Wednesday, April 11, 2018
We started our morning at Lake Taupo and had a long drive to Wellington in front of us. We ate breakfast in our apartment and made plans for the day. The first choice was whether to take the shorter inland route or to add an extra hour and a half and drive to the coast and visit Napier. The guide book said that Napier was a nice English seaside town, so we thought it might make a nice late morning and lunch spot, so we picked that option.
The drive was quite lovely with beautiful green rolling hills and lots of sheep. Once we arrived in Napier, it looked quite nice, if a bit deserted. We found some beach parking and were greeted by the wind. After a couple of blocks, we decided that it might be better to continue our drive and hopped back in the car. Our conclusion that it is probably a nice seaside town in the summer, but not so much in April. We stopped a few block later to use the restroom and found signs indicating that it had won a “Best Loo Award.” I wonder what it would be like to be a judge for that contest.
We continued our drive and stopped at the next semi-large town, Waipukurau, and got lunch. A Bakery Cafe looked nice, and my seafood pie was quite delicious, but Jeremy and the boys were quite disappointed in their fish and chips and hamburgers. Lesson: at a bakery, eat the baked foods. We also got a caramel slice, which was basically two slightly crunchy chocolate cookies sandwiching a caramel filling. It could have been better, but still quite tasty.
We continued the drive, the boys continued working on their school work, and we eventually arrived in Wellington. The parking garage was ridiculously narrow and I doubt that many of the supersized American cars would be able to navigate the ramps.
We found our way to the apartment, Willis Village, collected our key from a lock box, and entered a wonderful apartment! We had two bedrooms, two floors, a full kitchen with an oven and a dishwasher, and a washer and a dryer. Many apartment here only have a washer, so I was very happy to be able to do some laundry and expect that the clothes would be dry by checkout.
After starting the laundry and taking a brief rest, we decided to wander a bit and we eventually got dinner at an Indian place. The lamb was quite good, the fish quite gummy with a nice sauce, and the chicken fine. One thing we noted is that the curries were a lot sweeter than at home. Definitely a different taste. Afterwards we went back to the apartment to finish laundry and relax.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
In the morning, Jeremy wasn’t feeling great, so we had a slow start. Usually I hate going out on my own in new cities in foreign countries, but I decided to go find some breakfast. One thing that surprised us is that New Zealand feels a lot like home, other than driving on the left, so I ended up feeling perfectly comfortable venturing out. James, our boy with an internal GPS that is similar to Jeremy’s, decided to come with me, so I figured if I got lost, he would be quite helpful. Plus I had the GPS on my phone, so there was really nothing to worry about. There ended up being some really nice pastries only a block and a half away. We picked up a delicious looking “chocolate twist” for Jeremy, it was a bit like a chocolate croissant, but much better looking. I got a boysenberry croissant, and James found a box of fruit loops that he was sure that both he and John would be happy with. Some apples and some milk completed our shopping.
Breakfast and tea helped perk Jeremy up and we decided to venture out. The forecast indicated that rain was supposed to start around 1:00, so we chose to take the cable car up to the top of the Botanic Gardens. There was a little cable car museum at the top, so we popped in for a few minutes, wandered a bit, then decided to take the “downhill walk to the city.” We were still fascinated with the odd mix of tropical and forrest plants, so the gardens were quite interesting. There was a nice park halfway down, with a zip-line that the boys loved. We continued down, decided to take a brief uphill diversion to go see the herb garden, then continued onto the rose garden. The rose garden was probably quite nice in the spring, but in April, it was quite drab.
The path ended at the Parliament buildings and we thought about taking a tour, but the boys had little interest.
Since it was getting close to lunchtime, we decided that they probably wouldn’t have the patience for it. We started to wander towards the water and were considering a late lunch after it started raining, but the boys and I were getting quite cranky, so Jeremy was happy that I agreed to a quick McDonald’s lunch. Secretly, I enjoyed their meat pie and salad, so wasn’t unhappy with the decision.
After lunch, we walked along the water. At 12:45 everything went from blue skies and still, to extremely windy with clouds. We doubled back to the New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Museum and ducked in there. As it turned out, the rain never materialized, but at least we avoided the worst of the wind.
The Te Papa Museum is supposed to be the best in New Zealand, and we quite enjoyed it. We started with the WWI history of New Zealand in Turkey, which was quite interesting since it is rarely covered in American histories of WWI. We continued on to a section of the Maori settling New Zealand in the 1200’s, before that New Zealand was uninhabited. The boys particularly enjoyed the exhibits about various animals of New Zealand. John recently did a report on “Endangered Birds of New Zealand,” and was pleased to find all three that he had written about: the kakapo, the kakariki, and the eastern rosella. The history continued through the British settlement of New Zealand, which was also quite interesting to compare it to the British settlement of America. By this point, we were exhausted and decided to skip the section on Toi Art and started to head back to the hotel.
We rested, the boys did some more schoolwork, we took care of some stuff from home, then we ventured out to pick some stuff up for dinner. We did some more laundry, repacked to get ready for our morning flight to Christchurch, and the boys had some iPad and TV time.