Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Woke up to some very strong winds, but at least it wasn't raining, so the girls hit the town of Napier to see it's famous Art Deco attraction. Dave and Steve decided to take a hike to Cape Kidnappers which was about 18K RT. The success of that hike depends solely on the tide, and it was not cooperating. Still, they managed to have a good time boulder hoping until they had to turn around. Bruce took off on a wander of his own, although we
kept running in to him.
Napier was almost completely destroyed in Feb 1931 by
7.8 magnitude earthquake. In a remarkable short 2 years, the town had been rebuilt. It was remarkable, because the rest of the world was
In a big depression, they managed to rebuild in entirely in the style of the early thirties. This is a wonderful town. We all loved it and had fun walking around on a self guided tour and seeing all the art deco architecture.

Tomorrow we leave for a long ride to Wellington. Up early for a good start. Good night.


The rest of the adventure on the river involved the jet boat doing squirrly turns at high speeds with everyone screaming and wahooing! Everyone, but me. Our driver, Pete, was keen on these maneuvers called "Hamilton Spins". A Hamilton Spin is the jet boat going full throttle and the driver putting it into a turn that spins it with force. Very thrilling for everyone. Almost everyone. After the second one, I knew I going to have a problem. But, 'ol Pete just kept racing up the river and finding a wide spot so he could put "the Boss" into her G-force spins! 11 TIMES! As we were coming back dock, we were going to show off for the last picture. Hope they liked the "picture" of me "chucking my cookies"... Or as someone from the back of the boat yelled..I was "feeding" the fishies"

After that fun filled afternoon, I was NOT feeling very well. Everyone was so and helpful, and after a bit I recovered enough hit the road. We had a beautiful ride through some high hills to a cool town called Napier. We got to our cozy rooms on the shore of Hawks Bay just in time for wine time!


Since we were by the longest river in NZ, the Waikato, river activities are plentiful. We were all happy, that after a night of solid rain, there were breaks on the clouds. The team had signed up for a couple of these river activities the day before, so off we went to gear up and meet our jet boat driver, Pete (not to be confused with our tour driver, Pete I. Some of us (the smarter ones) could wear their regular clothes and shoes. The rest of is were in bathing suits and crocs.
All of us donned waterproof capes and life jackets and climbed aboard "the Boss", as Pete affectionately called this boat... A cute little thing with a Chevy 383. We had a scenic ride down the river with commentary on flora,fauna and historical notes. Soon, the first and most sensible group (Nan,Linda, and Pete I) departed for a walk around the magnificent thermal reserve, to see boiling mud,geysers, and silica terraces. The rest ventured on to the walk thru the Tutukau Gorge. Since I was a part of this group,I can give a first hand account. We departed the boat with only our bathing suits on and started "wading through waist deep, warm water while you immerse yourself in stunning native New Zealand bush". This was taken verbatim off the flyer. In actuality, we slid, climbed,swam and made our way up a very narrow slot lined with boulders, ferns,moss. I kept my mind on the fact that NZ does not have any snakes, but then our guide,Pete II, mentioned there were huge eels in that area. Also we could not see the bottom, and at times, I could not even feel bottom. We had some areas where it was hard to decide which area of the body to suck in, as we literally had to squeeze between slippery rock walls to keep going. In one spot we just barely had our head above water to facilitate the squeeze. The reward for all this was a wonderful thermal pool with 2 huge waterfalls pounding down on us giving us thermal waterfall massages! I do not have pictures of the squeeze, but we all looked pretty slithery, prune wrinkled, and soaked! Believe it or not, it was fun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The area we were headed for today is riddled with steam vents coming from the earth. In fact, as one drives along, they say to watch for steam coming from the bushes, and that's what it looks like. We stopped to ask directions to the Geo-Thermal Power Plant and a friendly farmer wearing shorts with his muck boots helped us out. We drove right up to this huge spread out power structure with no gates or guards or any anything. The land is dotted with steam vents, and pipes to capture the steam and turn it to power for New Zealanders to use. It is such a "clean" and easy way to tap into a natural source of energy. There is so much available, that they have to have mufflers to silence the noise it makes under pressure. More noise than jet engines, but as we looked on to this strange landscape, it was eerily quiet.
We love our hotel, The Suncourt, on the Lake. But alas, the sun has evaded us today and We got in our very nice rooms with view of the Lake just as it started to rain. We are in Taupo tonight and the town is bustling with fit athletes as they get ready for the New Zealand Iron Man. Steve already walked down to the staging area to check out his memories! Tomorrow we head for Napier, but not before some of us embark on The Squeeze. It has to do with a jet boat, water, hot pools, and rock walls. Stay tuned.

Lawn Bowling and McCafe

As we headed out of town this am we stopped at a park and a beautiful old statuesque building that used to be a government center. In the park there were a lot of men dressed in white rolling balls on a large lawn. It was a lawn bowling club and taken very seriously in this area. They were in the middle of a match and we were warned not to make a sound. We took in the match and then headed to a McCafe for a "flat white" and some goodies. A McCafe is actually a real McDonalds with a twist! They have an actual espresso bar with succulent goodies AND deli sandwiches,quiches, and breads. It was hard to wrap my head around the set up, because they also had the regular stuff too! They even had soy and alternative milks for the coffees. Bruce was so excited to enter a McDonalds after 40 years, that he posed by the big M for me! He didn't eat anything, though.

Monday, February 27, 2012


After our fun filled afternoon, we arrived in Rotorua with barely enough time to be picked up by Tamaki Maori Cultural Experience bus! Why were we doing this activity? Rotorua is the main area of Maori in NZ, although Maori culture is everywhere. The Tamaki Maori experience started out with a bus full of strangers from everywhere in the world; Sweden,Taiwan,Chile,Australia, USA, and more. Our driver told us we all needed to band together and elect a
"chief" to stand up to the warriors when we arrived at the Village. That chief was.......... Ta-da......Chief Steve! I was christened "Misschief". Dang right!
There were 5 other "bus chiefs" when we got there. They all took instruction in very serious protocol on Maori greetings. They had to stand tall and firm, rub noses with each other, not show fear. Let the ceremony begin. We were led to village were we learned a lot about the culture from long ago. We witnessed the food being brought up from the fire pit. (Brit Pit people- we got some changes coming!) They involved us in their games, their song, and then the chiefs led us to the dining room in the big house where we thoroughly enjoyed the Hangi Buffet Feast. Chicken,pork,mussels, all kinds of vegetables and sides, mostly cooked in a big underground pit. We sang and really enjoyed ourselves learning about Pre European Maori culture in such a fun interactive way. Here are some of the pictures taken at the village!


After wondering the downtown in Auckland, we ventured back to out little hotel and had happy hour. Always a fun time. Then we walked to the small boutique neighborhood around there and were coaxed into a small Italian restaurant by a guy who said he would give us free garlic bread. We are soooo easily led by food. Bruce tried to upgrade us to free wine. We did have a fabulous meal, and even though everyone was complaining about being stuffed, the little gelato place on the way home got our business too.
The next day was sunny and warm and on our way to Rotorua, we stopped for a picnic along the Waikato River. Nancy let us all out in a supermarket first, but she warned the staff there were 6 Yanks loose in then store! After some time looking at all the fun stuff in a NZ supermarket, we loaded up and headed for our picnic. We had a
Huge combination of food, plus someone was drinking R&C's, and we even had hot cappuccinos!
On the way to Rotorua there is an interesting place called the AGRODOME


Before we actually got to Rotorua, a stop was made at the Agrodome. What is that, you might ask? It is a huge sheep ranch were for a price, they show you everything"sheep"......everything. They say that knowledge is power, and I now feel powerful in my sheep trivia. As you can imagine,the male partners in our group decided that may be a little too much sheep info. But the people at the Agrodome had already thought of that, so for another price, they offered the : Zorb, the Swoop, the Bungy, the Free Flight , the Jet Pedal get the picture. So the other half ventured over to the area that offered these adrenaline filled experiences. Basically, I witnessed 3 older guys suit up in some sacks,squeeze together like they would never do in real life,and scream like kids as they were lifted by a crane very high, and then dropped in one fell swoop and swing back and forth while laughing. Thus, The Swoop! This was calculated at a little less than the Sky Jump per second. I am posting pictures here in no particular order of Steve, Dave, and Bruce.... The boys from the 'hood" acting like the youngest thrill seekers around! It was worth every NZ penny to watch. P.S. NZ has no pennies (or nickels).

Posting pictures here


Did I say Auckland was a beautiful city! It is! Everywhere we went we saw beautiful vistas,water,green, and it is clean. As in no litter,trash, or such. Pete, who was born,raised, and still a part time resident said everyone is taught from early on to take care and take pride in their country...and it shows. Because they have strict gun laws, and registration, it is illegal to carry a personal firearm. The police feel no need to carry weapons, so the presence of violence is not the same as in the US.
After the Underworld Tour, which was the dream of Kelly Tariton, we ventured to the big cultural museum in town. Just a brief note that the Underwater Aquarium was entirely built from the old abandoned sewer in Auckland! We walked under the sea as all types of indigenous marine life swam over head and around us, including some big sharks. We loved it.
OK...on the the museum. After watching a short dance presentation that served to just "lick our chops" for more, we all went on our own to the various sections, or interests that related to NZ. I found myself drawn to the culture of the Maori and their transition through the years as the first people in NZ. As you can imagine, the exhibits were quite complete. We spent most of the afternoon there, then we were dropped into the middle of the big city proper to fend for ourselves. Lots of fun as we did "barnsdancing" (their version of everyone crossing the intersections ALL AT ONCE-EVERY WHICH WAY, while all traffic stops. I thought it worked really well, and wish we could borrow it.
As a funny coincidence, all 3 of us gals needed a watch. We were running out of time to
Meet up, so the guys sent 3 women into a giant discount mall to find 3 watches...and we only had 10 minutes! I felt like we were on some reality show, as we raced up the escalator, trying NOT to get distracted by anything. This was a tough assignment, but guess what? Do not underestimate 3 determined women on a mission. We did it!


So......The day we arrive is the day Steve does the jump off the Sky Tower. He said it WAS fun, but pretty scary hanging out over the ledge waiting to just do it. Bruce figured out how much it was per second....20$ a second! Alot just to get the ol adrenaline fix.

The next day we hit then ground running and went to a big attraction in Auckland, Kelly Taritons Underwater World. While waiting for the doors to open, we walked across the street to have a photo op. Well, Nan dropped her camera over the ledge- Bruce went to the rescue, and since he is vertically challenged, it took Steve and Bruce to rescue him! We Did get our picture, but our hosts/guides are starting to get an idea of what they are in for!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Made it to Auckland very early in the am.... 4:00am to be exact. Our friends and tour guides met us with smiling faces and a beautiful 12 passenger Mercedes Van. Since we could not get in to our hotel room at the BarryCourt yet, we took a the dark, on empty streets in Auckland. It was actually very fun, as we were all bleary eyed anyway. We stopped for a coffee at a NZ McDonalds. I got a "flat white", and Linda got a "long black". We are really getting the kiwi lingo down pat! As the dawn broke over the city, we traveled up to some of the highest points to get better views. Auckland is clean and vibrant and there are boats everywhere. Our hotel is in a convenient place to explore, and we will do some more tomorrow.

After resting for a bit we all ventured to the SKY Tower and a fabulous lunch hosted by Nancy and Pete. The Sky Tower is the most prominent land mark in Auckland.....and being such adrenaline junkies, the NZlanders like to jump off of it. Well guess who thought that may be a good idea? Steve. No surprises there. After lunch, he paid the princely sum (yes, they charge people who are crazy to do crazy things here) and suited up. Then after being safety check a lot and hooked to a cable, he went and stood on a ledge 630ft high, and jumped! There is a restaurant high in the Sky Tower, and the jumpers are dangled for a few seconds in front of the diners, so they can enjoy real, honest to goodness FEAR, while sipping their wine and munching on goodies.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Well, looking back at the last date, it has been over a year since I blogged on travel adventures. It's not that we haven 't been anywhere, it's just that I have been addicted to Facebook and my new iPad. Now, I am all cured of those addictions and ready to rumble once more. After the great trip to Guatemala, Steve and I decided to keep then sun in our life and headed out to Maui with our sometimes travling buddies, Chris and Fred...also known as Steve's sister and her husband. We did the usual Hawaii stuff, and also got in on the big tsunami warning that evacuated our hotel and caused the excitement for that week. We also made a trip to Monterey to bike ride watch otters and visit Bob and and Gayle Selby. March is a good time to visit the Monterey Peninsula. The crowds are down and the weather is usually good, but on the cool side. On a fun and windy ride to Pebble Beach Golf Course, we all convened on the 18 hole.... Just to say we did!

After a great summer in little'ol Sequim, we headed to the Grand Canyon and a week of exploring and hiking in the fall. We kept going to Oceanside, Ca. And spent a couple months on the beach in our rental. We enjoyed family and visitors from Sequim.
So....join us again as we head "down under"and spend a few weeks in New Zealand. We have a unique chance to see this country with some real Kiwis who also live part time in Sequim. We are traveling with 2 fun couples who have been tried and tested as good traveling companions. Nan and Bruce Burris....long time friends who know me well, and will keep us honest, and Dave and Linda Lyon, new friends of only about 10 years! After a serendipitous meeting with Nancy and Pete Borrell, who have a home in Christchurch, and also reside in Sequim part of the year...we will be off to explore all the best of the North and South Islands of NZ.
We leave next Thursday, Feb 23, and after a long flight, Nancy and Pete will pick us up at the Auckland Airport...and away we will go. So.....catch us later!