Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Zealand, Part II

The North Island...we were a bit nervous the morning we left Auckland...mainly because it involved driving on the left side, and we were armed with only a somewhat shoddy map purchased hurriedly on sale at Whitcoulls.

Here's a fun fact about New Zealand that nobody tells you before you go...books are crazy expensive. Like $20 for a mass market paperback expensive.  My husband and I (both being avid readers) decided to board the plane with only a quick-read Clive Cussler novel (for him) and People Style Watch (for me).

Good grief. Feel free to judge us, as upon reading that sentence, I'm judging myself.  In my defense, I have developed a habit of saving my trashy novel/fluffy mag reading for planes.  It passes the time...but has also gotten to the point where I cannot physically walk by a Hudson News without buying at least a pack of gum, a Coke Zero and Ok!.

So we buy the bad map at Whitcoulls because we didn't purchase the GPS with a car rental.  Because...we will know where we are going!  It's an island!  We will but a small map and be fine!  How bad could it be?! But when you step into the little red Ford Focus outside the city centre Apex and they cheerily wave you off..."Bye now! have fun!", a cold sweat breaks out on your brow and you wonder..."Are they insane?  They are trusting me to drive this thing safely to Wellington? I have spent the last 30 seconds trying to find the gearshift with my right hand!"

Having driven around Scotland with my brother, I took the first shift and found that, just as with riding a bike, driving on the left truly does come back to you.  And driving on the left while your husband navigates with a cheap map? A true test of marriage. 

Little Red Ford we loved you!
Watching the scenery fly by
We loved the road once cute and comforting and utterly terrifying
Beautiful Mt. Maunganui
We found the the landscape often looked photoshopped...unreal
After burning ourselves to a crisp on the beach...did you know the burn time that far south is 9 minutes?  Yeah, we didn't...we walked the trails on this headland

Oh, to spend my days floating about in a dinghy named Homebrew
We decided to walk up the mount itself and soon discovered we were woefully out of shape.  I think the entire population of Mt. Maunganui sprinted past us up the hill on their evening workouts. 
but the view was worth it
Sad to leave the beach, but excited to visit Hobbiton...
and pet baby sheep!  I mean, how could you not love that face?  And their wool made my hands nice and soft.  Surely there is employment somewhere as a baby sheep petter?  With benefits? 
Next it was on to Rotorua and the amazing peacefulness and relaxation of Kuirau Lodge.  A bit hard to find (again with our map!  I eventually had to find a Starbucks and use my iPhone), but Arthur and Pam were the loveliest hosts and the lodge itself...well...
we didn't move too far from the breakfast buffet and the geothermal pool.

We did manage to tear ourselves away to have dinner on top of Mt. Ngongotaha
where I found a new name for jimmies!  Yes, I take pictures of the dessert buffet. 
with promises to return someday, we sadly departed our favorite accommodation of the entire trip. 

Happy Sunday!  More soon...

 photos, ours

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