March 20, 2009
Sorry…I am so late to post this blog that I typed in San Francisko airport while waiting for our flight to Vegas. All flights were good, we were back home in time, around 8:30 pm. The drive from Vegas was smooth, but we were both tired of the long trip. Our car stayed all that time at Parkers’ house in Vegas- because they are “the Parkers” – almost everyone from Springdale and Rockville use their good heart and park their cars there while on flying trips:
And at home, oh boy – lots of things to do, the garden to take care of, my Mom to amuse at least a little – she was so kind and devoted to come all the way from Lithuania and stay in our house alone while we were away. So here are my impressions I wrote while still on the way home:
So here we are in San Fran, as Kiwis call it in their habit to shorten the names. Our flight is delayed a little…as usual…When you fly international – they treat you so well, but once you get into any country, things change on inland flights. I don’t say that they treat us bad, but it is no fun any more. The New Zealand flight was fun, I didn’t want it to end. We each had our personal TV’s with a choice of hundreds of movies and TV shows, not speaking about games, that I never had time to try. They fed us very well, they gave us beer, wine and other alcohol. It was so nice that I didn’t notice how those 12 hours passed by. It was some disturbance on the way, but what can you do. The plain shivered for a while. On my way out I asked the pilot what was that – he said it is nothing, not to worry, as they usually say, just passing some high clouds.
The last day was good, except getting to the airport was nervous, as usual. We Left our last lodge in Rotorua:
and drove through a rather nice landscape past Rotorua – with vertical tall stones sticking from small hills – each hill had either a stone or a tree – like in a fairy tale, but we didn’t stop to take pics. Until we reached Miranda Hot Springs – and there we couldn’t resist – hot pools are one of our biggest entertainments! So we immersed together with a bunch of older people, almost no kids, very quiet, everyone meditating in a big warm pool or going for some hot bubbles in a smaller one.
That was a good relax before the long flight. I did some stretches in the water, our backs were good, it means the pools helped. They were mineral, directly form the earth’s depths.
After that we missed the sea which had to be by the pools, or vice verse, based on the map. Sometimes maps don’t help much. So we did a round trip and returned to the sea. It means that some areas in NZ are not so easy to figure out. On a nice shore we had our last lunch with a sea gull asking for her share and Andrei explaining her that there is a lot of more suitable food for her in the sea, just do not be lazy:
and then on another shore we finished packing our bags, sticking shells and stones in all shoes …A bunch of ducks were keeping us a very cozy company!
In reward I fed them with bread, it left a very pleasant feeling. And we were already rushing to return the car in the airport. Apparently we didn’t analyze the directions enough, and count our time. It was a stressful experience to find the airport – once of a sudden the landscape from countryside changed into a city and maybe because kiwis always say “no worries” – they don’t bother putting enough signs directing to the airport when the roads make many turns and mingle. So after two stops to ask helpful drivers for directions and one panic attack – we found the right airport (there were signs to another local airport, too, and the main airport wasn’t distinguished on the signs as “International Airport” or at least “Auckland Airport”, it was just “Airport”). And we found ourselves at the Juicy Rentals exactly at 5pm when we were supposed to return the car.
That is it, we are back to our occupations. It is very good to have a Blog – no need to tell about your impressions after the trip . They are all here.
A couple more thoughts about New Zealanders – they are sharp, wherever we had to deal with them in hotels, info centers or airport – they are fast thinkers, very concentrated in their work, no disattracttions. Pleasant, but very formal, no jokes. Once we came back to the US – the officials in the airport are more human-like, at least they seemed to me. I mean you can talk personally to them a little, even chat. What concerns info – we got some good hints where to travel only from one lodge manager, but only a bit a day, very scarcely. In info centers they can direct you eagerly only into activities that are the paid ones. Nobody tells you what you can do on your own, you have to read yourself and figure it out. You can only ask them precice questions, and will get very short formal answers. They somehow show no interest in helping you to see as much as possible, in comparison, lets say with what I got in my experience in some info centers in the US parks, or what I share with my guests. On the whole, Kiwis are pleasant, easy going, very private people, very quiet and not interested in any sensations. Again – it is my impression after having too little interaction with them. Maybe it is completely wrong…
March 15, 2009
We are now spending our last evening with computers…Even I turned into a geek…
Today we didn’t drive much, only 220 km. At first by lake Taupo, which is very clear, transparent, nice shores, some low, some steep, good views. But it feels a little cold for swimming…Autumn is already here:
Then we looked into those Aratiatia Rapids close to Taupo city:
There are lots of interesting things going on there, but no energy to get into them. By things I mean lots of alternative power stations – they are using this hydro power in creative ways, also geothermal power, and those power stations have their excursions where you can get deeper knowledge about it. Also – there is a prawn farm there where the water is heated by geothermal power. All this area between Lake Taupo and Rotorua is full of thermal activity and there are parks and valleys where you each time purchase a ticket and do their walks around geysers, pools and mud pools. they even have a geyser which in my eyes is more faithful than Old Faithful – it is called Lady Knox Geyser – and it erupts every day at 10:15 am! I think that Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is the best based on price – beauty ratio, but everyone has his own mind and taste… And we had no time or interest to visit all of them. After seeing Yellowstone twice very extensively you feel like “geysered out”.
Close to Rororua we noticed a Maori village – it looked interesting form the outside, but they don’t let youin, unless it is evening and you have a ticket to their concert and hangi meal…
Then we drove to the Burried Village, then to three lakes close by – everything here is shaped by volcanoes and their eruptions.
Back in Rotorua we did a walk by the lake – almost all shore has steams coming…there is a silica beach – with boiling holes in it. Birds like this lake a lot – the water is warm. And light grey because of the sulphur salts in it:
Pukeko hen was wandering in a golf field:
We even soaked in Polynesian baths, took a deluxe one facing the lake, fantastic!
And then walked to a Maori (Arawa tribe) village – Ohinemutu on the side of Rotorua. this is one of rare villages that they permit tourists to visit without tickets. And it is cute, very cute. Especially in this evening sun:
They have an Anglican church and their Maori meeting house facing each other.
Their cemetery is different – they bury above ground because the heat and steams are coming even through the street bricks, through basements, everything. Their village is all in steam. People heat their tea pots in the yard in the boiling pools…
To top the day we had some beer in Pig and Tail pub under big trees full of singing birds in the dark of the night! Strange. Also – the streets of Rotorua were so empty, that you could walk on the middle of the driving part – no cars, no people…Strange…
And that is it, our trip is over! Tomorrow we are driving to Auckland airport. If I see something on the way – I will definitely place it on my blog after we come back. Till then!
So here we are – past Tongariro National Park, in Oasis Motel in Tokaanu. I read about Tokaanu as a good place to
see hot pools and hot muds for free, but I never expected to find it by a cute conical shaped mountain close to lake
Taupo as a small group of motels and a hotel – and nothing else. Each motel has several spa pools and hot mineral
pools because they are built on those hot valves, for Gods sake…Here in the evening you can see gas coming out
from the slopes of the mountain, from every crevice in earth. I wish we won’t explode to the air in the middle of
the night…A nice room with a kitchen, en-suite, with TV, etc. is from $80-100 NZ, soaking in pools included – can
you wish for more?
But back to our day from the beginning. The clouds started clearing up later in the morning and once we reached
Wanganui – the day was beautiful and fresh. Whanganui is a really nice city, we even drove through it to see again
the parrots that we have seen on our way down to the South island. I bet we liked them a lot. It was two weeks ago
and the ducklings haven’t grown much…
A chicken-acrobat was trying to get into the parrot family cage… the view was very surreal:
We were not as tired this time and so we saw the winter garden, too. It was beautiful to the extreme. Boy, I
respect those people from Wanganui…I’d like to volunteer in that winter garden, that would be my place to be…But it was so neat, so luscious, so taken care of.
There was an outside flower-sculpture garden where the theme was The Wizard of Oz with the main characters made in a creative way:
Andrei and his friends:
Then there was a drive through the hills and mountains by fast mountain rivers down below:
Until we saw the fresh white cap of Mt.Terangu, which is so wide because it explodes every 3-5 years bringing up
spectacular shows as they show on TVs in the visitor’s center.
So we drove around it and from the other side it looked differently:
We even did a small walk on one of the tracks to get a feeling of the beech forest that surrounds the mountain:
One more bigger volcanoe of the park:
The forest is very humid, lots of moss on trees, luckily today was so sunny.
Then there was a little lake on the way – full of black swans:
They were making such pleasant sounds that I thought it would be good if breaders created parrots which would make such noises. That would be a big seller . I’d be the firts one buying such a pet. Or at least with a duck’s kria-kria…
And then we saw a view from high up towards lake Taupo – the view was too good to believe it was a reality…
But it was. So we drove down to the basis of that conical shaped mountain and here we are – by the hot springs. Some of them are like bubbling chocolate:
some very transparent and deep, very hot:
some look like a crevice:
They all are similar to the ones we have seen in Yellowstone NP. I guess- the same undergound activity…
Very pleasant to watch and experience.
It is nice that we will leave soon on this nice note!
March 13, 2009
What a coincidence, I can’t believe. Exactly 2 weeks ago on Friday we slept in Barnacle Inn in Paraparnaumu (Prim in Kiwi language), by the sea, 40 min north of Wellington on the way to South island. Here we are again on the way back for our flight from Auckland home…In addition to that we also got the same room with the view to the sea…
Triplets (the red one is ours -they are Japanese Sirion by Daihatsu – served well):
But from the beginning: In the morning in Kaikourua we had to rush so had a short look at the seals
and also I finished my Blog in the Backpackers lodge where they had internet:
Took pics of some houses I liked in the town:
Then there was a 2 h drive to Picton – very beautiful landscapes, very winding road, for that reason rather slow.
Lots of cars, buses and trucks to pass. it is only 150 km, but that is how long it takes. You have to be by ferry an hour before the trip. And we were 1 h exactly, but we were among the last. Then when you get in the last – you get out the last, too. It took 1 hour of waiting in Wellington to get out. We drove a little through the center of the city, looked very beautiful, and drove out and got into such a traffic jam…As if all people form Wellington were suddenly evacuating…for no particular reason.
So we got tired of driving 5 km/h and decided to stop where we have already been. The sun showed herself for a short moment by teh evening and the sunset by the wide beach on the sea was beautiful.
March 12, 2009
The Art museum was planned for the morning. The building is really impressive. Very modern architecture. As if
designed by Sir Warren, if I remember correctly. As if he is a distinguished architect here and has built so many
impressive buildings. But I have to check if I am writing his name right…it was his exhibit in the building, but
for our tired brains – too much reading and attentive looking. Else – there were some exhibits, some alder some
more modern New Zealand paintings, but I wasn’t impressed at all. Sorry. But it was our luck – we still had some
time to walk around the Botanical gardens which are one of the most wonderful we have seen here:
The begonia collection almost got me fainted…:
What secrets do they know so that their begonias look like queens of the flower world? there was no time to figure
out, our car was on timing. So we ran to it and left the city with another mystery we haven’t managed to figure out
- on the map Christchurch is as if on the sea shore, but they don’t show the shore in the detailed maps, as if it
doesn’t mean nothing, that sea or the shore. The action is deeper inland. And as yesterdays singer told us – New
Zealanders are strange – the rich ones choose to live by the airport, but not by the sea. So who knows – we tried
to drive to their sea, tried to reach the coast, no luck, ran out of time and gave up. As I say – who knows – maybe
it is not attractive at all, maybe it is like marshlands…This land in the area is different – there are a lot of rivers rushing to the sea, but on the way they spread their stream so much that they divide into small ones and finally not much reaches the sea. It reaches – only under the surface. it was described in their museum in the water theme – the cities on the coast do not get enough water, the ocean steals it from under…
So we drove up, towards North, and when we got closer to the coast the road started to wind a lot. There were
Cathedral Cliffs on the way
then some short tunnels, the mountains appeared again, even with white peaks. And when we reached the most beautiful place – it was Kaikoura, our destination. Accidentally we found an art gallery of a Swiss artist, who enjoys his unorganized (versus Swiss organized) life here. We didn’t expect to like his art so much that we bought a lot of his prints. There I met a Lithuanian woman who still remembers her language though her mother has died 6 years ago and since then she never spoke Lithuanian. She was excited. She lives in Australia and her name is Valeri.
We found a nice little cottage with a lemon tree and apple trees and an herb garden right by the sea. the owner is a very nice Kiwi – Tony.And here we are alone, spreading our computers on the kitchen table! and drinking tee with Tony’s lemons. He also has a koy fish pond and two big aquariums, as far as I saw in my area. Both aquariums are resembling their river underwaterworld, like the ones they do in zoos. And only a whitebait is swimming there. It is a small fish, nothing fancy, but the man evidently likes them – there are a lot of framed pics of that fish in the house !
And we also saw several seals, as planned. they were very cllose to us, on the shore lying on the rocks or even the grass and bushes. Seemed very tired, wanted to sleep. Only one was making poses, pointing his nose up, etc.Andrei’s jacket is bright or maybe he came too close – the seal barked once at him, showed his teeth. But other than that they were not making any noise, not like in California where they are shouting quite a bit.
So the town looks like this – very nice, can’t be nicer. We had fresh seafood directly on the beach on the way to the seals, but I was very disappointed…Andrei’s scallops were fine, but the portions were like for kids, or models…I ordered Paua (Abalone) – a body from that beautiful pearl shell, and got a pancake super thin and with several black gum like peaces in it. No taste at all that I got so unhappy that we had to drive quickly to the center of town to get some quish for me…Some real food . So not everywhere in New Zealand is tasty, as I mentioned earlier. Somewhere it is, definitely, but some places are for making money…as everywhere in the world.
Tomorrow we are driving to Picton and taking the ferry back to Wellington and rushing towards Auckland…It is already warm all day, so unlike it was yesterday. Already the Antarctic winds have changed their direction. It is quiet here, too, nice.