From Wellington we headed north. Stopping in Taupo; a resort community on the Great Lake Taupo. The lake exit had an exciting fall of water we had to see. That was what Cetacea told us. We’ve not seen Tony and Gail in 3 years. Not since we left French Polynesia. They had recently returned to NZ and were starting their auto adventure to the S Island. We would rendezvous here, share some places we stayed and visited and hear of their adventures. The sailing community is akin to a small US town with the only difference being we’re spread across the globe.
We drove like hell getting to the Ferry. We thought we might stay in Blenham for the night then drive onto the ferry the next am. It wasn’t to be. Using Priceline we discover all reasonable motel rooms were full. I had thought we could look for a place to stay an hour or so before we arrived. I was wrong…. again! 🙂 Fortunately the place we had reserved a room that was full helped us locate a reasonably priced room in Picton. It meant another 30 minute drive, checking in and food for our weary bodies. We arrived in rain.
A lot of wind and rain. The night wasn’t looking peaceful. Fortunately hiding in a motel room behind layers of cement we are insulated from the real world. The following am we woke to the same conditions. Miserable wx; with a great deal of wind and rain. We packed up, gassed up, and headed to the ferry.
There we pulled up in line buffeted by wind and rain to wait yet again. An hour later we were told the trip across Cook Strait is canceled. Come back for the afternoon crossing. They compensated us with some free food on the trip. Yippee! NOT. The wx indicated a gale was brewing out of the south. Crossing in our boat would have been rougher than we ever would have liked, in the ferry it was quite doable. On the board at the ferry dock they display when they won’t go and when they won’t take passengers but will take cargo. Today was a one step away from not taking passengers. For W/ and I, it would still be more comfortable than some days we’ve experienced aboard Elysium.
Close your eyes and walk down the aisle on the ferry and you would look like a drunk. Open the eyes and hang on to the rail – all was good. I didn’t see any passengers sick. Most passengers stayed in their seats and as travelers anywhere many were lost in their world of music, videos, and podcasts.
We arrived in Wellington to the same wx except dark. We drove off the ferry and with Waze we were able to locate our evening’s lodging. We wanted to do the tourist thing in NZ’s capitol before heading further north. We hit up their national museum, Te Papa, which was hugely awesome and we highly recommend. That visit took up most of the day but we had a few hours left. We tried the Planetarium – closed. We came to the idea of visiting their Parliament. I figured they would want to seek my deep pool of wisdom. I was disappointed! 🙂 But we were lucky. We arrived just as a tour was beginning. From the basement to the top of the building we were able to see how New Zealand’s government worked. We watched one session on the floor. Our guide pointed out one American was elected by Kiwi’s and sits in the general assembly.
After Taupo we headed to John and Penny’s farm. We met John in Fiji and he’d invited us to spend a few days with him and his wife Penny. They lived near Hobbiton where we hoped to see Frodo and met Gandolf. With directions on the Waze and guidance from John on navigating the farm roads we arrived early afternoon. Penny was a hoot. Full of vim and vigor she rolled with my subtle acerbic comments and even threw some of them back at me. John is quiet and unassuming. He chuckles and thinks upon my crazy comments. Penny is right there with me, never missing an opportunity to point out how snarky I may be. We toured their farm, spent some time at their son’s high tech milk cow farm, visited a predator safe Kiwi sanctuary, and shared great food and stories.
Years ago, John had a cow with a bad eye. The vet removed the eye and the cow seemed none the worse. A year later the other eye became infected and she became blind. John needed to bring three of the cows up to the barn, one of them the newly blinded cow. In bringing the cows to the barn she (the blind cow) had to cross a stream and walk along a narrow ridge. At a stream the two with sight crossed easily while the blind one balked. She wasn’t going to cross the stream. And a 100 kg man wasn’t going to move a 1,000 kg cow. As John thought about what to do, one of the two cows that had traversed the stream turned and “talked” (moo’ed) to the blind cow. The blind cow didn’t move. A few seconds later the cow with good vision, walked back across the stream and began nudging the blind cow across. None of this at John’s urging. Soon the blind cow was across the stream. As they began their trek along a narrow path on the mountain side John noticed the blind cow again hanging back, unsure if she ought to go forward or not. The cow that had helped her across the stream nudged and spoke to her, walking beside her, outside of her on the path. Do animals have empathy? You tell me.
To ensure we don’t end up smelling like fish visiting longer than three days we spent one day visiting Hobbiton. Hobbiton is the movie community where Frodo and his friends lived in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We met the owners in Fiji and hoped to connect with them but it didn’t turn out that way. However we partook of the tour and discovered more movie magic. If you look at some of the pictures from W/’s gallery you’ll see in one how tall I look. Yes, I will admit Gandolf was a distant relative! 🙂 In other photos I’m not as tall. They fabricated the Hobbit homes to different sizes and while they look alike they are not. Some are smaller meant to make individuals next to them look larger and others are larger to make the actors look small, a little like Hobbits.
We returned to John and Penny’s for a final evening before the drive back to Elysium. There we met a young man; Simon, from Europe wanting to work in NZ and as John and Penny were friends of his parents they offered to house and help him in his job search. If they are indicative of Kiwis it is no wonder the country is often thought of as a paradise. For us the people and the vistas represent nothing short of paradise. The temperatures… not so much.