Monday, April 30, 2012

New Zealand Beauty

I finally loaded the photos of New Zealand that were on Michael's IPhone.  We visited 3 waterfalls.  Huka Falls was a beautiful ice blue green that reminds me of beach glass. It was mesmerizing but we did not a have camera with us (after I "lost" mine).

The next two falls, Waitomo and Bridal Veil Falls,we got the IPhone out.

After leaving Waitomo we journeyed on to find the West Coast and final destination of Raglan.  This is where we got a bit lost.  Imagine driving on a gravel road that has veed a couple of times and begins to narrow, not knowing exactly what road you were on but feeling the direction you're heading is right.  Then you come upon a slight rise in the road and on the other side is miles of the blackest, sparkling sand you've ever seen.

After spending some time on the beach we backtracked and found our way to Raglan where we had mussels and beer and watched the sun beginning to set.  Our plans had been to make it back to Auckland but it was too late so we traveled on to Hamilton and spent the night.

The final night before we left we took Jinn and Neil out to dinner on the Auckland waterfront district. A perfect end to a prefect journey.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Zealand Part III

It’s been two weeks since I arrived home from New Zealand. It seems longer. I’m reading back through my travel log. Thinking back on the daily adventures I had.

On Saturday, after the shopping day, we packed up to drive 3 hours to Kerikeri to stay at a friends house and take care of her daughter while she was traveling a couple of nights. We went to see the “Hunger Games”, walked to the Sunday market past a Maori village, picked figs and apples from the orchard (the house we stayed at is on an organic farm), played ukuleles and sang late into the night.

Our next journey was to the northern tip of the island. We stopped in KeriKeri at the butchers and got the best lamp chops I’ve had. New Zealand is sheep country!

On the way to Mangonui we passed Doubtless Bay, named so because Captain Cook wrote in his log, “Doubtless a Bay” in 1769.

We stopped at the Carrington Resort Winery for lunch.

The home we stayed at in Mangonui overlooks the bay. We visited Cooper’s Beach, and many other scenic areas. The weather could not have been more perfect.

We spent an afternoon at the beautiful Puheke beach. There was not another soul around. Of course I collected some shells that littered the beach and walked forever.

After a few days we traveled back to Auckland and met the guys who had just gotten off the boat. We had a big fish dinner of red snapper they caught, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, played ukes and sang all kinds of songs, told stories, and laughed.

Here’s Michael with the crayfish (lobster) he caught and ate.

Michael and I took of to visit the Rotorua/Taupo area. We went to the thermals and did a walking tour. Very interesting that most of New Zealand gets power from these thermals. Huge pipelines make their way up to the power plant. All natural clean energy.

We stayed in Rotorua a couple of nights. This is when I “lost” my camera. So no pictures after this until the last day when Michael brought his IPhone out and snapped a few pictures but he has yet to send them to me so perhaps in the next few days I’ll get him to do that and I’ll post them. We did get a few of the fabulous waterfalls we visited and the natural bridges cavern.

We saw the glow worm caves, took a tree walk and saw the largest Totara tree said to be 1750 – 1850 ears old. Incredible walking on these paths under tree ferns with tuis and pukekos flying around. There was no one else on the path with us and it felt quiet and ancient as if we were in another world.

We went to Lake Taupo the next day, took a sailboat ride across the lake, spent the night and then headed to the west coast.

Roads in New Zealand are not marked or named like in the USA where we have state and county roads. Only the freeways are marked so when you look at a map you can see the road but how do you know if you’re on the right one? So we got a little lost.

We missed a turn off and kept going straight through a little village then onto a gravel road and eventually we came upon the sea and the most beautiful, sparkling black sand beach I’ve ever seen! We had to get out and walk and stare at the incredible turquoise water.

Leaving and driving on we came to the end of the road where a man was logging. He laughed at us when we told him where we wanted to go so we backtracked and found our way to the turn we should have taken.

We meant to make it back to Auckland but it was getting late so we spent the night in the cool little town of Raglan.

Back to Auckland to pack up to fly home the next day. While unpacking my smaller travel bag to repack the large suitcase my camera appeared in a side pocket under some clothes. I had stuffed it there when we left the motel room to go eat. Duh?!

The trip was fabulous. I said to Michael I was ready to go on vacation again, to go back to New Zealand.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Zealand Designer Shopping Day (part II)

The skies had mostly cleared so on the plane ride back to Auckland we viewed the bluest sparkling waters.

The next morning we awoke to a perfect, sunshiny day! The kind of day where we wore capris and short- sleeved tops. Our plan was to go into Auckland and shop and that we did!

We headed to an area called Ponsonby. Ponsonby is an urban city suburb with lots of eclectic stores, restaurants, and bars.

I have followed the designs of a New Zealand fashion designer, Trelise Cooper, and have often checked her website. Our first stop was at her outlet store. The store carries an array of fashions at a very discounted price. I was thrilled to purchase a skirt and a jacket at a fraction of the retail price.

After stopping for refreshments we ventured onward window shopping as we made our way to Tatty’s. Tatty’s is a second hand clothing store but with designer clothing. As I said I had known of Trelise Cooper but when I began going through the racks and racks of clothing in Tatti’s I began to learn of many other New Zealand designers. I kept pulling out garments I liked and they would be from Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, Cue, and Annah Stretton.

The thing about used clothing stores is finding something that fits. While I found many garments I liked they often weren’t in my size. I purchased a piece by a Swedish design company called Lindex.

It was almost happy hour and time for a cold drink after a warm day of shopping. On our way I told my friend I could not buy anything else! (I don’t often go on shopping sprees) but then I saw a store that had a very inviting SALE sign. I noticed they carried Johnny Was brand clothing so I walked right on in. The good thing for me about sales items was that they were from the spring/summer line of clothing. It’s the beginning of Fall in New Zealand but it’s spring in the USA. Then I saw a dress I just had to try on by a design brand I had not heard of. Desigual (the “s” is backwards). This is a Spanish design house. Of course the dress fit me and, yes, I bought it. (no, the 42 is not an American size)

It was time for that beer now and some Thai food.

After a tough day of shopping and our dinner we immediately went to a movie and saw “My Week With Marilyn”. It was a sweet film and I enjoyed it.

Time to go home and feed Arty.

Tomorrow we’re headed to KeriKeri and then the beaches on the North Shore.

All the cool designs I saw were so inspiring and now that I’m home I am experimenting with some of the ideas from what I saw and purchased.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Aotea (Maori for “white cloud”) Part I

Long centuries you reigned supreme upon your sea girt throne,
Undisturbed , unchallenged, unrivalled, and unknown.
‘Til restless roving men appeared and marked you for their prey,
And soon destroyed by axe and fire your beauties pass away.
I often gaze with wonder on that picture of the past,
When nature crowned you charming queen of islands unsurpassed.
I feel I’d die contented if my death could but restore to you your vanished
Beauties that have gone for evermore.
You have bound me to you strongly and I do not wonder why for I have
Loved you since I’ve known you and will love you till I die,
For your beauty of the present and your beauty of the past,
You lonely, lovely, charming,
Queen of beauty unsurpassed.

William Perry, a bushman of the Awara, Great Barrier Island

I keep a little travel log when I’m traveling. Most times I just jot down brief messages of where I’m at, dates, addresses of places, or friends I’ve visited. So the following is being written from my travel log of New Zealand. It may end up being written in more than one post.

Michael and I left San Francisco on a Friday at 8:00 pm for a direct flight to Auckland. We arrived at 5:00 in the morning on Sunday. It is normally 3 hours earlier there the next day but when we go to DST it’s 4 hours and before we left New Zealand they went off DST so now it’s 5 hours difference. Coming home we left on a Sat. for a 12 hour flight and arrived home on the same day, a bit confusing.

Jinn picked us up at the airport and took us to her house where we unpacked and repacked smaller bags for a trip to Great Barrier Island. We flew from Auckland to Great Barrier on a 14 person plane and we took Arty the dog (who I fell in love with).

We stayed at a friend of Jinn and Neil’s who has a fabulous house! Neil had fresh lobster (aka crayfish) and abalone ready for dinner then the guys left to go to the sailboat. The plan was for them to sail for 10 days while Jinn and I did our own thing.

(Above pics are the house we stayed at and below are pics of what I awoke to each day in my room)

That night the rain began. It is the beginning of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere. And it rained, the wind blew fierce, and the clouds gathered in close. The guys were anchored down in the harbor and the waters too choppy for them to take the dinghy and come ashore. Two days of this. Jinn and I stayed in our jammies one day, read, slept, ate, drank, told stories, and reminisced.

On the third day there was a promise of clearing and the guys made it ashore to come to the house and have dinner and spend the night. They took off the next morning back to the boat and Jinn and I prepared to leave the island the next day and go back to Auckland. During the night I awoke and through the window saw the sky littered with stars.

While packing up on Thursday morning we were greeted by a rainbow, a promise of sun on the horizon.

My Dad

To let you all know, my dad had to have 4 stents put in but has returned home now and is doing fine. It’s so amazing that this procedure can be done and seems to be fairly routine. I read there is a 99% success rate with stent placement and that is about as good as it can get. It’s hard to be so far away at times like this. It was good to talk with him on the phone and to hear that he sounded himself so I did not make a trip to be him.

I will be back to post about my New Zealand trip very soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Need A Little More Time

I arrived home from the wonderland that is New Zealand on Sat. I know I should post my photos and blog but I have been trying to play catch up after being gone 3 weeks and it's hard to come home after having no schedule except to do what we felt like doing that day. Not tied to a computer, not fretting deadlines, and no cell phone. I temporarily lost my camera but it resurfaced (and yes Leslie it was one of those things you WOULD tease me about!) and I'd rather not elaborate on that issue.

I'm also worried about my dad. He is in the hospital in St. Louis having a heart cath because of chest pains and the doctors thought they would need to put a stent in. I know these days the medical world can work such miracles and these procedures become common and successful but I feel so bad being far away from him and not able to see or talk with him.

My mind is elsewhere at this time other than blogging about my trip. But I do have a lot to say about it and will blog soon, I promise.

In the meantime here are just a few photos.