can order drinks and even pizzas while you watch the movie. You pretty much have to book your tickets in advance; the four films they show per day are usually sold out. We’d booked our tickets yesterday morning. 

So there we sat with about 38 old ladies and 4 or 5 (lucky, or hoping to get that way!) old men. Ah, we fit right in! The movie was “Lion”, nominated for a few awards. And it was quite a tear-jerker, but really very good. 

Mad Max

When we got back home I took my phone out of my pocket (it had been on ‘mute’ for the movie) and noticed we’d missed a FaceTime call from Alex. That explained why I’d heard an annoying phone vibrate about an hour into the movie — some idiot’s phone turned out to be THIS idiot’s phone! Oops. A quick text to Alex — too late — we missed Max who had wanted to ‘scare’ us a bit before going to bed. Maybe we can talk tomorrow. In the meantime Alex had sent us a few photos of Max hamming it up.

Sue made spaghetti and a big salad for supper. We spent most of the evening with me working on the computer and Sue reading. Finally, eyes getting tired from reading and coding, we decided to have a bit of chocolate and watch another episode of “The Crown”.

Friday — and a Long Weekend Ahead!

Okay, EVERY weekend is a long weekend for us, but this weekend is a special weekend for the New Zealanders.

We opened up our big double front doors as soon as we woke up; it was going to be hot today, we could feel it already in the early morning air. Sue was busy working on booking a place for us in the Cook Islands for the last week of March — she’d found a place and booked it, but now realized that we leave here late afternoon and arrive there THE DAY BEFORE WE LEAVE! Oops! And so we actually needed a place for the day before we leave here. And it took a lot of emailing back and forth, cancelling our booking and then re-booking. Anyway, Sue got that done. We didn’t move out of the shade of our place until after lunch. We skyped with the kids — it’s finally a little colder at home so at least they don’t have to negotiate on icy roads for a while. Max seems to be enjoying his swimming lessons — he’s growing up too fast! 

Rudy on the 18th green at Napier Golf Club

Mid-afternoon we drove into Napier city centre and found a print shop so I could print out my James Taylor concert tickets for Sunday night. Then we drove down to the Napier Golf Course; it was 3pm, still quite warm out there. We sign on for 9 holes — and that was enough fun for one afternoon. We golfed the back nine and both played better than earlier this week — but it seems no matter how good a game I have going, invariably at some point I’ll blow it on at least one hole and there goes my score. Oh well, apparently Tiger Woods, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson all missed the cut at Torrey Pines this week, so at least I’m in good company.

After golf we headed back into town and went grocery shopping at the Pak’n Save. Another BIG shopping trip — Sue says we’d BETTER stay at our apartment here for another two weeks just so we can get rid of all our groceries! Filled up the car with gas on the way home.

Sue on our patio for ‘happy hour’.

Whoa! hot and tired and thirsty! We were GOING to go out for supper but by the time we’d had our happy-hour G&Ts and cheese and sausage snack and cooled off on our patio… Well, with all those groceries we just packed away we don’t really need to go out anyway. Not when Sue is just as happy to cook something up!

After supper I built a MASSIVE playlist on my phone and we sat around and drank some New Zealand wine and listened to music and Sue played Scrabble on her iPad while I wrote my journal. Mmmm… it’s good to listen to our music again for a change; cleanses the mind and the soul, and no matter how many close putts we missed today or how much we miss little Max, music heals and makes all things a little better!

Cycle to Crab Farm Winery

Saturday. Bacon and eggs. Hmm… No bacon.☹️ (Ever since that Skype call when my dad said Sue looked like she’d put on a bit of weight, no more bacon!) Another BEE-utiful day here in Napier. No big plans for the day.

At around 11:30 we got the bikes from out of the garage and cycled along the cycling paths out to Bay View, about 8kms north along the coast. Lovely. We ended up at the Crab Farm Winery for our lunch stop. Did we have reservations? No. Okay, you’ll have to take a seat INSIDE the restaurant, and there’s a function (wedding) happening here at 3:30 so you’ll need to be done your lunch by then. No problem. We were a bit warm and quite thirsty and decided to forego the chilled white wine and ordered a ‘jug’ of a craft-brewed pilsner. Had some fancy-schmancy bread dish and shared a platter of fresh prawns and scallops. Excellent.

By 1:30 the wedding party began trickling in — women were mostly dressed in light blue nurses’ and hospital staff uniforms, a few in ‘doctors’ white smocks and stethoscopes, and one as a surgeon who’d just finished a very bloody shift in the operating room! 

We cycled back home, all the while watching a sailboat race that was happening in the bay to our left. Back at the apartment, it didn’t take Sue long to get a snooze in — after all, she’d only managed 8 hours of sleep last night!

Late afternoon we took a drive down our road and up the big hill that overlooks the port and Napier’s city centre. From the lookout on the bluff we watched as two tugboats helped a big ocean freighter manoeuvre next to the dock. It’s quite a steep little drive up the mountain and the roads are VERY narrow. The whole mountain is covered with residential housing, and, surprising to me, a large high school for girls sits at the top. Although we didn’t see very many ‘for sale’ signs and NO homeowners offering us a million bucks to take their property off their hands, Sue kept assuring me that even if we were to see such a sight, there was no way she’d buy a house up there! And even if we COULD afford a home up there, I don’t think our poor little car could take all the pulling on the passenger door’s armrest or the pushing on the passenger side floorboards every time we’d drive up or down on those narrow winding roads!

We got home safely and had our little happy hour. Sue made supper. After supper we eventually queued up a couple of the documentary films on Netflix — and checked off a couple movies on our ‘Oscar nominated films’ list. 

James Taylor Concert in the Vineyard

It’s Sunday here (Saturday back home). Eggs for breakfast for me. Sun shining brightly — Sue did another load of laundry and hung it out on the line to dry while we went for a walk.

We walked down to the Marine Parade, the main street that follows the coastline here in Napier. And while the street is almost always a centre for action, it seemed particularly busy today. Once we got closer we realized the boulevard between the road and the ocean was packed with vendors trying to sell their used books, pots and pans, tools, trinkets, clothes, fresh fruit — it was a giant flea market! We walked through it and then turned around and walked back home again, via the sidewalk along the coast.

After lunch Sue took in the laundry and we wasted a bit of time on that giant crossword puzzle the Winnipeg Free Press puts out every Christmas — Sue had ripped it out of the paper and taken it along, and I found it in the glove box of the car this morning when I went to get the James Taylor concert tickets from the car.

At 4 o’clock we filled up our backpack with the cool lightweight collapsible ‘lawn chairs’ we’d borrowed from Graeme and Robyn, and a few sweaters and light jackets. Then we headed south the 10kms to the Church Road Winery. The tickets said the gates opened at 5 — and we were none too early. We found a parking spot about a kilometre from the winery gates in a residential side street, and walked to the LONG lineup out past the main entry gate. At least the line moved quickly.

Once in we found a place not too far behind the fenced-off ‘premium’ section where there were white chairs set up for the concert. We set up our chairs and then Sue went to check out the food stalls and booths, looking for supper. She came back with a corn dog for me, a big burger for her, and fries to share. As we were sitting in our super-cool camping chairs Sue spotted Graeme and Robyn standing and visiting with some friends, not far from us. We felt a bit strange, sitting there on THEIR chairs, while they were probably having to sit on a blanket on the grass. We got up and went to say hello. They were all friendly, hello, big hug, how was the wedding? oh it was lovely! No! don’t you feel at all bad about those chairs, we’ll be fine. They’d come back from their weekend away at a wedding and driven by the concert venue and stopped to get tickets. Now they had ridden their bikes the 10kms to the concert!

The warm-up band (I forgot their name) were introduced as coming from “Saskatchewan, Ontario”! Whatever that means! The audience was polite. Then the main act, James Taylor and his All-Star Band, came onstage at about 7:30. It was the same band and more-or-less the same show we saw last spring at the MTS Centre. Except it was outdoors, in a beautiful vineyard, with the warm sun setting over the top of a hillside lined with grape vines, and a moon hanging over the hill behind us. The show was very good, and the sound was excellent. J.T. is an old (68-year-old) pro; he’s been singing these songs all his life. He knows what the crowd came to hear, and he gives it to them. He sang all the old favourites, came back for a few encores, and was done by 9:30. We walked the kilometre back to where we’d parked our car.

We drove back to our apartment, had a quick nightcap and watched the CBC National news before going to bed.

Waitangi Day (and a less than ‘super’ Super Bowl)

Happy Waitangi Day, everyone! The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 at Waitangi here in New Zealand by representatives of the British Crown and more than 40 Maori chiefs. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Maori rights to their land, and gave Maori the rights of British subjects. So it’s quite a different history compared to how indigenous people were treated in Australia (shot!) and Canada (moved onto reserves). Also, in the last twenty years or so, the New Zealand government has worked hard to reconcile and pay restitution. And for the most part, that has worked. They paid a LOT of money to the Maori, and gave them a significant share in the ownership of fishing and lumber industries. And consensus is that as far as they are able, they’ve made things right. So, Happy Waitangi Day!

We celebrated by doing very little. Sue went to the local grocery store before lunch. After lunch Graeme came by and we talked about their weekend wedding experiences and also about the concert last night. Graeme was going for a swim, but came right back to tell us that there was another big cruise ship coming into port — if we wanted to see it we should hurry to the beach. We did. And we saw it. It was the “Emerald of the Sea”, a Princess cruise ship. It had 3100 passengers and 1200 crew aboard. It would be in port for 8 hours.

After lunch we were going to go golfing. I wasn’t really all that interested in the Super Bowl game, but my friend Ed sent me a text and assured me that the Falcons were going to win. Well, that MIGHT be worth watching! So, since our tv receiver was acting up, we invited ourselves over to watch it on Graeme and Robyn’s TV. Graeme was lying on the deck reading a book, until he fell asleep. Robyn was off golfing. So Sue and I sat on their couches and watched the game. And it was a very good first half! I was fairly convinced that we could already just bugger off and go golfing — the game was as good as over at halftime. And I wasn’t interested in the country singer who was ‘warming up’ the crowd at halftime. Nor was I all that ‘gaga’ about Lady Gaga. (Little did I know that would be the highlight of the game!) But I guess somehow Belichick and Brady once again figured out a way to deflate a bunch of footballs during halftime — and don’t you know it, they mounted a come back and were able to tie the game and win it in overtime! In the old days, whenever the Canadiens beat the Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup, my dad would say it was all rigged — the TV stations rigged the election game so they could make more money. Well, actually they don’t need a lot of hush-hush money and a cheating quarterback to make the NFL work — all they need to do is suck me into watching a game and cheering for one of the teams on the field — and for sure, without fail, the OTHER team will win! Guaranteed. Every time! What a waste of a lovely afternoon for golf!

At around 5pm some ‘new’ AirBnB-ers checked into the Dickeys’ place. Graeme came around to invite us to join Robyn and him and the new guests, Paul and Rebecca — New Zealanders from Mount Maunganui who are staying here for 3 nights — for a drink on their patio. So we did. And we had a very interesting hour visiting with them. Paul is a retired professional rugby coach, Rebecca just sold a very successful photography business. We talked about golf, New Zealand, Donald Trump, and beaches and bike rides.

Sue made (another) great supper. When we were done we heard the cruise ship sound its horn — time for all the ‘hippos’ (that’s what Paul and Rebecca call the mostly fat old Americans who come of the cruise ships for a whirlwind bus tour of the port of call) to get back on the boat. So we hopped into our car and scooted out behind our place and up the hill to Bluff Lookout. Just in time to see the tugboats pull away from the ship as it sailed out to sea. Off to the next trinket stop along the New Zealand coast.

Back at the apartment, I wrote my journal and Sue read her book. She’s in a hurry to finish it since she picked up two new books from Robyn’s library and they look way more interesting than the book she’s reading now.

And then some more of “The Crown” on Netflix before going to bed.

Today’s news: Sue’s sister Mart (and Virlon) have a new grandson — Atlas James Unruh, born to Sylvia and Thaddaeus. 

100% Chance of Rain

This morning, after breakfast, we decided to take a Walking Tour of Napier. We walked into the town centre, to the Art Deco Centre, and bought our tickets for the 10:00 walk. It was another hot day today — up to 33 degrees, although the sea breeze made it a little more comfortable. Our tour guide was an elderly woman who volunteered for the Art Deco Society. She was quite a good tour guide. She made regular stops along the walk, usually in the shade of a tall building, to give short but informative talks about the history of Napier and what was special about the building we were looking at. 

The walk was about one hour, followed by a 20-minute film about the February 3, 1931 earthquake that destroyed Napier. It’s because of that earthquake that Napier became one of the world’s “newest cities”, since everything had to be rebuilt. And the style at the time was ‘art deco’, so much of the architecture used for the rebuilding was in the art deco style. In fact, in the last number of years, Napier has made ‘art deco’ a big deal — and celebrates it every year, where, for a week, EVERYTHING is art deco. People dress up in period costumes, lots of old restored cars are on the road, theatres put on old plays and show old 1930s movies, lots of Cole Porter tunes and jazz bands, etc. People come from all over New Zealand to celebrate ‘art deco’ week.

Sue and I walked back home after the tour. Sue made lunch and then read for a while. We were hoping to go golfing at the Hastings course this afternoon, but Sue’s iPad called for 100% chance of rain at 3pm, and at 4pm, and at 5pm. Well, why don’t we see if that weatherman knows anything. We packed our rain jackets into the car and left for Hastings at 2:30. 

We were welcomed at the club — they were having their ‘Tuesday Night’ special event. So could we golf 9 holes? Sure, do you want to golf the front nine or the back nine? How about wherever we can get on right away — before it rains? So we started on hole number ten.

Another fine golf course. It’s been so dry for so long here, that ALL the golf courses have very dry fairways. But at the Hastings course they actually had fairly nice mostly-green fairways. And we had a lot of fun golfing — mostly on our own without people ahead or behind, until we caught up with a group on the second last hole. By that time whatever ‘good score’ we’d been aiming for was gone too. But that’s golf. But we were not the only ones who weren’t shooting a hundred percent! It was a good thing we’d not paid too much attention to the weather app. Not a drop of rain. 

It wasn’t until we were almost home when a bit of rain began to fall. We got home, had happy hour out on the deck. A little more rain. We went inside and Sue made supper. Now were getting some real showers. 

After supper we watched the last 2 episodes of “The Crown” on Netflix. And for most of those two hours it was POURING rain outside! The farmers and the golf courses will be happy for this — now all the fairways should be green again.

We watched CBC National and then it was time for bed.

It Rained in Napier Today

After weeks of sunshine and marvellous weather, we had a ‘day off’ today. Sue read and I did some web work on the computer. We’d booked a movie at the little Globe theatre across the street for 4 o’clock. We had a Skype visit with Max and his parents at around 3. Then we put on our long pants and rain jackets and went to see the movie “Jackie”. It was a bit slow-moving and maybe even boring. After the movie Sue and I went for a walk around our area of town and discussed the movie. We also checked out some options for dinner. We weren’t really hungry yet so we decided to go home and get out of the drizzle and warm up and have happy hour first. So that’s what we did. And an hour or so later Sue phoned the Thai restaurant and ordered ‘take-away’. I picked it up and we ate at home. We talked about watching another movie on the computer but I was too into my programming and wanted to work on that. So Sue read some more. At around 9 we watched the news for a bit — nothing new — and then watched a bit of the late night talk shows on my laptop (Colbert and Seth Meyers) before going to bed.

Cool and Wet in Napier

Second day in a row where we stayed indoors for most of the day. Sue read and I kept working away at a website. I drizzled a bit on and off, and the temperature was closer to 18 than to 30. I suggested we go golfing in the afternoon, but Sue was happy reading and didn’t want to get her runners wet. I was okay with staying home too. Finally, for supper, we put on our rain jackets (it didn’t rain anymore) and went looking for that fish market that our host Robyn had recommended for buying fish and seafood. We found it, although it wasn’t easy. Tangaroa Seafoods is tucked away off any main road, at the end of a long industrial road. I wasn’t very optimistic about it until we got there and stepped inside. It was a clean and organized store — a big counter the length of it with fish nicely displayed. Sue asked for some advice in regards to what kind of fish we should buy. After a few questions the lady behind the counter recommended ‘John Dory’ fish. So that’s what we bought. Another stop at the ‘Four Square’ grocery store for a few more things on the way home.

Sue finished reading her book, Three Men in a Raft. She’s borrowed two books from Robyn and wanted to finish them before we leave Napier. Speaking of which, we’ve decided to stay here until next week Sunday. That way we can see some of the ‘Art Deco’ festival events that will be held here next weekend. Plus, we really like it here, we still have golf games to play and movies to see — and we’re hoping the weather on the South Island catches up with the weather we are having (okay, WERE having) here. 

So Sue fried up the fish and made some rice and corn-on-the-cob too. Nice. 

John Dory fish fry

After dinner we carried on as we’d done all day until around 8:30. Then I put away my programming project, Sue put away her iPad Scrabble game, and we made some popcorn and watched “13th”, a full-length (2 hours) documentary that’s on the Oscars list. Quite good, although by the time it was over we were both tired and ready to go to sleep. 

That’s more like it

Sun’s up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day…

Waking up and seeing the sun shining again after a couple of cloudy and rainy days here gets me humming that old Bruce Cockburn song. This morning Robyn (our host) stopped by and we visited for a while. We discussed the “Three Men in a Raft” book that Sue just read — she’s now onto another book she borrowed from Robyn, “Goodbye Sarajevo”. And I’m still working on a web project. 

Right after lunch we got in the car and headed to the Hawke’s Bay golf course. Not very busy there! Sue and I had a very good time — the sun was shining but the temperature was a little cooler than it has been here for the past couple of weeks — just right for short sleeves and shorts, but not too hot. I parred a few holes,  but had a couple of disastrous holes just to keep me humble, while Sue tried to see how many 7’s in a row she could get. We took a couple of photos, but I can’t post them today — not that you want to see more photos of Rudy and Sue golfing, but today’s “action” photos don’t flatter us in the least!

We were done golfing at shortly after 4. Sue noticed on the drive in that the road that our course is on is named Ngatarawa — and her favorite wine here in New Zealand so far has been ‘Stables’, a cabernet-merlot from the Ngatarawa Winery. Ever since Graeme (our host) introduced us to it, we’ve been buying it at the Countdown (big grocery store). Could it be that the winery is so-named because of its location? A quick search on Google Maps told us it was only 3kms from where we were. Worth a visit? Absolutely!

We knew we were in a wine region — the drive down to Hastings, and the vineyards bordering the golf courses told us that. The GPS told us to make a right turn out of the golf course driveway, the opposite direction from how we got here. And sure enough, 2 minutes down the road we found the gate and driveway leading to the Ngatarawa Winery. Could we have a tasting? Sure. So after a lovely afternoon of golf, there we were drinking samples of local wines. Fantastic! The lady pouring for us was kind enough (actually, I think she really enjoyed it) to answer our many questions about the local economy and especially the wine and fruit business. We bought a few bottles and continued our drive back home via the wine route. Wow! We had no idea how many vineyards and wineries and fancy restaurants were so near our place.

We had a little happy hour and then walked across the road to the Milk and Honey restaurant to have our Friday Night pizza. Back at the apartment, we watched the movie “Florence Foster Jenkins” (2 Oscar nominations) on my computer. (Slowly but surely, we are checking the movies off our list.) Then the ‘At Issue’ panel on the CBC National, and to bed.

Saturday afternoon matinee

Saturday morning in Napier. Blue skies, smiling at me; Nothing but blue skies, do I see… Bacon and eggs (sans bacon) for breakfast. We went shopping again this morning — Sue warned me that if I wanted to have sandwiches for lunch we’d need to go shopping first. And since we’ve decided to stay for another week we might as well re-stock the fridge. Sue carved up a roasted chicken to make chicken sandwiches for lunch. We’d just finished lunch when Graeme (our host) stopped by. We sat around and discussed New Zealand politics. Then at around 3pm we had to hurry across the road to the little 48-seat ‘Theaterette’ to see another movie, “Manchester By the Sea”. Sue declared it probably the best movie she’d ever seen. Certainly a strong contender for this year’s Best Picture award. The movie was two-and-a-half hours long, but it was still too early for supper. We went back to our place for happy hour. At around 7pm I went back to the little pizzeria next to the theatre and ordered a 16-pack of assorted dumplings. Kimchi, chicken, prawn, and pork. Sue made a big salad and we had supper. We watched a little Netflix and ate popcorn until it was bedtime.

And this is what we did on Sunday.

After breakfast Sue did a load of laundry. We FaceTimed with Tim who is on his way to a trade show in Toronto for a couple of days. And later, with Alex and Max who are busy with birthday parties and swimming lessons and going to movies all weekend. In the afternoon we drove down to the Napier golf course and golfed nine holes — we thought it might be too warm to do eighteen, but as it turned out it was a very pleasant afternoon. Pleasant, as in temperature — NOT on the scorecard, where we marked scores that would have looked a lot better if it HAD been an 18-hole round. We’ve seen the preview of the movie “The Innocents” a few times in the last few weeks. It’s a movie that takes place in a World War II nunnery, and the tagline in the preview is “Faith is 24 hours of doubt and one minute of hope”. Well, that pretty much describes our golf as well.

When we got back to the apartment we had happy hour and read for a while before supper. (I’m now reading “Three Men in a Raft”, too.) Sue whipped up another beautiful and delicious supper. In the evening I worked on the computer and Sue watched the CBC news and played Scrabble on her iPad.

Windy and hot

No photos (AGAIN!) — another lazy day here. It was hot and windy most of the day. Robyn stopped by in the morning and we ‘made a date’ for supper out tonight. Sue read, while I tried to figure out what went wrong with my web project (I thought I was all done last night, but then looked at it in Safari and it was all screwed up!) Later in the afternoon I continued reading my ‘Three Men on a Raft’ book. Finally, at around 5pm, Robyn and Graeme came by and we sat outside on our patio for happy hour. We had talked about how we really hadn’t seen a lot of sheep in New Zealand so far, and how we were surprised how few restaurants here had lamb on the menu. So Robyn booked the Speights Restaurant for dinner tonight, and had called ahead and ordered 4 lamb shank dinners. Great. The restaurant is on the waterfront around the corner from our place. We sat outside on the second story patio and ate and visited. Although I almost never eat lamb, the meal was excellent. Now that we’ve had it once, I’m sure we’ll order it again before we leave New Zealand. It was a very fun evening — and though I’m sure that we’ll see Robyn and Graeme again during the next few days (we’re staying here until Saturday), it felt a bit like a farewell. We were back home by 10. We watched some of the highlights (low lights?) of a couple of the Sunday morning talk shows and then went to bed.

Cape Kidnappers

I woke up at 6 and got up. Sue slept for a while longer. I could see the lights on in the kitchen — Robyn was up too. She had a 7am golfing date with her sister. I read the news on my computer.

After breakfast we frittered away a few hours. Another nice day here. At around 11 Sue made lunch for us. Then we got in the car and headed out to Cape Kidnappers, a half-hour drive around the coast from here. I had called the exclusive golf course yesterday (one of the top courses in New Zealand) and asked if they would let a ‘couple of Canadian tourists visit the clubhouse and perhaps even check out a few fairways and holes just to get same photos’. The guy on the phone had suggested that today was less busy than Wednesday, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

We got to the entry gate at the bottom of the hill. I buzzed the pro shop. A guy (I thought it sounded like the same guy I talked to yesterday) answered, asked how many of us were in the car, and then opened the electronic gate for us and advised us to ‘drive carefully’. We soon appreciated his suggestion: the narrow paved road wound back and forth, up and down, for the next 8 kilometres. It took us 15-20 minutes to drive the ‘driveway’ up to the exclusive lodge and clubhouse at the top of the hill.

We parked the car and went into the pro shop. The lounge down the hall looked full, busy, lots of well-dressed people sitting at the bar and around coffee tables, eating and drinking. Fancy.

We went into the pro shop and waited until the two people behind the counter were finished dealing with ‘customers’. Then I approached one of them, a girl, and asked if we might ‘take a look around’, maybe go out on one or two of the fairways if they weren’t occupied and maybe take a few photos. Oh no, that is not allowed. I tried again. But the answer was a very clear and firm no. The owner did not permit that; it was part of the ‘exclusivity’ of the course. When Sue asked if maybe we could just have a beer or coffee in the lounge, she got the same answer. Food was part of the golf package, and no, we could not go in there and just buy a beer. (The ‘package’ was $480 per person for a round of golf — and we were not here for that!) We explained that we had called yesterday and had been led to believe otherwise. Even the guy who let us in via the electronic gate knew why we were coming up, and hadn’t said we wouldn’t be allowed to have a look. All in vain. Okay, let’s go.

I DID take a few photos on our way back to the car — but the photos I had come here to get were quite a way out towards the sea; there’d be no way for me to get my own version of one of those classic ‘cover of a golf magazine’ shots from the driveway.

As we drove back down the winding road we ‘shook the dust off our sandals’ and assuaged our frustrations by saying some very nasty things about ‘that useless golf course’. It made us feel a little better.

We put “Hawke’s Bay Golf Club” into our phone’s GPS. Half an hour later we were once again (and maybe for the last time — the forecast is for some rainy days ahead) teeing off at ‘our’ course. And even though we played a couple of the holes twice (and marked down the better of the scores for each), the final scorecard was not something I would want to mark down for posterity in this journal. All I can say is that so far our clubs have managed to withstand some serious ‘ground-pounding’ after dribbling a golf ball a little farther down the fairway and there is a good chance that we’ll come home with the same number of clubs as we came here with. They may not be accurate, but they are strong.

We drove the half-hour drive back to Ahuriri, the little neighbourhood where our apartment is, and stopped at The Frying Dutchman to pick up an order of fish and chips for our supper. We took it back to our place and ate it outside on the patio. Graeme stopped by for a little visit; he wanted to know about our trip up to Cape Kidnappers — and was almost as disappointed as we’d been about how that turned out. We sat and read for about an hour until the sun set and our eyes were too tired to read more.

We watched the CBC National — had to see how our Mr Trudeau did with his first visit to the Donald. Looks like he did okay; most of the people here in New Zealand seem to have a good impression of him. We started another Netflix series but even though it was barely ten o’clock, we turned it off after half an hour — we were just too tired and couldn’t stay awake any longer.

Technical difficulties

Right after breakfast we were visited by the TV installer guy at our gate. He was delivering a new TV which Graeme bought — and we were about to have our TV replaced by Graeme’s old TV. After hooking up and setting up the new TV the guy came to our apartment and hooked up the old TV and digital set top box in our apartment. We hadn’t watched our TV for quite a while — it seemed to only get TV reception intermittently. After the installer left we sat outside and read our books. When at one point I went back in to check on our ‘new’ TV, all I got was “Check your satellite signal”. Hmmm… Graeme won’t like this.

After lunch we went for a walk into town. I’d tried calling Sue’s phone with my phone and vice versa and determined that our phones were not working either. So we took a walk into town, via a ‘new’ route over one of the hills behind our place, to the Spark phone store in downtown Napier. As we walked along the shore we could see a big cruise ship docked at the port. Once we got into downtown we saw how the small town was transformed when it got inundated by thousands of tourists. The streets were filled with buskers and entertainers and ‘painted statue’ people, all there to entertain and get tips from the crowds of cruise passengers. It was hard to walk along the sidewalk because of all the tourists. And the lineups at some of the trinkets and souvenir shops went all around the inside of the store and out the front door.

At the Spark mobile phone store I was hoping that our phone problems would be remedied and we might get an extra few weeks of coverage thrown in for my inconvenience. But first I had to make sure that our phones were NOT working — just in case. So I called Sue — without success. And she phoned me — same result. Good. At least the problem is still there. But when we got to the counter and the Spark guy tried dialling our numbers, our phones worked! What? Apparently I had been using the phone’s address book to dial Sue — and her address card had her suspended Canadian home phone number as the first number listed. So the trick is to delete our old phone numbers from the contact list! I felt a bit foolish for making such a stupid mistake.

We walked around a bit more and then headed back home, this time via the beach and port route. As we passed the port we saw that busses were still taking cruise passengers from the ship into town.

Back at the apartment we FaceTimed with Max and his parents. Then Graeme came by for an after-work drink and to check on the TV. He wasn’t happy to learn that our TV was on the blink again. After a bit of trial and error we discovered that OUR TV worked only when their living room TV was on. When they turned theirs off, ours stopped working. Some more diagnostics and I figured it must be the cable splitter — but by now it was after 5 o’clock and the shop would be closed. So I offered to see if I could ‘fix’ it tomorrow.

We’ve booked a B&B in Wellington for Saturday and Sunday night. That leaves us 3 nights here in Napier. Sue was making supper, using up the stuff we had in our fridge. Her pot of pasta sauce was probably too much for the two of us — so she invited Graeme and Robin to join us. We took our stuff out to their outdoor table and enjoyed a great supper together.

After supper we sat and visited. An English couple is staying in the B&B and after they returned from their dinner out, they joined us for a cup of tea and some visiting. Then, at around 10, we all went to our respective rooms. We had planned to make use of that ‘new’ TV and watch a movie, but by now it was too late and we were too tired. We watched the local news for the first time in a long time, and then went to bed.

Now we can all watch TV

Today I had a project. Graeme and Robyn’s new TV wasn’t working, and their old TV which was now in our room wasn’t working either. And I knew I could fix it. I was convinced that the jumble of cables in the electrical box in the utility room held the answer. It took me a couple of hours, but after quite a bit of trial and error I determined that it was a TV-splitter issue. While at home this would have been an easy fix, here I needed to find a place where I could buy a new splitter and assorted cables and fittings. So after lunch, Sue and I headed into town for that. And the first place we went to turned out to be closed — building for lease! So much for ‘googling’ for an electrical supply store. It took a few more stops before we finally found a shop that had what I was looking for. Back to the apartment. Graeme and Robyn were both gone, so we had the door open between our place and theirs and Sue would holler “It’s working” or “It’s off now” while I tried various configurations in the utility room. I quite enjoyed myself — it felt like I was at home, “fixing something”. And when I finally had THEIR living room TV and OUR TV working fine, I embarked on one more project. There was a TV jack in the Dickies’ bedroom — why not make use of it and hook up the old TV from our apartment? But first I needed to find the correct cable and hook it up to the 3-way splitter I’d bought and installed downstairs. That required yet one more trip into town to pick up some more cabling and connectors.

Project complete, Sue and I were about an hour into watching “Arrival”, yet another Oscar pick for Best Picture, on our ‘new’ TV when Graeme knocked on our door. He’d just come home from work and wanted an update on the TV situation. He was very pleased. I asked him how HIS day at work had gone — he’s been working very hard, and from time-to-time he’s given us little updates on his project. Today he asked us if we’d be interested in visiting his workplace. It had been raining for much of the afternoon, so we got in our car and drove the short drive down to Dickey Boats.

Dickey Boats is a custom-boat company started by Graeme’s son Jason. They build beautiful big aluminium cruising boats. (You can check out what they do on their website.) Graeme has been working hard on the interior of a 65-foot boat built for cruising around the world. The boat needs to be ready to go to the paint booth next Thursday, so he’s been under a lot of pressure to get it done.

 


Above: My photos of boats ‘in progress’ in the factory. Below: Brochure photos of completed boats.

The Dickey Boat company is run by Graeme’s son Jason and his wife Tristan. They have about 60 employees. The boats they make sell for something in the million dollar price range. There were 8 or 9 boats in various states of completion in the factory. Graeme actually retired from his work in a furniture business about 8 years ago, but has been ‘helping out’ his son for the past couple of years as the boat business expanded. It’s grown so fast, so quickly, and they’ve had trouble finding enough qualified employees. They need welders, carpenters, mechanics, draftsmen, upholsterers, etc. Graeme and Robyn have often mentioned to us that their son Jason is working much too hard, too many hours, and they’re a bit worried about that.

When we got back from the factory tour, Robyn was home too. We ‘celebrated’ my success with the TV hookups with a happy hour in their dining room. Then Sue and I went back to our apartment and watched the last hour of the movie we’d started earlier. Let’s just say that neither of us would vote for “Arrival” as Best Picture! Boring! So boring it was no problem falling asleep by ten o’clock.

It rains on our parade

It rained all night and it rained all day. What a shame! People come to Napier from far and wide for the Art Deco Festival which started Wednesday and runs until Sunday night. The hotels and B&Bs are all booked up. Robin and Graeme’s B&B guests booked their room in early October. Tents and booths and displays have been going up on Marine Parade since the beginning of the week. The town has been preparing for this for the last couple of weeks — trimming all the hedges and flowers along the main street, fixing up the roads, making everything just-so. Everyone in town is dressed in their ’30s garb. The streets are busy with lovely old cars. The movie theatres are playing old 1930 films. Today there was supposed to be an annual air show, where old airplanes and biplanes entertain crowds out on Marine Parade, the main street along the beach in Napier. But…

It’s raining cats and dogs in Napier today. And the forecast is for more of the same for most of the weekend. We’re told that it NEVER rains on Art Deco Weekend. So, while the rain is badly needed, THIS is not the weekend for it. When Graeme came home from work he stopped by for a drink and then hurried upstairs to shower and change into his Art Deco clothes. And while Robyn worked a shift at the little movie theatre across the road, Graeme offered to walk with us into town to see the air show. Amazingly, the rain had stopped at around 5:30pm and the sun was making its first appearance of the day in the sky out to the west.

We’d walked about a mile down the walk towards town when we passed Graeme’s brother’s home. That’s when we learned that the air show had been cancelled! It was too bad — but who could have guessed that the rain would stop and the sun come out just in time for the evening events? Graeme was VERY disappointed. We decided to walk back the other way — back past our place and go to the harbour where there would be the ‘official’ opening ceremonies on a big ‘Maori’ ship and a traditional Maori show. But when we got there there was nothing! Cancelled, too. Well, if we’d known that…

What to do? We decided to head back into the town centre. (We certainly were getting our walk in!) When we passed Graeme’s brother’s place he offered to give us a ride into town. The main street, Marine Parade, had been closed to traffic at either end, and there wasn’t any parking available on the side streets. He dropped us off and we would take the bus back later.

A big jazz orchestra was playing at ‘the shell’ — a large outdoor permanent concert stage on the parade. The streets were filled with men in suspenders and bowler hats, women in flapper dresses and fancy feathered hats, even children all dressed up and enjoying the party. According to Graeme, not NEARLY as many people as they usually have, but impressive all the same.


The main street had old cars parked along both sides. Graeme said that many of the cars ‘do the circuit’ — where their proud owners have the cars shipped here from Europe and America just to show them off at these kinds of events.

We watched the big band play as old and young people did the Charleston in the concert shell. Then Robyn showed up, having finished her shift at the theatre, and we all had ice creams and strolled around some of the side streets.

And then it was time to go home. Robyn had brought the car and parked about a mile from the town centre. We drove home and had one last glass of wine with the Dickeys. We’d had a lovely evening. We’ve had a lovely five weeks in Napier. We’ll say goodbye tomorrow and then head down to Wellington for a few days before crossing the channel over to the South Island.

We’re in Wellington

The Dickeys and the NikkelsAll morning Sue cleaned our apartment in Napier. It was raining off and on — too bad for Graeme who was busy on the beach, burying ‘treasure’ for the kids to dig up as part of Napier’s Art Deco Festival. He and Robyn came around in mid-morning and asked their new B&B guests to take a photo of the four of us. 

kids digging for treasureIt was nearly noon when we were all packed up and ready to go. We ate the leftover pizza from last night for a quick lunch. We walked across the road to the beach and had a look at the kids digging in the sand — not many kids there, but at least (for the moment) it wasn’t raining. Then we got into the car, punched the Wellington B&B address into Google, and set off. It was supposed to take 4:15 to get to Wellington. And it was raining for most of the trip.

At around 2 hours into the drive, making pretty good time with not too much other traffic on the road, we stopped at a cafe in a little town and had a coffee. Then drove the rest of the way. We turned off the #2 highway and wound our way up a narrow side street to our B&B on the side of the hill. We checked in. Nice view from the window — we can see the big sports stadium just across the trees, and the port too, with the Interislander Ferry terminal just below us. There was a big Carnival ship in port too. 

Our host told gave us directions to an area about half-an-hour’s walk down the hill from our place where we would find lots of restaurants and pubs. So, after a bit of unpacking, and after we’d booked our Interislander ferry for Monday morning, down into town we went. We took our rain jackets along, but only had some light sprinkles on our way back home at around 8pm. We found a pub in town and ordered a couple of lamb shanks for dinner. They were nearly as good as the ones we had with the Dickeys back in Napier. 

Back in our room, we sat around and used our phones as hotspots so Sue could look for a B&B for Monday night when we cross to the South Island and so I could write and post my journal. Although the B&B write-up advertised free wifi, there was no connection to the internet on their wifi! So, lucky for us, we have tons of data on our phone plans (which will expire at the end of February) so we used that. The other disappointment with our B&B is that the photos showed a lovely big flat-screen TV — but now we find that there is no TV reception! What they DO have is a small library of DVDs for us to watch. Oh well, maybe we’ll go see a movie in town tomorrow (if it rains all day again).

And that’s what we did on Saturday.

A Day in Wellington

Woke up and the sun was shining. There were some darker clouds hanging around, but mostly it was sunny and warm today. One of the first things we did was book a B&B for the next two nights in the town of Nelson, about 2 hours from where the ferry will drop us off tomorrow.

After breakfast (cereal and yogurt) in our B&B we drove our car back down the long narrow street and headed into town. We went right through the town centre and found a rare parking spot right near the Te Papa Museum, one of the top attractions in Wellington. There was a big fruit and vegetable Sunday market on the parking lot, and it seemed to have attracted quite a few shoppers. We left that for later and walked over to the Te Papa Museum. 

At the Te Papa Museum

For being such a major famous attraction, we were surprised to learn that the museum had free general admission. We went in and spent just over an hour looking at some of the exhibits. The included a big display honouring New Zealand’s military efforts in WWI; a section devoted to the unique birds, animals, and sea creatures of New Zealand; a section about earthquakes and volcanoes, and a section on Pre-historic animals in New Zealand. Pretty impressive displays and the exhibits were organized in such a way that it was easy to go through at your own pace.



Walking on the Wellington Waterfront.
After the museum we walked back to the car, and checked out that Sunday Market. Although we were tempted to order lunch from one of the many interesting food vendors, we slowly wound our way along the waterfront behind the museum and listened to buskers and watched other people. 

We finally stopped for our lunch at a craft brew pub right on the harbour. We met a couple from Seattle who were just on their way UP to the north island after spending a number of weeks hiking and kayaking and exploring the south island. 

We meandered around a bit and then got back into the car and drove to the other end of the downtown area. Parked the car and went to see a movie, “Moonlight”. We thought it was okay, but not as good as “Manchester by the Sea”. We’ve only got one more ‘Best Picture’ movie to see and then we’ll be all set to cheer on the Oscars.

City to Sea Bridge

After the movie we went for a long walk down Cuba Street, all the way down to the waterfront area. We walked over the famous “City to Sea Bridge” with its wooden sculptures adorning the top. 

We found our way back to the car and headed for home. We made a pit stop for another bottle of wine at a grocery store along the way. We sat around in our room, reading the Fodor’s travel guide chapters about the South Island. 

At around 7pm we walked back to the area where we went yesterday for supper — about a half hour walk one way — and ended up at an Indian restaurant where we ordered a couple of  ‘extra spicy’ dishes. It was nearly dark when we walked back up the hill to our B&B.

We heard the ferry blast a couple of warnings before setting sail for the South Island. Tomorrow we’ll need to get up early enough to be packed and at the Ferry Terminal before 8am.

Nelson, Day 1

We woke up at around 6am, even before our 6:30 alarm. Sue made sandwiches and got busy packing. Rudy turned over a few more times in bed and then doddled around until it was time to leave. We were supposed to be at the ferry terminal at 8 o’clock, an hour before departure. We did that. And drove onto the ferry and had nearly front-row seats in the ferry before it dutifully departed at 9 o’clock. Sue read and played scrabble for the 3.5 hour ride. I snoozed a bit more and then listened to some itunes and walked around the boat a bit. We’d been warned about how little fun it is to be on the open seas in rough weather, but today’s crossing was smooth as glass.

We drove off the ferry into Picton, the first town on the South Island right at 12:30. From there it was a pleasant (although much to ‘curvy’ for Sue over the mountain pass) 2-hour drive to Nelson. We found our AirBnB place no problem. The sun was shining and it was quite warm — too warm for jeans. We introduced ourselves to Jon and Sarah, our hosts for the next 2 nights, and checked in.

Sue and I went for a walk around the town centre for at least an hour, checking out possible restaurants for tonight’s supper. We eventually found our way back home and got into the car and drove up to the Waahi Taakaro Golf Course, about 10-15 minutes drive from our place. It was time for ‘twilight’ golf, so for $18 each Sue and I golfed a very pleasant 9 holes. Lots of elevations and much lusher and greener than any of the previous golf courses. Of course, you can’t have everything — so we had some aggravations from some tiny sand flies on the course — we’d been warned to expect them on the south island, but these buggers weren’t too bad. It was quite a warm afternoon so we were thankful for the big shady trees that lined the fairways — and made it manageable to golf here.

After golf we drove back to our place and had a bit of a refresher. After showers we headed back into town and then down to the waterfront to the Boat Shed Cafe, a place our host Jon had recommended. We were very luck to get a table without reservations. We ordered the green-lipped mussels (Nelson is famous for these) and Salmon Carpaccio. A fine ‘New Zealand’ taste experience.

After dinner we drove back home and settled into our (warm) room, with a bit of ‘internetting’ and taking care of business, etc, before calling it a night.

Nelson, Day 2

Woke up and the first thing on the agenda was figuring out WHERE we are going tomorrow and WHERE we are staying tomorrow night. We had pretty much decided that we’d just drive right on down to Christchurch (about 8 hour drive). There were really no places to stay in between and nothing here in Nelson looked all that inviting either.

We had breakfast out on the deck and then Jon and Sarah joined us out there to give us THEIR opinions of the cities down in the southern half of the South Island (not very good!) They gave us quite a few tips and suggestions. The lived in Christchurch until 2 years ago. Christchurch had a major earthquake 6 years ago — one of the biggest insurance claims ever — and their house had some major damage and needed to be rebuilt. When their frustration with the insurance companies dragged on for four years they decided to take a cash settlement and move up to Nelson.

When it was time for lunch we went back to our room and Sue got on the phone to expedia to book us a night in the Ashley Hotel in Greymouth, a small old gold-mining town on the West coast, about 4.5 hours from here. We think we’ll tackle a trip down the West Coast first, then come up on the East side, from Christchurch on back up to Nelson. Well, booking on the phone with expedia is no simple little thing, it turns out. It was WAY past lunch when finally we hung up the phone.

We went to McD’s for lunch — Sue had her muffin and cappuccino and I had cheeseburger and fries. We sat there and discussed things a bit. Then we got in the car and went to the i-Site Tourist Info place to ask about possibilities for long-term (1 or 2 weeks) stays in the region. Sorry, but all the accommodations are booked — it would be hard to find anything that is remotely like what we think we’re looking for.

Next we drove a few miles out of town to a ‘property management’ company, hoping that perhaps they might have something for us. (We’d been given the recommendation by Chris and Angela, B&B hosts where we stayed in Rotorua quite a few weeks ago.) But the address for the ‘office’ led us to what looked to be a residential home up in the hills behind the city of Nelson. Not going there.

It was around 3pm when we drove along the coast back the other way and found the Nelson Golf Course. It wasn’t quite time for the 4 o’clock “twilight rates” to kick in, so we went next door to the new Motel complex to enquire about long term rates. They were already booked for many of our dates, but we DID manage to put something on hold for us should we be back in this part of the country by the beginning of March.

Then we got out our clubs and walked the links-style golf course that is between the sea and a small airport for 18 holes of golf. Very much fun. Sue enjoyed it much more than yesterday’s course because the sea breeze made it more comfortable in the hot sun, and because there were no sand flies to bug us on this course, and because she managed to make at least three longer-than-20-yard (oops, that should be 20-foot!) putts in the first nine holes! THAT is some good golf!

It was 7:30 by the time we finished golfing. We went back into the town of Nelson and found a ‘Mexican’-style restaurant. Very good food, very good service, lots of people eating here. Actually, many of the ‘ethnic’ restaurants on this street were quite busy on this Tuesday night. It’s a nice little town; if it wasn’t so booked up we’d probably be happy to stay here for a couple of weeks.

Back at our B&B, Jon and Sarah were sitting in front of one of their big TV screens when we got home just before 9. They greeted us, but soon headed off to bed. Another long hard evening of TV watching, I guess. Sue and I sat out on the deck for a little while, checking our devices. Then we too went off to our bedroom. While Sue scouted out what comes after Greymouth tomorrow night, I wrote my journal. And then we too were off to bed.

Greymouth

After breakfast we said goodbye to our hosts, Jon and Sarah, in Nelson. We drove down towards the west coast of the South Island. Since the earthquake last November made the east coast main highway down to Christchurch impassable, traffic is now re-routed through Nelson and down the west side. That made traffic for the first half of our drive today busier than normal. Still, it was a very lovely relaxed drive. The weather was great, and the road was good, too. 

At around 1pm we had a lunch break in Westport — Sue and I shared a Subway sandwich, much to Sue’s chagrin. That left a 1-hour drive to our hotel in Greymouth without stops. But we made stops. 

One of several fenced-in deer herds. This one was huge, but by the time I stopped the car and got near enough to take a photo, the deer were spooked.

The drive along the coast here was spectacular. The vegetation is lush and green and even ‘tropical’ — lots of palm trees and those ferns that New Zealand is famous for. The roads are in good condition, but whenever you come to a bridge, and that is fairly regularly, you need to watch the sign to see if your lane has the right of way — and if you don’t, you’ll need to wait until oncoming traffic has crossed the single-lane bridge, and then it’s our turn. Simple, but it works. Lots of things about New Zealand are ‘practical’ like that. I’m now convinced that traffic circles work, and that they are a MUCH more efficient way of dealing with intersections than what we have at home.

Back to the drive. Our best stop enroute today was at Paparos National Park, also known as ‘Pancake Rocks’. We parked the car and followed the walkway built for visitors out to the seaside. There were ‘viewpoints’ along the way, each offering a great photo opportunity. So I took photos. Again, this is such a typical ‘kiwi’ thing — they love their natural environment here. Walks, hikes (or ‘tramps’ as they’re called here), cycling, mountain biking, surfing, fishing and hunting, camping and especially camper vans — New Zealand promotes outdoor physical activity and New Zealanders love to travel, abroad, but also within their own country. And the government has focussed on making things accessible, like the pathway around these pancake rocks, but also with bike and hiking paths throughout the country. Anyway, here are lots of photos of the pancake rocks (so-called because the layers of shale you see might suggest a pile of thin pancakes).

We arrived in Greymouth at around 4pm and checked into our hotel. The hotel and our hotel room appeared to have undergone recent renovations, and we were quite pleased with our booking. We unpacked, poured ourselves a drink, and unwound a bit. At around 7pm we walked over to the hotel restaurant. We had a fine supper meal, during which we got a return phone call from the mother-in-law of Sue’s nephew Scott. We don’t really know Kayla’s parents, but they just finished a 4-day glacier hike in Franz Josef Park (where we’re heading tomorrow), and Sue had emailed them yesterday to see if we might meet for coffee in Greymouth today. Kayla’s mom suggested that we join them for a hike here tomorrow, but we’d just booked a place in Franz Josef and were planning to leave here early tomorrow so a phone call would have to suffice. 

Back in our room Sue got finally got her CNN fix. And I tried to upload my humungous photo gallery. I guess everyone else in this hotel is downloading movies and ‘the pipe’ is a bit slow right now. Oh well, at least we can watch a bit of Trump on TV!

Franz Josef Glacier

Sue repacked our 2 suitcases this morning — the big one stays in the trunk, the smaller one has what we need for the next 3 days and comes in with us every night. She made two ‘pots’ of coffee in our motel room french press and that was it for ‘breakfast’. We hit the road at around 9 o’clock. Since our drive down to the Franz Josef Glacier is just following highway #6 down the west coast I decided NOT to use google maps on my phone as the GPS; and instead I tried Maps.ME, a ‘free’ app that uses downloaded map data and so doesn’t need to have access to live data. It doesn’t have traffic updates, but it’s free, and I really don’t need traffic updates today. Well, it was like we had a new passenger in the car with us. We immediately noticed the new ‘voice’ of Maps.ME. She sounded a little grumpy, and although the app worked very well, it took us a while to get used to her saying, “In 900 metres, keep straight.” and then in 900 metres, even though there was no roundabout or intersection, she’d say, “Keep straight.” Hmmm… not really a choice, so I guess we’ll ‘keep straight’!

The drive down to Franz Josef was beautiful and uneventful. It IS amazing the diverse range of geography we see in such a short time. Plains, desert, tropical jungle, snow-covered majestic mountains, beaches, rocky shorelines, swampy ‘everglades’, etc. Like the lady from Brandon that we met in that honey shop many weeks ago said, New Zealand is very like Canada, but with all the regions of Canada ‘squished together’.

We pulled into Franz Joseph at around 1pm. Lunch time. We checked into our hostel and headed to the nearby ‘Four Square’ grocery store to buy a sandwich and a pastry. We sat on at a street-side table and had lunch. The hostel ‘manager’ had told us not to buy the $75 walking tour; just drive the 4kms to the big car park at the beginning of the trail and follow the signs along the path. So that’s what we did.

We didn’t expect to be able to get right up to the glacier — but very close. And once again, the paths and the parking and the facilities and signage were typically New Zealand ‘top-notch’. A 45-minute walk should get us near to the glacier. I ‘knipst’ a few photos of the pathway and signs and the glacier along the way. When we got to the end we were a bit disappointed that the path ahead was now closed: apparently a big rock slide had blocked the path ahead. Oh well, if that’s how it is, that’s how it is. We turned around and headed back to the car. And then back to our hostel.

We asked if we could cancel our booking — we still had most of a beautiful afternoon ahead of us, and we thought perhaps we could shorten tomorrow’s drive down to Queenstown a bit by getting a head start today. Unfortunately the guy at the front desk said he couldn’t do that. Okay. Then we’ll check into our room (private double with ensuite — none of that ’12 bunks sharing a bathroom’ business for old farts like us) and read until it’s time for supper.

While I don’t think we’re quite ready to ‘hostel’ our way around like we did a dozen years ago, it was quite interesting watching the goings-on at the hostel all day. Not too many fat Brits and Americans (or ‘hippos’, as we’ve come to call them) stay in hostels. But lots of attractive young lads and lasses do. They come in carrying HUMUNGOUS backpacks, wearing cute little tank tops, very short shorts, and big hiking boots, and carrying grocery bags. And they gather at the outdoor picnic tables and play cards and laugh a lot and look at their phones. And at 6 o’clock sharp, the whole lot of them hurry over to the big shared kitchen where they will enjoy the ‘free soup’ the hostel advertises. And did I say they are gorgeous?

We walked the one block to the main street and turned left. First restaurant was full, but they sent us to check out the upstairs. Just then a super long limo pulled up and about 10 very rowdy young hooligans climbed out and entered the restaurant. We went next door — there was a little Chinese ‘Take-Away’ there. Hey, we can do that. We ordered our food and while it was being cooked we walked down the street to the Four Square to buy another bottle of wine and a six-pack. By the time we were back at the take-away our ‘beeper’ told us the food was ready. We took our bags back to the hostel and ‘made a party’ on the deck in front of our room. Supper! Super! By now all the rooms on the second floor of our building were booked — all doubles with ensuite, i.e. old people’s rooms. And in front of each patio door, sitting at their little round tables just like we were, elderly (in age, but surely not in spirit) couples, having their dinner and sipping their drinks while the sun went down and the mist rolled in. While down below us in the big lounges, the music was thumping and the young ‘uns were eating and enjoying themselves. 

By 9:00 pm the little no-see-ums and mosquitoes chased us into our room, where we sat on our bed and looked for studio apartments to rent in Christchurch on AirBnB. Always a fun and satisfying experience 😉