Opportunity Shopping

The morning of Feb 19 was a relaxing one. I had the morning off as Sox had the kids with her at the library. I took the opportunity to do some shopping downtown. The downtown plaza was really nice to stroll through, and had lots of shops to browse.

I stopped in at Shadz again for another coffee (long black all the way), and I also tried their smoky bacon stack. This was an english muffin topped with a hash brown, roasted squash, cheese, and bacon, all drizzled with one of the best smoky barbecue sauces I’ve ever had. This snack was to die for.

In the afternoon the lot of us headed to the Spa pool for a swim. It was a nice relaxing time. Their warmest pool was almost too warm for me, but the rest of the pools were darn right cold in comparison. Beet had a great time splashing like always, but her brother stuck to the waterfall pool that felt almost ice cold.

That night for dinner we had home made pizza. The main one was ham and pineapple which all the kids devoured (the adults had a couple pieces too). The other pizza was delicious, but decidedly different. Take lots of caramalized onions, add on some fresh ripe pear, then top with a delicious brie, and bake.

We definitely enjoyed the cuisine while we were there.

Feb 20 was a very rainy day. We looked for something inside for the kids to do, and found a kindergym. It certainly wasn’t the cleanest feeling place in the world, but Sprout had a fun time chasing after his older cousin. He also followed his cousin into a ball pit where a ball fight was going on. It was so cute to see the two of them hiding behind a large pillow while older kids were tossing balls their way. The two of them were looking at each other and laughing their heads off. Occasionally they would toss a ball in the direction of the older boys, then duck down again. Neither of them seemed to mind when they got beaned by a ball or two.

During Beet’s afternoon nap Sox and I headed back downtown for some more shopping. I picked up a really nice long sleeve shirt. We also stopped in at Shadz where I had my final long black at that establishment.

Our trip was drawing to an end and this was getting a little sad.

Unusual Shooting

I have been a little lax about getting my last few New Zealand posts up, but I am determined to finish them.

Way back on Feb 18 I started the day by going for a walk with Beet. We wandered around the waterfront in Napier stopping at a cafe. There I had a scrumptious bacon and brie muffin. Actually it was bacon, with melted brie, on an amazing corn meal muffin, and alongside I had a long black.

After catching up with everyone we decided to head over to Waipatiki beach again, with a stop along the way at Tangoio Falls. I wanted to get some pictures of the falls, and everyone indulged me in that.

At the parking lot for the falls, we hiked in the 20 minutes and discovered the falls. Quite pretty, but not spectacular. Some other people were there, but they were just packing up. Sox seemed quite tense to me, and after asking her, she relayed to me that the people had a gun sitting on the rock. As they left, one of the women asked the rest of their party “Who has the gun”. That was an unusual experience to say the least.

The family left me behind to take pictures with the promise that I would meet up with them at Waipatiki Beach.

After spending a lot of time shooting the falls, and getting quite wet by standing in the water, I called the shoot finished. I shot a few pictures along the way back to the car too.

I made the short drive over to Waipatiki and rejoined the group on the beach. I strolled around there taking a few shots as wells. The water was way more rough this day than the precvious day. I had wanted to go in, but the waves seemed quite unpredictable. I was also feeling a little under the weather as I though I was coming down with a cold.

There is no denying that New Zealand is a beautiful country.

Aquarium Viewing

Feb 17 saw us visit the The National Aquarium of New Zealand, which is in Napier. This was a small aquarium with no large animals, but it was perfect for Sprout. He ran around with his cousin looking at fish and other animals. There was enough to keep me interested as well. The exhibits were excellent, and I liked that they had lots of local fish and animals. They also had some enormous eels which I though were cool.

There was a scuba diver that did a fish feeding show that was entertaining for the kids, but right next to that was a shark tank. This tank had a tunnel right through it which made for excellent viewing.

The first time I walked past the turtle tank I didn’t see anything. I didn’t think much of it, but the second time I went past the tank I saw the turtle tucked away in the corner. What a magnificent animal. As usual I was entranced by the animal and thankful to have experienced it, but I was also sad that it was captive there.

They also had Kiwi’s in a special habitat. Kiwi are nocturnal birds and would normally be sleeping. Their enclosure was darekened, but a red light enabled us to see two of them. They were walking around poking their beaks into the ground looking for food. Here is a really bad picture where you can almost make out a kiwi.

Outside we saw these huge Megaladon jaws. Everyone else was taking their pictures in them so we did too!


Mussels Bluff

On Feb 16 Sox and I got to check out the Napier Museum. It was an interesting little museum and I learned a lot about the big quake they had. Some of the stories told in the museum were haunting, and more than a little scary to think about since Victoria is overdue for an earthquake.

There were several different exhibits there, and one of the was called “Like: An Experiment In Interpretation”.

LIKE is a curatorial experiment that explores interpretation and translation across different artistic fields and media. This project was the initiative of Nelson based artist and curator, Stella Chrysostomou and it is framed as a scientific experiment into the processes of making.

The experiment began with the selection of an object that was simple and geometric but ambiguous in shape and function. This object was then described in written form by leading New Zealand poet, Bill Manhire. This description was then sent to nine national and international jewellers – Fran Allison, Andrea Daly, Peter Deckers, Karl Fritsch, Caroline Gore, Gavin Hitchings, Erik Kuiper, Sean O’Connell, and Lisa Walker – who were asked to interpret and ‘decipher’ the object based on Manhire’s text. This exhibition presents the original object along with the resulting pieces made by the nine jewellers, and Bill Manhire’s text, in an intriguing display that encourages viewers to closely examine the creative process of object making.

Basically a poem was interpreted by some jewelry makers and turned into a physical object. The poem itself was interesting and complicated. It begged for interpretation, and the jewellers did an excellent job with their creations.

Since this was our last week in New Zealand our hosts were helping ensure that we got the most out of the week that we could. One thing we hadn’t experience were fresh New Zealand mussels. Green Lipped mussels actually.

These were prepared in a white wine curry sauce that was to die for. Add in some fresh baked bread to sop up the sauce, and we were happy, happy, happy.

Later, after the kids were in bed, Sox and I went for a little drive to the bluff lookout to see the sun set. It was a gorgeous location and the sunset didn’t disappoint. It was a little windy though, and I had left my tripod in the car since I was being lazy, and that definitely showed in my pictures. Many of them were thrown away.

Rapids Scope

After leaving Rotorua, we drove the Thermal Explorer Highway. I see that they name their highways like we do: with sometimes silly names. Along the way I saw lots of signs to geothermal tourist traps. There were steam vents, geysers, mud pools, etc. We were on a bit of a schedule, and didn’t want any extra stops. We were trying to get to Lake Taupo for lunch, but first a stop at the Aratiatia Rapids.

The owner of the Pohutu Lodge told Sox about this place. There is a dammed river where a few times a day they release a bunch of water turning the gentle stream into raging rapids. Our timing wasn’t perfect though and it was going to be tight on seeing the start of the show.

After we arrived we realized we had missed the start, but were going to be able to see the end. This turned out to be less spectacular than we anticipated. The raging rapids slowly returned to a gentle stream. I suspect the beginning of the show would have been interesting, but similar.

If you look closely in this last picture you can see where I took the pictures of Sox and Beet. There is a tiny looking fenced off area. This gives an idea of scope.

From the rapids it was an easy drive to Taupo where we stopped for lunch at Dixie Browns. I had an excellent Sea Food chowder with a side of garlic bread. From Taupo it was a quick an easy drive back to Napier. This was definitely the fastest and straighest sections of highway we saw in New Zealand.

Thermal Village

Feb 15 was our last day in Rotorua. The plan was to visit the Whakarewarewa thermal village after packing up. This turned out to be a very interesting and informative tourist attraction. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

The tour showed us many parts of the village including some of the steam vents, the mud pools, the cooking areas, and the bathing areas.

We learned that the mud pools were too hot to sit and soak in, but the mud was excellent for therapeutic uses. It gets harvested in the winter when the mud is more pliant. It felt very primitive seeing the bubbling steaming mud pools.

The cooking pool was called the champagne pool. This is where they cook all their veggies. They are placed in the pool for a few minutes and pulled out when done. Obviously this means the water is extremely hot (120º). Scientists studied the pool and tried to measure its depth, but ran out of tape at over 50 metres (if I remember properly). This pool gets its name from its eruption. The ground shakes a little bit then the water level in the pool raises 4-5 inches then settles again. This is followed by lots of tiny bubbles rising through the pool.

Meat is cooked in boxes built over steam vents. Very simple to use. Cooking times were easy to remember. Corn in the water for 5 minutes, a whole frozen chicken in the steam box for 1 hour. Everything else was in between.

The carved houses were pretty amazing. Different parts of the house symbolized various parts of the body. The carvings also told of the family genealogy. The main house in the village was over 400 years old.

The baths were pretty amazing too. Some of the water from a hot pool was channelled to the bathing area and fed into the tubs. Through the open air process, the water cooled to 26º by the time it was in the tub. It was also filled with lots of minerals that refresh the skin. And they were outside. The communal baths overlooked a river, and you could either watch a sun rise or a sunset as you bathed. Breathtaking.

Then we got to see the Pohutu Geyser. This was a beautiful and amazing sight.

Finally, it was just bizzare to see steam rising from the ground in so many places. Front yards, streams, holes in the ground, even from some of the above ground graves. It was interesting to see how they use their environment in so many ways.

The guide we had in the village was awesome. He was full of lots of interesting information and had quite a sense of humour about him. I highly recommend this tour to others.

Adventure Home

The New Zealand adventure has come to an end. I am sitting on my couch here in Victoria. I still have lots of posts to make still, but I had to mention that the past 27 hours have been a bit of a blur.

At 4pm New Zealand time we headed for the airport. At 7pm local time we were getting off the ferry (7pm Victoria is 4pm New Zealand). Around 8, both kids were in bed, and now I am just relaxing a bit before heading to bed.

Lots of fun, lots of memories. I am a little sad the adventure is over, but it is nice to be home.

Imbalance Again

Also on Feb 14, I found a medical clinic in Rotorua that fixed up my ear. Dr Allyson took a quick peek, then got a nurse to syringue out my ear. Some wax had gotten dislodged and was resting on my eardrum causing a strange imbalance in my hearing. This had happened to me several times as a child, but the first time as an adult.

A nurse pumped what felt like several cups of water through my ear while Sprout watched. He was very interested in what she was doing, but didn’t say a thing. Finally she got the wax out and I could immediately tell the difference.

After getting my hearing cleared up, Sprout and I bought Sox a Valentines Day gift. After nap time for Beet, Sprout got play time at a playground right down on the lake. Dinner at Breakers again, then back to the motel for bed time.

Luge Fun

Feb 14 (Valentines Day), our destination was Skyline. We were going to take the gondola up, I was going to do a couple luge rides, then we would head back to the motel.

I didn’t mention it was 13° and raining. Still, I wanted to make sure I got at least 1 luge ride in. We ended up buying a pack of 3 luge rides since it was cheaper than buying 2.

I got my butt totally soaked, and froze on the return lift ride, but it was totally worth it. The luge ride was a blast. You sit on the little cart and follow a paved path down. Controlling the cart is easy and you can go as slow as you like. All first timers must go down the scenic loop which was lots of fun. On my second trip down I took the intermediate track. It was fun, but not as fun as the scenic loop. The intermediate is faster, but that meant you got to the bottom quicker. Sox used the third ticket to try it out.

When she returned, she convinced me Sprout would like it and that I should take him down, so I did.

Sprout had a blast and actually wanted me to go fast. At one point we caught another group of people. I pulled over and stopped to let them get ahead of us. Then we caught up to them again. Sprout started saying something so I pulled over and stopped, concerned that we were going too fast for him. He just wanted me to stop so we could catch them again 🙂

The lift ride up was fine, but I was worried he would fall. He was just sitting there on the seat with his legs crossed enjoying the view, asking me to move my arm (which I had behind him to hold on to him a little).

For his trip down he was given a couple tattoo’s. Luge Ranger, Fun Patrol. I did a terrible job putting those on.

In the cafe at the top we had coffee, tea, and snacks. Their coffee was amazing in my books.