Wed March 16, 2016, Adelaide to Auckland.|
Warm all day. Left home at 8.30 am, left Adelaide airport at 11.40 am. Took the usual photo at the Australian made store. No free food on plane so bought a bagel with cream cheese and jam-stale and dry with no butter. How hard is it to get a sandwich right? At Auckland airport I was twice targeted by a sniffer dog because I'd had a banana in my handbag. He jammed his head hard down into my handbag. Got a taxi to Hotel in city- $94. Went out to tea at Da Vinci's-good Italian. Bought some breakfast from Countdown (Woolworths). Everything expensive. Slept OK but it was hot as you couldn't open windows.
Thursday March 17th, Auckland.
Cloudy and warm, rain in evening. Walked down to Victoria St bus stop to catch bus to Museum, with difficulty re routes. It was also the war Memorial museum. Cost us $90 for the Maori tour.
Excellent Maori displays and the performance was entertaining. Ate at the museum cafe which was surprisingly good. Caught bus back and later to tea at Lord Nelson's restaurant about 2 doors up the street for my birthday. I had lamb crown roast and Peter had chicken chilli curry. The presentation and service were poor but the food excellent. For dessert we had 3 brandy snaps-$100 in all and one of the better meals we've had. We were going for a walk to the waterfront but it was raining hard.
Friday, March 18, 2016 Auckland.
Cloudy but warm. Woke up 9 am after restless night- too noisy with air conditioner on and too hot without. Walked to the Sky tower, saw a girl do a sky dive, visited floors 51 and 60, took photos. Back thru the shop and bought our entry photo-$25 but not bad.
More walking to the wharf to pier one and bought return tickets to Devonport across water. It was very pretty with lovely flowers and pot plants all along the main street. Lots of cafes but ate at a good, simple fish and chip shop in main street. Caught ferry, then back to hotel with aching feet. Had a rest and then out to tea across the road to Elliott Stables- trendy and glamorous.
1.President Hotel, Best Western, Victoria Street, Auckland, 3 nights
Saturday, March 19, Auckland to Whangarei.
2.Bella Vista Motel, Western Hill Drive, Whangarei 2 nightsMonday, March 21, 2016 Whangarei to Paihia
Drove to the town basin to clock museum. There were many nice souvenir shops and cafes which we could have gone to the previous night. The buildings were wooden plank and reminded me of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, but even prettier. The clock museum had charming old clocks of all sorts.
From there drove to the glowworm caves which were excellent. The worst part was the bush walk afterwards to get back to car-100 steps up and then 100 down. We were hungry so went to nearest town, Kawakawa. Fortunately I remembered that this was the place with the mosaic toilets.
They were fantastic and there was also a lovely mosaic park. We wanted to go to the Waitangi treaty grounds and just made it in time for the 3.30 pm cultural display and 4 pm guided tour. Both were well done but exhausting. Finally we drove to the Kingsgate hotel. It was pleasant though not as roomy as our previous places. Ate at the hotel -advertised as if it was a big deal for that night only-carvery $35 each. Setting lovely, food mediocre. They did have a cheese plate, good tea and ice cream but the meat course was cold pork and dessicated chicken shasliks. The staff were friendly and service OK but they were charging far too much for what was provided. Went for a walk down the street after tea. Tuesday March 22nd, Paihia. Cloudy and damp.
Up a bit earlier and went over to book a boat trip. The heritage trip was cancelled so we booked the 2 hour trip for 11 am, boat arriving at 10.45 am. Had a look around town and went back to ferry terminal to catch the boat but that trip was cancelled too because of weather, and our money refunded. She gave us free ferry tickets to Russell. Trip across to Russell was still quite rough. Lots of Swedes on board. Went straight to Russell Museum and got a joint ticket for Pompallier mission. Had lunch at New York cafe after museum and just made it to Pompallier as a tour started. Guide was a Scottish lady, hard to hear and understand. The mission interesting-printed Maori religious material-40,000 plus books produced in 10 years.
Wandered around a bit more then caught ferry back (on the hour) with the travelling Swedes. Went to tea at Indian/Thai restaurant run by Saman whose brother runs a place in Moseley Square, Glenelg.
3.Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge, Paihia, 2 nightsWednesday March 23rd, Kinsgate to Papakura
Left just after 9 am headed south of Auckland and feeling a bit anxious as we hadn't booked. Stopped to see the awesome giant Kauri tree and had lunch at Dargaville. Drove for a long time and linked up with north then southern freeway around Auckland. It took at least 2 hours-so slow and thousands of cars- many other roads linking in so as fast as one group exited freeway, a new group entered. We were starting to get panicky and found a motel at Drury, exit 461. That was full as was next, but finally stopped at Monument Motor Lodge- a very small motel but quite nice and clean. As it was now late we went out to a Chinese restaurant for tea-Red Ruby-a cute little boy about 2 years was watching his ipad. We had a small banquet-lots of food and very hot. Went to Countdown across road, got a bread roll and some milk for breakfast. Back to motel, Peter booked motels for next few nights and Easter-up to March 30. Very tense effort, but got there.
4.Monument Motor Lodge, Great South Road, Papakura (Auckland) 1 nightThursday, March 24 Papakura to Cambridge
Headed for Hamilton. It was motorway most of the way but GPS didn't know about it and kept sending us the wrong way back to Auckland. Sadly, Peter's Auntie in Hamilton had moved to a nursing home in Auckland, down the road from where we had stayed the night before! It was disappointing not to meet her but we didn't know when or if we would make it there. The town looked ordinary as Lonely Planet said, so headed for Cambridge. Lovely countryside. In Cambridge ate at Stone cafe. The waitress kept saying 'pardon?' while we were ordering. I think she was having a go at our Australian accent. They served the ham sandwiches on breadboards... At the now open tourist info place
we got lots of brochures but the woman couldn't tell us anything about Rotorua, one of the most famous places in NZ and only an hour's drive away, go figure. We walked around town and found our motel which looked VERY basic. Had a rest before tea. On our way out Peter asked if the room was the executive room and the 'manager' got extremely defensive. He asked what was wrong with it. We said it was OK just not quite what we expected. (Might have had something to do with the plain brown bedspread, super basic furnishing, minimal space, pocket sized plastic bathroom) What did we expect? We didn't say any more. It was more like a basic hostel than a motel. For tea we went to the Hotel Albert-an old English style pub in the main street. It was run by Indians once again-so many eating places had been so far. We walked along the main street and went into The Warehouse a half hour before it closed. It was an interesting shop, not cheap. Saw a sign listing all the winners of the Melbourne Cup that had been bred around Cambridge, including Brew with Kerrin McEvoy.
Friday, March 25th, Good Friday, Cambridge
Had breakfast in guest kitchen at motel/hostel-that was a bonus. Left soon for Rotorua. There we went to the visitor centre where a sensible assistant sold us a ticket to Te Puia, 10 mins down the road. There were dozens of different packages and tours available. At Te Puia we got an hour guided tour which was good. Saw the geysers, coloured water, bubbling mud and kiwis.
Our guide was of the tribe which owned the land. Had another expensive lunch at the cafe and then drove around town and to a park we had seen coming in.
There were fenced off areas all over the place and steam rising from all of them. Some had mud. The whole town was fascinating and scary. Drove back to Cambridge. Tirau on the way was full of tourists and there was a huge lineup of cars.
At tea, lots of places closed but we ended up at the Oasis Cafe, Cambridge. It was excellent.
Saturday, March 26, Cambridge|
There was a farmers' market in Victoria Square. Tried on clothes at several shops-only top I liked was $265 so gave it a miss. Peter managed to find a jeweller to change the battery in his watch. There were heaps of people about sitting in the sun at all the cafes. The number of women's clothes shops was amazing. Left town by car to drive to Sanctuary Mountain. The address the brochure gave was not accepted by the GPS. Ended up at the right park, just the back end, not the entrance. Followed the road back to Cambridge past a lovely lake and lots of parks. Went across the street from the motel to the art gallery and it was paintings and books by the 2 men who had been at the table next to us at breakfast. One of them was the husband of the lady who we heard saying Australians have big mouths. She was outraged that Australia was sending back New Zealanders who had been convicted of crimes in Australia. They were just going to commit crimes in NZ now! From there went for a walk around to the park and river. Many lovely trees-English oaks, chestnuts, maples.
5.No 1 Motels, Victoria Street, Cambridge (Near Hamilton) 3 nights- (Easter)Sunday, March 27, Easter Sunday-Cambridge to Napier
Ate in hotel kitchen again. Packed up quickly and left at 8.55 am. Drove to Wai-o-tapu where the coloured lakes are.
It was very impressive and well run. Spectacular. From there drove to Haku Falls-we had trouble finding them and tried several different spots. Hard to find a park so we drove on to Taupo, a lovely place-drove around the beautiful Lake Taupo and then on to Napier. It was a strenuous and winding drive for Peter. We found motel easily and it was in town. Went out for a walk and to look at art. Lots of public art everywhere and so many flowers. It is an art deco town rebuilt because of an earthquake in 1930s.
We ate at the Station (old railway station). It was excellent. The hotel room was $150 and very small.
6. Bella Vista Motel, cnr Vautier and Hastings Streets, Napier 1 nightMonday, March 28 Napier to Wellington.
Had a look at Marine Parade with the Maori maiden statue and went along the small jetty. The surf was strong and the beach round, black pebbles. Gardens were spectacular. Drove along water edge road and saw old houses, small and cute, and many huge macmansions. Drove to Norsewood first. There was so much farming-apple orchards of every kind-trees, espaliers, small espaliers like grape vines and vegetables everywhere too. It looked rich and luxurious. Most amazing thing was gigantic hedges of full sized trees-some kind of NZ pine in many cases.
At Norsewood visited cute museum and shops-tiny but interesting.
Lady in info centre had no info and no interest-don't know why she was there. The house museum was excellent with a beautiful wedding dress decorated with real beetles that looked like sequins.
Drove on to Dannevirke. Apart from the sign at the start of town it had no Danish culture. Ate at a Thai cafe in main street and had a look at graveyard. Reached Wellington after anxiety about correct road-got the highway right-traffic was moving 1 car at a time for about an hour before it all cleared. I think it is caused by highways going thru small country towns where the locals use the crossings all the time and stop the cars. Saw an amazing van on the road ahead.
Wellington came up very beautifully on the water. Found Quest after a huge effort-it was old MLC building on a V shaped corner of several streets and not well explained by address. Had tea at a Chinese restaurant, Jasmine. It was elegant but food ordinary. Back to room and wrestled with the washing machine.
Tuesday, March 29, Quest Wellington.
Moved car to the car park at the end of the street for $30 for a day. Walked to the museum but it didn't open until 10am so continued around to parliament. Just made a tour at 10 am. It was very good and we decided to come back for question time. Walked back to near hotel to the cable car. The girl attendant there informed us there was a 50 min wait in line so we found a supermarket, bought sandwiches for lunch and went back to room to have them. My feet were really sore so we had a short rest and then went back to parliament via a protest about water quality.
It was impossible to avoid cameras. Question time was good as was seeing the politicians but I kept going to sleep and so did Peter. I'm sure a politician saw me asleep because he was talking to his neigbour and they were both looking directly up at me. After that we went back towards the hotel, stopping off at the Wellington museum. It was ordinary. Had a look at a German beer hall restaurant and other places along the quay. Back to room and then went out but didn't like choice at Munchen so tried other trendy restaurants, stopping at D4. An amazing amount of public art everywhere.
7.Quest, Cnr Hunter and Lambton Quay, Wellington 2 nightsWednesday, March 30 Wellington to Picton by ferry
Peter got car while I waited with luggage on footpath. We had some time before the ferry, so drove around Wellington harbour. There were many lovely wooden houses. Tried to use the GPS to go to Victoria lookout but ended up on the motorway around town through about 4 impressive tunnels. It was kms away and too complicated so headed back to the ferry terminal where we had to return car. It was a long wait inside the terminal but we quite enjoyed watching other people and did some planning about what we should do in the South Island.
Arrived at Picton at about 6 pm and Peter went to get the next hire car while I got luggage. As usual it was a struggle as they weren't expecting us until April 1, even though Peter had emailed them with the exact date when they mentioned April 1 in a previous email. Hotel looked fine from outside but was run down close up. It wasn't very clean although bed looked OK. Disabled shower. Peter booked hotel for Kaikoura before tea and for Mt Cook when we got back. Ate at a trendy hotel in town-Ospreys-very good. Place was fitted out with boating artefacts and had a wavy blue green corrugated iron ceiling. Walked back to hotel and bought breakfast at a 4 square store on way.
8.Yacht Club Motel, Waikawa Road, Picton 1 nightThursday March 31, Picton to Kaikoura
Had breakfast and walked around Picton's rather classy shops, bought a book. Drove to harbour to maritime museum. Information centre was packed so we walked over to the aquarium and managed to find the museum from there. We found signs would go so far in NZ and then just before the destination there'd be nothing. Apparently an ocean liner with 6000+ passengers was in Picton. Museum cost us $15 each but was very interesting and we got to see the fabulous old boat, Edwin Fox, which looked like the City of Adelaide-even had copper covered wood to protect from worms. It was made in India and I found on internet was one of the "Moulmein boats" which is an interesting family connection to Capt Daniel Tapley.
Drove around town some more then headed for Blenheim. That looked much bigger but more ordinary than expected. Lots of wine tours and fruit. Went to aircraft museum and saw some lovely old planes in paddocks. $30 ea for entry so we left. Saw a plane take off.
Drove to Marlborough Museum which we had seen advertised along the way. It was $10 each and quite good with a great wine display, some nice objects and old dresses. Drove on down coast towards Kaikoura-a rather run down surfie looking town with lots of seedy motels. The motel was on the outskirts of town and OK with a small kitchen. Owner was Dutch and had been in NZ for 40 years but not naturalised. Commented on New Zealanders being sent back from Australia. This seems to be a big deal. Went into town for tea at the Adelphi hotel. It looked good but was very cold because the front was all open. Lots of light came in back door at motel in night.
9. Kaikoura Mediterranean Motel, Beach Road, Kaikoura 1 nightFriday, April 1, 2016 Kaikoura to Woodend near Christchurch
Decided that we would go into Christchurch in case we ran out of time at the end of the trip. Stopped at Leith beach for a look-it was black pebbles again though some sand on the way to beach. We wondered if all beaches are black? Ate at a very glamorous cafe, Pukuka Junction. Served tea in a pot with extra pot of hot water, just like we used to do in Australia. Bought a poster of doors. Headed for Wilsons Rd, Sydenham, Christchurch. House was very ordinary and brand new and most in the area had been damaged. That was one familial link gone. Next was Barbadoes Road Cemetery. The cemetery was on 2 sides of the road-more like a park, and most gravestones were hardly readable. It went on forever and we did not have details of where the graves were. I should have come prepared. Peter drove through town centre then and it was devastating to see the destruction. A lot has been built but the place is an utter mess. Had trouble finding our motel which we had passed on the way in, because the address given on the brochure was wrong again. Peter went berko trying to find accommodation near Mt Cook. We finally thought of the camping ground motels as recommended by Ernst, and were able to get a place there. Looked up Sharpes and it seems they are buried in plots 776,777 at Barbadoes Rd.
10. Pegasus Gateway Motel, Main North Road, Rangiora 1 nightSaturday April 2, 2016, Woodend to Timaru
Weather was very bleak, misty and raining and we debated because of the distance, but finally decided we would go to Akaroa to see French Farm Garden and meet the Tichbornes, Tapley relatives, if they were at home. The drive wound round hills and the countryside was uninteresting and dry at first, but when we reached coastal areas the sea was right next to the road. Scenery became more and more spectacular with deep valleys.
The garden was before Akaroa so we went there first. Of course, it was "closed today." We had a look around then drove to the town around the bay. The place was gorgeous with a strong French influence. Many tourists. There were beautiful wooden houses with pretty cottage gardens in front.
Bought some pies and ate in car in main street before going to Rue Balguerie to see if our relatives were home. They were, and in the middle of lunch, but invited us in and we stayed for a cup of tea. They were lovely and the house was so pretty. Nancy showed us her latest watercolour painting.
I mentioned Peter's cousin in Dunedin and she said her sister had worked at Otago University too. We left and drove to Timaru to the Grosvenor hotel in the centre of town. It was very old but the place had been done up inside and our room was quite pleasant though hardly a "studio." We had tea at the hotel. Later walked around the streets and found some lovely buildings and a long, long main street with many interesting shops.
11.The Grosvenor Hotel, Cains Terrace, Timaru 1 nightSunday April 3, 2016, Timaru to Oamaru
Lovely scenery on drive to Oamaru. Parked in main street near foreshore and walked towards all the activity.
There were art and craft stalls and a market. Decided on a trip on the train in an hour so looked for somewhere to eat-there were many trendy and expensive places but finally found a young man selling bacon butties and sausages on bread. Had one each. The place was fantastically beautiful and cared for by the white stone trust. The motel was in Thames Street, the usual Bella Vista place. It was OK but their stairs are so steep and unnecessary-they could have built decent shallow steps as these Bella Vista places are not that old. Washed a load of clothes-$4 plus $2 for drying. Were going out for tea but the cafes had such way out food that my stomach started rolling over and I felt sick. Got supplies and cooked our own. One of those down holiday times when you wish you were home. The room was cosy with a blanket that we could use instead of a duna. Slept OK but I had to black out TV, microwave and computers again. We need plenty of black tape or bits of cardboard or the rooms are bright as day with electronic devices.
12.Bella Vista Motel, Thames St, Oamaru 1 nightMonday, April 4, 2016 Oamaru to Dunedin
Weather slightly better-a bit of sun. Drove towards Dunedin. Looked at Matanaka-the oldest farm in NZ. Old buildings on hills overlooking the sea. Took photo of white horse. Continued to Dunedin but stopped at a strange place, Eastvale, to buy cheese. The person serving was generous with tasting-chopped bits off about 6 hunks. We bought a brie and a small jar of apricot jam. The place was a former institution. Apparently there were a thousand people there, inmates and staff. Continued to Dunedin. Parked in street off main road and went through Otago's first church. It was very fine and lady friendly. Had lunch in main street in Sugar cafe. Re-parked for another hour and went to spectacular railway station.
From there to AA to get some maps and then drove to motel. Peter said politely, "We're booked in for the night. " She said, "Well tell me who you are and I might be able to help." She was so rude. It was more like a flat than a motel. Internet didn't work. Had a tea and coffee and I rang Peter's relative since there was a local phone book. He had gone to Auckland but had received our email. Maybe he could have replied if he didn't want to meet us! Nancy's sister lived in the same street, opposite them! How's that for an unbelievable coincidence? Oh well, we still had my side of the family to investigate. We GPSed with difficulty out to the Anderson Bay Cemetery and found Harold Livingston Tapley's grave. As a former mayor and MP he had a fine pillar overlooking the sea.
In evening had to walk a long way to find anywhere open for tea. Finally stopped at Black Dog Cafe way uptown. It was good. Walk home was freezing -had a bad sneezing fit. Still no kind of internet. Flat cold.
Tuesday April 5, Dunedin.
Grey and misty but no wind or rain After bad sleep left for Lanarch Castle about 9.30 am. The place had magnificent gardens and a most interesting story of a sad family. The first owner shot himself and eventually so did his lawyer son. There was a lot of bitterness re inheritance. The building was very fine, and rooms weren't fenced off.
The gardens were beautiful and we walked several of the trails. Lunch was had in the ballroom cafeteria. The castle visit cost $30 each but was well worth it.
From there we drove home, had a rest and then walked into town to the settlers museum. It was a very long walk again. The museum was excellent and free and I even found a bit more information about H. Livingstone Tapley in the genealogy section. Then we were in a dilemma as my feet were killing me and it was too early for tea. We had a look in a couple of souvenir shops, walked around a bit more and finally had early tea at a cafe. After that we ended up walking home, back to the death defying steps at the Manor Motel. Watched TV and went to bed-quite a comfy bed, especially when the blanket was the right way around.
13. Manor Motel, 22 Manor Pl, Dunedin-2 nightsWednesday, April 6, Dunedin to Ranfurly
Overcast but no rain. Left just after 9.15am and looked for a letter box. Later found one on a pole and concluded they were not signed at all well. Posted my 6 postcards. We argued about the GPS and the right road to take as usual but headed first to Palmerston and then to Ranfurley where we went to the info centre and found out about Naseby, a historic goldmining village. All the maps said there wasn't a bitumen road but there was. We had a good look at the museum
and all the buildings and were astounded by the huge trees near the oval.
I bought a water at the shop where they were repairing clothes in a sort of sewing circle-said it had proven to be quite a good business as people needed stuff fixed up all the time. Back at Ranfurly we went to the motel/caravan park and got our motel unit aka cabin or tin shed. It was quite nice apart from all the things that didn't work. Had tea at the hotel and it was OK. Back to the cabin and trying to keep warm. Clothes running out.
14.Ranfurly Holiday Park, cnr Pery and Reade Streets, Ranfurly-1 nightThursday, April 7, Ranfurly to Queenstown
Overcast and rain in evening. Headed for Queenstown. Drove through beautiful countryside of varying kind. Stopped at small town of Clyde. There were an amazing number of cyclsits using an old railway line path.
It was very lovely-old buildings in a great state of preservation and lots of fancy craft shops and souvenir shops. From there we headed to Cromwell which was another gold town. The town is modern but they had a good reconstruction of the old town taken over by the dam.
Ate at a cafe. Lots of silly food. Drove on to Queenstown and got there about 2.45 pm. Found motel easily using GPS. I did 2 loads of washing but while I was away someone put a load in the one dryer and left it on for 40 mins so I had to keep going back again and again with 2 bags of wet clothes to see if the dryer was available. In the end the dryer stopped so I took the stuff out and put mine in. The things in there would have been dry in about 10 mins, there were so few. Eventually the owner came to collect them and looked put out. I said I checked it was all there and that it had been going for 40 mins. They must have known someone with 2 loads of washing on was going to need the dryer and selfishly left their stuff on anyway. After I had done most of the ironing we walked into town using the map our friendly hostess had supplied. It is a very glamorous place with high end shops. We ate at the Pub on the wharf and sat at a table with 2 people who had just been on a 4 day luxury walk to Milford sound with their family-a Xmas present. They were dairy farmers and were from the Bay of Plenty. They had 500 milking cows. We got a taxi back to the motel-it only took about 2 minutes. Watched TV and finished ironing.
Friday, April 8, Queenstown.
Misty in morning but cleared to fine afternoon Cold night. Walked down to town along the same path and looked in shops on way but had to hurry to book boat trip to a farm on only remaining coal powered boat in southern hemisphere, the Earnslaw.
Lots of people- left at 10am On arrival we saw how beautiful it was with a white wooden building surrounded by flowers. We were met by a shepherd with a stick and 3 lovely sheep dogs, Ken, Belle and Sue. Belle was the youngest. Taken to the shearing shed, a little of the history and then shore a fat lamb. The fleece is only worth $10 but they shear the sheep to make them grow-they eat a lot to keep warm and this helps the farmer. The dogs put on a great display of rounding up the sheep and we had morning tea-date and cheese scones and 3 kinds of cake cut into tiny slices. It was relaxed and pleasant.
Most of the people on the boat had opted for the BBQ lunch. After that another young man took us around the animals- sheep of several varieties, llamas, Scottish cattle with long tongues and red deer.
They were all lovely. The new cattle dog, Leo was 3 yo and still learning. The boat arrived and we caught it back to Queenstown. On the way we sat opposite a young Chinese couple who both spoke excellent English. She worked for an airline and had majored in Japanese at university and he worked for a German telecommunications company. He gets 15 days holiday a year but doesn't have time to take it while most people only get 5 days a year. Back in town the sun was shining and it was beautiful with stalls and art for sale all over the wharf. We wandered around, had a small McDonalds meal, got some groceries and walked back to the hotel. After 7pm we returned to town and had a good Chinese meal at the Lakeside Palace Chinese Restaurant. Caught a taxi back. The driver didn't say a word, angry because of the short distance but brochure said they are expected to do these runs because of steep hills. It isn't hard money for them. Watched TV. 'Free' internet not working again.
15.Queenstown Motel Apartments, Frankton Road, Queenstown 2 nightsSaturday, April 9 Queenstown to Omarama
Headed directly to Omarama. It was a small, wild west sort of place with expensive but lovely souvenirs at the modern cafe-the usual merino at outrageous prices.
Went to Top 10 camp to cabin. Relaxed in afternoon sun and a black kitten came and sat on my knee-so cute. Walked around park and then to hotel for tea. We ate quickly because so many people were looking for a table. Back to cabin and tried to skype Michael-soon ran out of internet access. Has found it hard work feeding cats.
16.Top 10 Holiday Park, Omarama Ave, Omarama 1 night
Sunday, April 10, Omarama to Mt Cook- Lovely sunny day.|
Molly, the kitten, was back for breakfast and saw us off from the verandah. We soon spotted Mt Cook.
Arrived at 11.30 am, looked at info centre and then checked to see if our room was ready. They said maybe at 2 pm. We had lunch at the only cafe. I took my inedible, salty, tomato soup back. We walked around the paths, checked souvenir shop, bought postcards, booked a table for the evening- opted for the $65 buffet, nervously. Booked a stargazing tour for 8.30pm. When we returned to the reservation desk at 2 pm he said that no room was ready still. We were getting pretty p-ed off by this time because there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, unless you wanted to sit around drinking expensive wine or coffee, so we just waited while he tapped away checking the computer. In the end he upgraded us and when we walked around to our room, you could see why it takes a long time to clean because there were 100s of rooms. I'll bet all the tour bus rooms were available early, however! I was starting to feel like the difficult tourist but it costs a lot so you expect to be able to get into your room, especially since they are very adamant that you must be out by 10 am. Anyway, the upgraded room had a lovely view of the mountain and a shelf above the basin for your toiletry bags, built into the wall! Yay!
It was the first hotel that had it, together with a luggage rack that fitted 2 suitcases. Well done. Someone had actually done their homework in the whole of hotel-accommodation-land. The buffet tea at 6.25 pm was crowded. I chose cold meats first and they were good-nice salami and ham etc. There was a whole side of the buffet devoted to sea food as usual-us non seafood persons should be able to deduct $20 instead of subsidising all the greedy buggers who eat mountains of prawns and crayfish. I lined up for the roast and 'chef' was on the last of the lamb. He cut off the thick bit at the end of the bone and I shuddered as I thought he was going to give me that but he reached down and got a new leg of lamb. You beauty, I thought, then he proceeded to carve off 2 gigantic fatty hunks from the end of the meat and slopped them on my plate. I thought I'd better not make any more complaints as he grudgingly poured over some gravy. The desserts looked good, little meringues, tarts and cakes cut into tiny serves, but no cream or icecream. Most of the customers were US or Chinese. Service poor. At 8.15 pm lined up for the stargazing. After a planetarium lecture we were given a padded coat, got on a bus and drove through the deep darkness. It was thrilling. At the site we stood next to the bus on a strip of concrete where 4 telescopes were set up. Looking through them all I could see were bigger blobs of light. The naked sky itself was beautiful. After an hour in the cold we bussed back-great experience.
17.The Hermitage, Mount Cook Aoraki, 1 nightMonday April 11, Mt Cook to Ashburton.
Cold, windy and overcast. Mt Cook was invisible from room and from outside too-just not there. Drove towards Ashburton and the view was spectacular, particularly the colour of the water of Lake Pukaki. It was like green milk and very choppy.
Stopped at Geraldine for a bad lunch at a cafe when a busload of Americans arrived. It was hard to get a simple good lunch. Arrived at next Bella Vista Motel about 1.30 pm. They had a gorgeous black and white cat.
Rested and drove into town to get supplies. Went to a Countdown store where they had about a thousand slices of pre cut meat sitting there getting stale-just like Woolworths at home. We drove around looking for somewhere to eat (that's our main occupation on holiday) and finally saw a bar and bistro about 500 m from hotel so walked there at tea time. They had made an effort with sporting memorabilia and wood panels. The waitresses were annoyingly officious in cleaning the tables and bringing out the food, not in a nice way. Motel bed OK and light too after I had taped over the large microwave readout facing the bed
18. Bella Vista Motel, 469 West Street, Ashburton 1 nightTuesday, April 12, Ashburton to Christchurch
Left about 9.45am straight to Christchurch. Not a pretty part of the country. Went to public library which wasn't far from the motel. The helpful librarian showed me the cemetery map, the card index and the tombstone inscriptions from Barbadoes Cemetery. I photographed the index cards and other material. We had lunch at the Southside Mall then drove to the Cemetery. We now knew the tombstone was at the tip of the peak of the road behind the cemetery so started looking near a lych gate. Peter finally found 2 graves right next to the gate.
We took photos and then drove to the motel which looked like a bunch of boxes. It was built after the earthquake and was pleasant and comfortable inside. The town looks better than it did the first time but the amount of building going on is amazing. We had a rest then went out for quite a long walk to check out restaurants. In the end we had the carvery special at the Casino. It was $20 each and you could have 2 meats and the dish of the day together with roast veges and salads but you couldn't go back for more-it all had to fit on your plate. There was beef, chicken and beef stroganoff. It was all very good. For dessert we shared a pear and chocolate tart and that was superb-very rich but sublime, probably one of the best desserts I've ever had. We also had coffee and I had a pot of tea with hot water. It was all served beautifully. Had a terrible night because our room had 2 very bright lights on either side outside our door blazing at about 1000 watts all night long. I was up and down like a yo yo. I found that the bedspread was actually the duna that we were going to sleep under, started worrying about bed bugs and itched for hours. We took the duna out of the cover and had that on but it was too hot. The rooms are quite well insulated because apparently it went down to 2°C.
Wednesday, April 13, Christchurch
Woke up fairly late after a restless night. I checked Trip Adviser and some people had written exactly what I would have-that there are thick black curtains on the back wall so why have all the light coming in the front? Room was quite well appointed and neat but certainly not luxurious although there were a couple of nice touches like the stand in the bathroom on which to put toiletries, a teapot and coffeepot, 2 chocolates. After breakfast we set off for town, passing the jubilee memorial again. We saw some beautiful buildings fenced off and walked past Christchurch College.
We went through the museum which had a lovely collection of glassware and china,
and lots of Maori scenes. They also spoke about the Moriori people who may have settled the Chatham Islands from NZ but were originally the same kind of people as Maori though they had developed a more peaceful culture. The Maori killed them and enslaved them in 1835 or so. After the museum went into the botanic gardens next door and took the caterpillar tour for $20 each. It was pretty good with lots of details about the trees and plantings but the guide needed a laser pointer like they had at Mt Cook. We had a look at the rose garden and the conservatory where there were huge blooms on an insectivore plant.
Walked further into town to get lunch and ended up at the container mall, Restart.
Had very expensive toasted sandwiches and continued past the beautiful but possibly doomed cathedral
to the cardboard church which was impressive-it did cost about $8.3 million so it wasn't that economical.
By now my feet were hot and sore so we got a cab back to the motel for $13.50. Had a rest and then went out for pizza. It was a strange, trendy place without enough tables. The pizza was try hard and we had to wait ages.
19.Bellano Motel Suites, 77 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch, 2 nightsThursday, April 14th, Christchurch to home
Set off for the airport just before 10 am. I had slept a lot better as I had jammed the black fluffy rug from the end of the bed into the doorway, thus cutting out the blazing light from outside, but rug only reached down three quarters of the way. We found the airport without much trouble and returned the Europcar. The desk was inside the terminal so we had to go there to find out about our missing mount for the GPS that we had left at Wellington when we caught the ferry. The girl knew nothing about it, of course, despite all the emails Peter had sent, but asked what kind of GPS it was, went outside and got a mount from one of their own Garmin and gave it to us. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I suspect hundreds of people do the same thing. We had to wait until 1 pm to check in to Virgin Australia. We sat at a table for a long time reading before taking our cases in. They were still under the limit and checked thru to Adelaide. We had a hamburger and then went through customs without any trouble at Auckland. On the flight we were sitting next to a bald young man in a tight blue suit who had 3 devices going the whole way, texting and talking and didn't so much as say hi once. What a moron. I don't care if he was busy or not, he was just rude.
At Melbourne we wandered around finding our luggage and then tried to see where we could pass it in via transit but some rude Virgin woman said they didn't have that there so we had to line up with hundreds of other Virgin customers and just put our luggage through in the usual way. Truly cattle class travel. Arrived before 9 pm. it was good to be home and picked up by Michael.
With many thanks to Sue and John for their terrific tips and an itinerary which we followed quite closely.
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