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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cheers New Zealand!

Here are my thoughts on this lovely place...
There is a real sense of economy and stewardship that I felt wherever I was in NZ. They are very much aware that they are an island, with limited resources and a delicate eco system. For example, each and every plug/socket could have the power turned off when not in use, genius!
The whole country is also well set up for travelers. Every little town or city has an icenter (information booth), public toilets (well maintained, clean and sometimes even works of art, I shit you not!) and a Backpackers (hostel). The bus system was inexpensive (Naked Bus) and efficient.
The climate is temperate, which means really beautiful NZ produce is available all year round. I ate a barrel full of fabulous apples I think!
As I head to Australia today, I took some time yesterday to deep clean my hiking boots and running sneakers. Being mindful as you travel, that invasive species can decimate indigenous species is a good step (literally here) in the conservation direction.
OK, off to Perth!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

From Linton to Napier

As money is finite for this trip I decided to try to find WWOOF accommodations when I could. In Linton NZ I was taken in by the lovely Joan to help on her farm, which is basically an animal sanctuary. It's winter here so my tasks were more upkeep oriented, but AOK when you get to hang with this brood. There is a peacock...
Roxie, one of the six dogs...and my favorite...don't tell the others....
One of the two goats. One of my tasks was goat proofing the fence because of this escape artist.
A whole bunch of chooks. That's chickens to us non New Zealanders.
Their freshly laid eggs became a part of a pasta I made...#notvegan.
I also contributed a little hummus and caper roasted vegetables to a mezze/tapas night.
After Linton I headed to Napier in Hawkes Bay. The beach is 100 yards from the hostel. Gorgeous weather.
I wandered a lot, ran along the beach and even rented a bike one day for a fun ride by the local vineyards.

Freshly made doughnut from Mr D's in Napier, that you inject with the filling of your choosing...chocolate here.
Did I mention there were also 2 cats and 4 cows in Linton?
And marmite is now a favored toast topping. B vitamins and umami....and toast!
I'm back in Wellington now for a few days, then fly to Perth Australia on Monday!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oh Bay! (of Islands and of Plenty)

One of the best things about traveling is the friends you make along the way. Jacki and Greg  (friends of friends) hosted me in Opua, in The Bay of Islands north of Auckland.
She was also a fantastic guide with a crazy deep knowledge of the area. She took me tramping about for a day to historic whaling and trade spots. Somewhat reminiscent of Massachusetts, but with Maori influence.
That night, as the sun set, she took me to Oihi Bay, a park/reserve that is the site of the first Christian service on New Zealand. Now it's home to a good size group of Kiwi birds. They are a nocturnal, vulnerable and often endangered bird as they have no protection against non-native predators. (Dogs, cats, stoats and ferrets) To get to hear or see them is a rare and wonderful thing. I heard about six calling in the night and saw two! They are not a graceful bird, silly lumpy things. And the female we saw waddling along, was most probably filled with the egg she'll hatch come spring.
Following day Jacki got me onto a dolphin cruise where, right out of the harbor we sighted a pod feeding. They swam along side and in front of the boat for a bit. Spectacular!
A note here on the absence of kiwi, dolphin or seal pics (yes I saw them too). Sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment, without the rush to capture it.
We were dropped off in Russell, which is just as historic, no matter what the sign says.
I'm in Rotorora now. Home of redwoods and sulphur springs.
And more gorgeous flowers.
The Silver Fern is a symbol of New Zealand and found all over the islands.
By the way, NZ does know how to do chips (thick cut French fry) which I have no problem with!
There is a bird sanctuary here on the lake and I had a little wander through there today.
This is a Pukeko. Great blue color.
The sulphur is strong in this one.
I spent some time in the hot springs baths yesterday. Very relaxing.
I'm off to Linton, Palmerston North to WWOOF. WWOOF is an organization setting folks up to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board. I'll be at a sort of animal sanctuary for the week.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stop Apologizing Wellington!

Yes it's winter here, and blustery, rainy and sometimes all out chilly. But we're talking 50F chilly, and the rain brings green lushness to the landscape. So please, no apologies needed.
Wandering the city is easy, buses and trains are smooth and clean. And when a chill strikes as I wander I pop into one of the coffee shops that are everywhere for a cuppa and a baked good. That doesn't suck!
I took a run/hike along the waterfront, up some winding staircases and trails to the top of Mt. Victoria right in the center of town.
Moore Wilson's is a wonderful market that I fell in love with, and I apparently only wandered in 1\2 of it.
And this below? Is NOT a doughnut. Looks like one sure, but it's just a sweetbread masquerading as a doughnut, shame on you Wellington!

My last night before I headed north, I had dinner with my childhood friend Pamela at Loretta. Urban chic, rough elegance at its finest. Beet Pate (vegan) to begin, Freekah, Radiccio and Brussels Sprouts salad for me and "Wet" Risotto for her. And of course an Affogato, some sweet bites and pot of tea to finish!
I'm in Auckland now for but a day as I head north to Opua in the Bay of Islands tomorrow.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Venice to Wellington!

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”- The Hobbit
One of my last meals in Venice Beach CA came from a little place called Gjelina Take Away. Broccolini with Garlic, a salad of Avocado, Nectarines and Basil with slices of Rustic Bread. Made a great picnic in the camper that was my accommodations.
I'm in Wellington now, getting my wandering in. New Zealand Air was quite a wonderful experience by the way. I've never had a smoother journey.
Fish Fry shop take away was suggested by my gracious host Bill and his son Kevin, as it's the quintessential take away meal here. That's Veg Chop Suey on the right and, of course, chips on the left.  How I do love a fried potato!

This morning I had a quick run through Trelissick Park. It gave the perfect cover from the light drizzle. The park is lovingly tended to by a group of volunteers, including my hosts Bill and Marilyn. It's beautiful.
It's winter time here, grey and drizzly. I love it though. Cool enough to run an wander without overheating.
I'm at Ta Papa now, the NZ national museum, which will make the Old Bird happy (retired teacher that she is), and will continue on with my Wellington wanderings.