Buzzing through the North Island

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
Trip End Jun 16, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, December 9, 2012

I sit here with my NZ glass of white wine in an ensuite room (I much prefer this to sharing a bathroom with a gang of people) chilling out after 2 nights in Wellington, 1 night in Napier, 1 night in Taupo and now in Rotorua. I have been a little anxious lately.  This driving and these one-night stops wear thin on me in short order. In the North Island, we are finding it more difficult to locate the small and remote hostels that we love while covering the territory in the one week we have allotted.  The larger hostels have crowded kitchens, lots of people hanging out and chatting, more noise and less privacy. 

To add to that, we are struggling with what to do during our upcoming week in Australia (in and out of Brisbane).  Do we drive 1700 km to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef (GBR)?  Fly? Blow the budget & sail off the Whitsundays? Stay in Brisbane and explore the city? Get a camper and drive the Sunshine Coast?  Advice comes readily when we inquire (GBR is touristy & a disappointment, GBR is incredible, it is stinger and box jelly fish season, expensive country to travel in, hostels are very much a young person's scene, don’t hike without a guide, camping is very busy so book well in advance, hot-40 degrees Celsius, etc.). This type of scenario brings out our indecisiveness and flexibility coupled with the stress I feel when ungrounded and it all gets in our way. 

By Napier, I had had enough with open-endedness so I dragged Jim into a travel agency, announced we needed quiet in Australia and bought a 5-night stay at an inexpensive resort in the Noosa area two hours north of Brisbane.  I breathed relief; I am ready for silence and privacy soon.

Highlights of the next few days included Napier’s art deco** architecture, Taupo’s Huka Falls and the thermal hot springs along the Waikato River and everything in Rotorua. As we headed north, we noticed the deepening expression and depth of the Maori culture. New Zealand’s integration of Maori culture with the European, although not perfect, is a model for other countries trying to honour their indigenous populations.

We put an end to the one-night stops by Rotorua, deciding to stay put and forfeit the Coromandel Peninsula in the north east. The Royal New Zealand Ballet with their new Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel is touring the quintessential romantic ballet Giselle and they were in Rotorua at the same time we were there.  I had discovered a couple of weeks prior that the show was sold out so was asking everyone (travel agents, tourist information centers, hostel owners, everyone) if there was any way to get a ticket.  Nothing.  We arrived in Rotorua early on the day of the show.  Upon arrival at the box office the kind, yet not very optimistic woman who was working there, reluctantly put me down as #25 on the waiting list.  Still holding on to the hope that there was a ticket out there for me, I showed up for the show 2 hours prior to the start, sat down with my book and a cup of tea and waited.  With no more than 25 minutes to spare, a woman approached me and offered to sell me one of her tickets and it was a good seat, too!  The show was fantastic!!  I was mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the corps de ballet, the sets, well, the entire production. 

And the next day I lost myself at Rotorua Museum’s hosting of the extraordinary works of the touring exhibition Off the Wall-World of WearableArt up Close.  These 'garments’ ranged from glow-in-the-dark costumes to bizarre bras; a collection of 10 years of the best entries to this now famous New Zealand annual event.  So Rotorua was a highlight for me.  Jim, on the other hand, got caught in torrential downpours while hiking.

Our last stop in New Zealand was outside of Auckland where we visited friends from the US who have lived in NZ for over 15 years.  Between stimulating conversation, giggles, great food, outdoor sauna and shower and their magical earth home and hobby farm atop a ridge with views of rolling hills, Bethells Beach and the surf of the west coast, we had the perfect final days in New Zealand. 

Although travel is not always easy, we never seem to be short on the gifts it has to offer whether it is the splendour of nature, the camaraderie of people or the cultural offerings of each place we visit.  We are so grateful for this experience!

**In case you aren't sure what art deco means... "is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s, then waned in the post-World War 11 era. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation" (Wikipedia).
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Raissa on

I've been loving your blog and reexploring our previous stops through your stories and great pics. I laughed at your comments about being stressed by driving and moving around. I was so happy to leave NZ. Although I loved it, I didn't want to spend one more minute on those winding roads, shared with bikes, landslides, signes that say you shouldn't go more than 80-100kms (right, you could maybe drive at 50 kms safely).

Sue Walker on

Sorry I missed your call last night, I love your blog entries You guys look like you are having a BLAST!
I am so jealous
More entries please
Love Sue xo

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