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Rotorua, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Lower Hutt

World Trip Two

Monday, April 6, 2009: Auckland-Rotorua, New Zealand

The monster truck.

Spent the morning at the Campervan (RV) check in office; they were disorganized and had many customers waiting in a long line. We must have spent four hours there. But eventually we had our enormous truck and were driving down the left hand side of the road on our way.

The van was much bigger than I had imagined it would be, but it has a TV, DVD, microwave, stove, toaster-oven, toilet, shower, and three double beds so I guess it has to be big.

There are not only lots of sheep but cows too, in New Zealand.

The drive to Rotorua was a learning experience. Julia and I split the two hour and thirty minute drive and both had to get used to the length of the truck. Strangely, getting used to driving on the left hand side of the road again was not a problem for either of us.

But maneuvering the monster truck was indeed daunting. We arrived at the RV Park in Rotorua with no mishaps and in time to take a sort walk into town before dinner. We used the kitchen in the monster truck and made a wonderful dinner, drank some lovely wine, and went to bed dreaming of electric sheep. (You have to be a fan of the film Blade Runner)

Rotorua Video

Tuesday, April 6, 2009: Rotorua-New Plymouth, New Zealand

A vista from Rotorua.

We drove from the eastern side of the north island to the west coast. What fantastic scenery we saw. New Zealand has very dense sub tropical rain forests and in them are ferns that grow to the size of a tall tree. We drove past beautiful rivers, cliffs of pumice stone, rolling green fields full of cattle and sheep.

It was a long drive but well worth it. When we finally reached the west coast it began to rain. This made driving the monster truck even more difficult but the reward was the amazing views of the Tasman Sea.

An unexpected beauty spot.

We arrived at New Plymouth in time to take a walk along a black sand beach. We made the trek in between rain showers and it was sure worth the possibility of getting wet.

The wind was blowing at 40 mph and the sea air revived us both. We returned to the monster truck, made dinner and slept in our aluminum box with the rain and the wind howling outside; but glad of it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2009: New Plymouth-Whanganui, New Zealand

The sleepy hollow of Stratford upon New Zealand.

We drove only 2 hours today, and will try not to drive more than this for the rest of the trip now. Yesterday we drove for 4.5 hours and it did not agree with our rather laid back natures. If we drive for 2 hours it also gives us more time in the day to hike.

This is exactly what we did today when we arrived at Whanganui River camp ground.

New Zealand is a very friendly place; full of friendly people and animals. But the down side of all this friendliness is that mostly every town is not much more than a little country village. I guess when you have a country the size of Great Britain, with only 4 million Kiwis in it, you could not expect much less than friendly. New Zealanders like to project an image of excitement and thrills; let's face it they did invent the bungee jump. But my view is this is all a front, mainly they are a quiet and mostly gracious people.

A friendly Duck.

From Julia: Impressions of Whanganui (actually everywhere so far): no spiders, very neat gardens and houses like small California bungalows, helpful and cheerful people, general wellbeing and happiness, no obvious poverty; lots of farms, happy cows resting in open fields, rainforest, wilderness, a good percentage of people per square mile i.e. not many people.

The roads are empty, the food is good, and all is lush, green, and content. I like it.

David feels a rant coming on so here's over to him (maybe the excellent Viogner Shiraz blend is stimulating the grey cells).

The friendly rainbow filled land of New Zealand.

Unlike Australia and the United States, which both did a thorough job of exterminating their indigenous inhabitants; New Zealand seems to have avoided this. The Maori peoples seem to have not only integrated but highly influenced the current modern culture.

The Maori language is taught in schools as a second language, the faces of the people are a reflection of the success of their integration, and finally the land is completely without the hatred that is found in places like South Africa. Of course South Africa is the exact opposite to the success of New Zealand in this regard, being a country with generations of horror and hatred sown into its fabric. Rant over.

Thursday, April 8, 2009: Whanganui-Lower Hutt, New Zealand

Julia keeping a stiff upper lip.

Poor little Julia; the day before we left on our trip she decided to work in our garden. The poor darling found a large bush of poison oak. In her normal way she fought a fierce battle against the wayward weed.

But alas, even with all the protective measures she made, the noxious plant won out and imparted its poison all over her arms and legs. It took four days for its full effect to make itself known, but now poor dear Julia is covered by nasty welts and swellings. Not a good start to our trip around the world and our honeymoon.

No sabotage this time.

It rained all night long last night, and we woke to a very, very cold morning. Fortunately for us the monster truck has an electric and propane gas heater in it; we were soon toasty and warm. On our way to Wellington (Lower Hutt) the brake warning light came on. We called the owners and they directed us to a mechanic along our way.

Everything checked out so we think the light, which went out not too long after it came on, was a ghost in the machine. The unscheduled delay caused us to have lunch in the Paraparaumu mall. It was like any mall in the USA only you could buy meat pies as well as McDonalds there.

Black Swans swimming amongst the industrial parks.

We eventually arrived and parked the monster truck; always an interesting adventure.

It requires one of us getting out and directing the driver as it is impossible to see behind the monster. To our surprise we found a lovely walk which took us along the Hutt River/Estuary and past some of the finest Industrial Parks in New Zealand. I hope the South Island offers more grand untouched vistas. We leave for the South Island tomorrow morning.

Trip stats

Miles Flown: 7,111

Miles Hiked: 22

Miles Driven: 567


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