Refreshed after my baked beans, I’m ready to press on with the story of our Kiwi trip before I go to get a new car battery and a new computer monitor. Just a little stuff that crapped out while we were away…
We drove from National Park out to Lake Taupo and had lunch while visiting the Craters of the Moon geothermal field. That’s all you really need to know to make sense of these shots.
Then we drove down to Napier, which really was pretty impressive. I’d heard it was an Art Deco Mecca, after having been entirely rebuilt in a great hurry after an earthquake in 1932. But these things can get exaggerated by tourist-board hype artists, so I was anticipating to see just a few old Art Deco gems in the middle of town, with lots of bandwagon-jumping Art Deco lettering in the windows of stores that were actually built in 1978.
But the truth is far better: the whole town really is Art Deco. And moreover, it somehow manages to be Art Deo in a nice, slighltly understated way, so you have to hang around for a bit to really soak it up. It’s hard to capture in photos, but these will give you an idea.
Next stop was Wellington, after quite a long drive. Once again, we spent a lot of time slobbing arond in the CBD, going to the parks, kids play areas and cultural bits and bobs, and hanging out at our apartment.
There were some ghosts in our apartment…
Wellington is nicer than Auckland by a very long way. But the weather is a bit dire. It’s called Windy Wellington and indeed, it was insanely windy the day we went to the Botanic Gardens via the cable car from Lambton Quay. We managed to catch up with our friend Michael Upton, who we met in the Solomons where he was working for AusAid. Now he’s working for NZ Aid which means – wait for it – he’s actually moved to New Zealand. By doing so, he accounted for something like 25% of the net immigration to NZ for the month of his arrival.
Here he is admiring the cable car, and also, looking a bit alarmed at the behaviour of some National Front members who were protesting about the coming Free Trade Agreement with China. Not that they are racist or anything. They just care about the plight of the common man.
Alas, then it was time to get the train back to Auckland. Unlike the Overlander from Melbourne to Adelaide, the Overlander through North Island is not deliberately designed to crush the spirit of all those people too poor to fly. In fact it’s quite fun. And the lamb was the best thing we ate the whole time we were in NZ.
Here’s some shots from the trip. Actually, the viaduct and forest shots were taken on the drive on the way down: the rail parallels the road, so we saw the same terrain in both directions – and we even stopped in National Park for lunch.
Bye, New Zealand. We’ll be back to look at South Island at some point.