zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
[personal profile] zeborah
Picture me arriving, turning on the lights, and wondering for several seconds, where the cat is. Picture a tremendous clatter at the cat flap. Then picture the cat's dismay when I have to go out ten minutes later to get groceries. I could hear her piteous mew from halfway down the road. Later on she lay on my lap, occasionally looking up to make sure it was actually me, and when I went to bed she came and touched my nose, then slept practically on top of me.

So! The thing to remember is that New Zealand is, if small, nevertheless long. So our itinerary was:

Thurs 27th, 7am: Leave Christchurch
  noon or 1pm or something: arrive Picton, wait to board ferry
  an hour later: ferry leaves. Crossing Cook Strait takes 3 hours, about half of which is navigating through the fjord-ish bit and harbours
  arrive Wellington, drive 2 hours to Palmerston North. After locating a KFC for dinner, ate it at uncle and aunt's house.
  decide to drive on to Tokaanu where my father's family has a holiday house. We arrived there at something like 11pm or midnight.
Fri 28th, 9 or 10am?: Left Tokaanu
  during the day: drove up west side of Lake Taupo; through Hamilton and Whangarei and the Auckland road toll and, um, that town what's north of Auckland. Also lots of blink-and-you-miss-it towns. We stopped briefly in one of these towns and I discovered we were outside a library with free wireless.
  around 8pm I think: arrived in Paihia, Bay of Islands.

Two things I didn't mention above:
a) we had a satnav device, a brand called "TomTom" or something using a female Scottish voice, so we nicknamed her Tammy and anthropomorphised the hell out of her. Tammy was our friend. We've done these kinds of journeys without satnav - atlases work pretty well! - but it's easier with and also it's really cute how patient she is when we're combing the streets of Palmerston North for a KFC and she's trying to tell us how to get back on track for our intended destination.
b) my sister was sick with sore throat and sniffles the whole way up. I lived in dread of catching the bug but my immune system resisted (or maybe it was something I'd had). She was still sick once we arrived but not sleep-the-day-away sick as she had been in the car so got to enjoy the sight-seeing.

On the 29th we went <flop> and visited the library down the road with free wireless.
On the 30th we went to the Parrot Place and Kaleidoscope World in and around Kerikeri (this involved a bit more driving).
me and parrot

On the 31st we took the best road trip ever SRSLY. This is the road we took:
Ninety Mile Beach

This road is called "Ninety Mile Beach" and there are notices at either end about how it's really not recommended within a couple of hours of high tide and in any case you proceed at your own risk. But it really is an official road. Nevertheless it confused Tammy, who tried to tell us to "Turn around where possible" but when her map showed us having been in the sea for a while she gave up in despair. We took lots of photos, including of a car door which must have strayed too close to high tide, and then we took more photos, and then we reached the end of the beach, which was a big cliff towering above us. Fortunately there was a fisherman who told us how to find the road off the beach. This is the road off the beach:
Te Paki Stream

This road is called "Te Paki Stream" and there are notices that say "Soft sand: increase your speed" and "Beware of oncoming traffic". When we emerged onto a stone road we found a car that had increased its speed a bit too much and was now trying to get its tires back on.

Anyway, then we proceeded to our actual goal, which even after all that wasn't an anticlimax. Cape Reinga is the northernmost bit of the mainland if you don't count the bit which is further north, but one doesn't because Cape Reinga also has spiritual significance for Māori: when the body dies, the spirit makes its way up to here and then launches off from a pohutukawa tree at the edge of the shore for its final journey to their homeland of Hawaiki. The site is as a result sacred and visitors are asked not to eat or drink while there. There's lots of information along the path about the relevant legends and history. The path is red volcanic stone, the wind is high and the views are astounding.

Cape Rēinga and pohutukawa

And the pohutukawa tree was there (image small because Flickr's misbehaving; try here for bigger); it's of a kind that never blooms, which I hadn't foreseen, but it was there and it's really kind of awesome in the original sense when something you've only heard of as a legend is right there.

There was also a lighthouse and a roadsign for tourists pointing to the Equator and the South Pole and Los Angeles and Tokyo and all that; and then we drove back by another route to Paihia. We were going to have fish 'n chips at Mangonui, but as we arrived the shop was putting its price for Blue Cod up from $3.50 to $4.90 so we decided not, and cooked our own at 'home'.

On the 1st Sept Dad and my sister went out fishing and Mum and I went to Waitangi (photo!), which is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.

I think we flopped on the 2nd, but on the 3rd we went off to the kauri forest on the west coast. On the way we stopped at a puzzle museum and took photos of the owner's peacock and peahens, and then went on and saw Tane Mahuta (named for the god of the forest) which is the largest kauri tree in New Zealand. Photo here because Flickr's still misbehaving but it's bigger than the photos make it look.

Fri 4th, 10am: left Paihia, travelling back down through the place whose name I forget and Auckland and so forth.
 lunch-time: stopped at Whangarei for Dad to meet some people he's been corresponding with about genealogy. I have little interest in genealogy but managed to make small talk about their painting while we waited.
 down and down and down
 10pm stopped at the lookout over the lake near Tokaanu to phone uncle that we'd arrive in Palmerston North at midnight. (The house at Tokaanu was rented out to someone else this weekend.) The graffiti in the parking area was clearly visible in the full moon light; Dad drove partway down the driveway back to the road without headlights to prove my hypothesis that it was possible.
 A bit later stopped for Dad to say hi to his other brother in Waiouru.
 1am: arrived in Palmerston North and collapsed into bed.

Sat 5th: slept in, then used uncle's wireless all day.

Sun 6th, 7am: left Palmerston North
 9am or so: reached Wellington, waited for ferry
 10:25: ferry departed
 1:30: reached Picton. Bought makings of lunch in Blenheim and ate in a rest stop down the highway somewhere
 3 or 4pm or something: stopped for 40ish minutes at a place my sister recommended to look at seals frolicking among the water and rocks
 8pm: home in Christchurch

I've got more photos which I might edit to put up in Flickr if/when I have time; let me know of any particular requests. The half dozen I have up so far are on Flickr.
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