7th June, 2013
8th June, 2013
9th June, 2013
10th June, 2013
11th June, 2013
12th June, 2013
13th June, 2013

Friday 7th June, 2013

Drop Cap omewhat typically lately the rain cleared to a fine sunny day as we travelled from Napier south and west to Porirua, our next base, some 20kms from Wellington. The scenery was wonderful all day, starting with the green remembered hills of yesterday and then, after about half way, near Masterton, we could see the snowdusted volcanic heights we saw last across the lake from Taupo.

Drop Cap fter Masterton, Carterton and Featherstone we climbed way up into the ranges. The scenery was really (can't help it) awesome! Then we wended our way back down again via Upper Hutt to Porirua. This is a planned post-war town, haven't seen much of it yet.

Geoff Firelighting photograph

Geoff Firelighting at Ruby Holiday Home, Porirua

Drop Cap ur house, Ruby Holiday Home, was easy to find but is a bit of a dump. I suppose out of so many you can expect maybe one not so good and I think this is it. One curtain is torn and visible from the street, there is a crack in the glass front door, all the doors are battered and need painting, the washing machine only half fills, there is no drier and generally it looks quite run down. However there are heaters in all the bedrooms and a wood burning fire in the lounge.

Mac and Geoff have gone to try to find a supermarket. My knee is not getting any better. Oh well....

Saturday 8th June, 2013

Rosemary photograph

Crippled Rosemary at Porirua

Drop Cap oday, after pressure from Mac and Geoff, I finally decided to seek some medical help for my knee. The local pharmacist recommended that I go to the A & E at the local hospital, only ten minutes drive away. This was brilliant, compared with Nepean Hospital. Hardly anyone in the FREE carpark and we were seen within about 20 minutes. A 15 minute wait to see a doctor who ordered x-rays to check if there was a crack (there isn't). She prescribed a strong painkiller, said not to take Voltaren with it and gave me one to see if I would tolerate it - apparently it can cause upsets in the stomach. Then she got the nurse to bind up the knee with crepe bandages and it felt good (or reasonably so). Because we weren't NZ residents it cost us $80 which I thought was reasonable.

Drop Cap o we came home, had some lunch and went out to explore a bit. We found the I-site, got my pills made up at the pharmacy, checked the whereabouts of the laundrette and had afternoon coffee. My knee was starting to complain a bit (a lot really) so we came home to light the fire and relax.

Drop Cap e are planning to take the train into Wellington tomorrow and at least go to Te Papa, the National Museum. Mac thinks we ought to allow more time at each location but I think if we followed his ideas we would be spending years on our holidays! See how I feel tomorrow.

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Sunday 9th June, 2013

Museum photograph

Maori Artifacts at Te Papa, Wellington

Drop Cap ast night was horrendous, my leg pained unceasingly and the supposed "strong" painkillers did not appear to have much effect. I got up several times, just to move the leg a bit but nothing helped. I am sleeping so badly.

Anyway, despite this and the rain which had returned, I thought we had to do something in Wellington, so after breakfast we drove off to the station and caught a train into Wellington. It is only about 20 minutes away and a regular half hourly service. Not bad for a Sunday! A little 2-car sprinter, like in the UK.

Museum  photograph

Maori Marae at Te Papa, Wellington

Drop Cap hen we arrived in Wellington we got a cab to Te Papa, the National Museum. This is very large, six floors and so we talked to the friendly volunteer greeter and went to borrow a wheelchair. Although it made me feel really old, small and decrepit it was a godsend. We were there for about four hours and I could NOT have hacked that without it.

Museum photograph

Exterior of Te Papa, Wellington

Drop Cap e first had a very good overview tour of the highlights, a private tour just for us, led by Paul. He was very good, never stopped talking and led us all around the museum. The first level was about the shaping of the land, volcanoes and earthquakes etc. Then, prehistoric animals and finally people, all of whom reshaped the land to their own needs. The fourth level was about migrations, from the Maoris in the middle ages to the British and other European settlers in the last 200 years. Lastly a major influx which is ongoing from smaller Pacific Islands and Asia.

Museum  photograph

Bush City, Te Papa, Wellington

Drop Cap fter our tour we had lunch in the cafeteria, then wandered around to see things at our own pace. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the so-called Bush City, which was an artificial rain forest complete with waterfalls and large volcanic rocks. It overlooked the waterfront and was a lovely place to wander.

Drop Cap fter afternoon tea we tore ourselves away and caught another cab back to the station. Unfortunately I seemed to twist my knee getting into the back of the car, not used to being cramped up these days, and the knee really let me know it. We did not have to wait long for the train, then got home via the Pak n Save for some more groceries. My knee is extremely painful but I don't know what else I can do. I have sought medical advice, had an x-ray and got a prescription. If it doesn't work, what else can I do? It has been over a week, surely it should be improving by now!!!

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Monday 10th June, 2013

Drop Cap uckily I had a reasonable night's sleep last night, mainly I think because we put a slim, flat cushion under it which relieved the pressure of gravity.

When we had had breakfast Mac and Geoff took two bags of washing to the laundrette while I had a shower. They organised a service wash and dry which gave us the whole day.

Beach photograph

Boatsheds Titahi Bay, Porirua

Drop Cap e went on a car tour around Porirua to the shores of the twin harbours. Porirua is in a very picturesque setting with folded up ranges and wide sea shores, it could almost be Tasmania. At one of the beaches, Titahi Bay, the beach was littered with driftwood, tractors (for launching boats and getting them back, I think) huge gulls and a long row of colourful boatsheds, I think, looking like the beach huts they have in England.

Beach Cat photograph

264 Mac and Friend Titahi Bay

Drop Cap ere we met a neat tabby cat which came eagerly to greet us and snuggled up to Mac, so that made his day. We don't have any cats here, nor were there any at Napier. At Taupo there was no cat but there was a cat door in the back screen door, so there could have been one some time.

After meeting the cat we continued along the coast road by fairly rugged and undeveloped ways until we had circumnavigated the twin bays and were about to head back to Upper and Lower Hutt. So we turned back into town and went for lunch in the Northern Shopping Centre where we had another Coffee Club lunch, very nice too.

Lounge photograph

Lounge at Ruby Holiday Home, Porirua

Drop Cap hen we picked up the laundry and came home. My leg really prefers to be elevated so I put it up and with the sun pouring in the lounge room window, nodded off. My pills make me drowsy. But what is my excuse the rest of the time? A Chinese meal tonight at the Dynasty Restaurant, just for old times sake.

Mac saw three cats today, the one on the beach, one up the road and a little black and white one in the garden here. So he was happy.

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Tuesday 11th June, 2013

Drop Cap e had a very pleasant drive from Porirua to Wanganui today. For the most part the scenery was stunning and when Geoff navigated us off the main highway and its traffic, it was quite relaxing. So much so that I dozed a lot of the afternoon. We stopped at a town called Levin for lunch and we all succumbed to Burger King for lunch - first time in two years for Mac and me. Just a Junior Whopper, but very tasty.

Alpacas photograph

Alpacas at Sandy Hill

Drop Cap t was quite a long drive into Wanganui, which turned out to be an attractive riverside "city" with lots of colonial style buildings, iron lace verandahs etc. We did some shopping, then drove through and out the other side to find Francis Street and our accommodations for two nights, Sandy Hill Farm Cottage. This is absolutely lovely, a little purpose built cottage with three bedrooms, new bathroom, laundry, full kitchen, dining and lounge. Even outdoor furniture on the verandah for alfresco meals with a view over the farmlands and fields with grazing alpacas. These came up and stared curiously at us staring curiously at them. They are so cute. Then we made the acquaintance of two cats who came to call and snuggled up to Mac. All good.
I wish we were going to be here longer, really.

Geoff made one of his super salads while Mac prepared omelettes. The cottage is on an egg farm and they left us a dozen free range eggs and two litres of milk in the fridge. Definitely all good.

Wednesday 12th June, 2013

Cat photograph

Mac and Cat, Sandy Hill, Wanganui

Drop Cap bit of a dull start to the day as far as weather was concerned but it was brightened after breakfast when the ginger and white cat with the strange feet (I think it has one extra claw on each foot) came to call and was very affectionate. Later, Mac found pawprints over the front of the car and signs of sleepy feetsfaces. Needless to say, he did not mind!

Wanganui River photograph

Mac by the Wanganui River

Drop Cap e had quite an eclectic day today in Wanganui, and despite my knee being quite painful, I enjoyed it. We started with a visit to the I-site in a converted warehouse on the river bank. They are always so helpful. The river was very still, reflecting the bridges and strange bits of sculpture along its banks.

 Durie Hill Tunnel photograph

Foot Tunnel to Durie Hill

Drop Cap hey told us about Durie Hill, just opposite across the river. To access the garden suburb on top of the hill the founding fathers built a tunnel 200 meters long into the bottom of the hill and an elevator through the hill to the top, where there is a tower with a spiral staircase over the lift shaft and a tall (181 steps) war memorial tower made of shell fossil rock.

Durie Hill Tower photograph

Durie Hill Tower

Tower photograph

War Memorial Tower Durie Hill

Drop Cap eoff and Mac climbed the lift shaft tower and Geoff climbed the War Memorial. He says he really felt inadequate in that, while taking a breather half way up, he was passed by a man with a prosthetic leg accompanied by a dog. We had seen the man before he climbed the tower because he had walked up the umpteen steps of the elevator hill. Anyway, the view was stunning, even without the sun, and would have been even more so, with.

Virginia Lake photograph

Virginia Lake

Drop Cap fter this we moved on to Virginia Lake, a very pleasant park surrounding a lake dotted with many ducks, swans and strange floating bits of sculpture. One is a representation of a waterlily, although much bigger. Another is a solar pump which cleans and regenerates the water. They also have little artificial islands with plants which they tow around to places which need oxygenation and the plants do the job for them.

Strange Ceramics photograph

Strange Ceramics at the Winter Garden, Wanganui

Winter Garden photograph

Winter Garden Wanganui

Drop Cap here is a lovely winter garden here, incorporating strange sculptures (this seems to be a theme in Wanganui) and a glasshouse filled with brilliantly coloured banks of flowers, fountains and goldfish ponds. Really lovely.

Winter Garden photograph

Winter Garden, Wanganui

Drop Cap e had lunch in the café attached, vegetable soup with a roll for Mac and me and Geoff had a curry pie. We don't seem to have much trouble finding food which will fill without being too high in WW points, so that is always good.

Bushy Park photograph

Bushy Park Homestead, Wanganui

Drop Cap fter lunch we drove into the country to find Bushy Park, which is an historic farmhouse from the turn of the 19th Century. This is the centrepiece of an anti-predator fenced sanctuary set in one of the few remaining areas of mature coastal forest. They are resettling colonies of endangered birds and keeping track of them with electronics and banding. It was lovely forest and I really wished that I could have walked further into the forest.

Bushy Park Bedroom photograph

Bedroom at Bushy Park, Wanganui

Drop Cap till it was nice and the old house was great too. Lovely stained glass and a columned verandah. It does bed and breakfast too but there were not any guests in residence today so they let us see the bedrooms. They looked great. Mac got a brochure of their prices and they were quite reasonable, but it seems unlikely that we will return any time soon.

Bushy Park photograph

Stained Glass at Bushy Park Homestead, Wanganui

Drop Cap e had devonshire tea in the drawing room, a lovely room dominated by the rotunda shaped windows and the stunning view. The interior of the house was lovely with expanses of spectacular stained glass in the entrance hall which really started the house tour off with a bang. I would not mind coming back here.

Thursday 13th June, 2013

Fields Track photograph

Misty Morning on Fields Track

Drop Cap nother drizzly grey day as we said goodbye to our lovely little cottage. We all said we would have liked a longer stay but time constraints prevail.

We headed for Tongariro and, to the dismay of the GPS lady, turned off the highway onto Fields Track, which sounded terribly wild but it was a perfectly viable sealed road and the passing scenery was "O for Awesome" as the Kiwi expression has it. It was wild, remote and beautiful, hills and deep valleys, some gorges formed by the burbling streams running at their feet. We stopped to photograph one scene, with a hill topped by one large tree, surrounded by cloud-topped hills and misty valleys. It was a lovely run.

Gorge Train photograph

Train Going over Matahoke Gorge Viaduct

Drop Cap e had lunch at a café in Okahune, a ski village full of (at the moment) empty ski lodges and backpacker dorms. There is a little snow on the tops of the mountains but not enough to ski on yet.

Moving along towards Tongariro we stopped to photograph a stunning railway viaduct constructed in 1906. It was across quite a high gorge of the Matahoke River. As we were looking at it we had the good luck actually to see a train crossing it. I had gone back to the car and put my camera away but Geoff got some photos. The passengers were clearly in excursion mode as they were all peering out the windows and waving.

Chateau Tongariro photograph

Chateau Tongariro Exterior

Drop Cap nyway, we arrived at the village where the Chateau Tongariro stands at about 2 p.m. We went to the visitor centre and looked at the exhibits about volcanoes and conservation. The last eruption of Tongariro was in November, 2012!. Then we went up the ski trail to the foot of the ski lift. There was more snow here making its way down with the assistance of heavy duty snow ploughs and the temperature outside the car dropped to 4 deg. C

Hotel lounge photograph

Chateau Tongariro Lounge

Drop Cap e made our way gingerly back to the Chateau and checked in with the cheerful help of the reception and porter staff. We have two elegant adjoining doubles with ensuites and great views of the mountains. We have made a reservation for the swish Ruapehu Room for dinner. We will change for dinner and go down to sit by the fire in the lounge. More later.


Chateau Tongariro Fireplace photograph

Lounge at Chateau Tongariro

Drop Cap e went down and had a glass of wine in the lounge and chatted until time for our dinner reservation. This was very good. Mac and I shared a plate of breads with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar and dukkah to dip it in. Geoff started with clam and crab bisque. Then I had rack of lamb, Mac had chicken with couscous and dates etc, Geoff had roast pork. We shared a bottle of rose and Mac had a citrus tart, Mac and Geoff had liqueurs and coffee, I just had espresso. So to bed. Mac is already snoring. Hope I will too. Tomorrow we head to New Plymouth to start our last week.

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