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Published: March 8th 2006
Mildew filled Brown Kiwi
Mmmm...I love the smell of b.o. and wet dog in the morning
While surya updates you on the trip so far in australia (i forbit us from going to internet cafes in the start- trying to break his habit of checking his blackberry incessantly, so we are wee bit behind on our updates), i am going to bring on new zealand's north island...
we arrived to auckland, which is truely a spectacular city- built on the ocean with views of finger bays, boats, islands, and mountains as far as you can see. it was nightime, so we b lined it to the hostel that i had insisted on staying in. all looked well until we climbed the stairs and became enwafted in the sweet and tangy smell of... was is mold? was is a herd of wet dogs? no, it was our little room. for those of you who know me, and my sensitive schnoz, this was not a good start to the north island. due to the late hour and my insistance that i could hold out for a night, we boarded our hammock bed and drifted off into a restless night of sleep, complete with the sensation that little critters were emerging from the carpets and finding their way onto
Two Maori Warriors!
Who looks more ferocious? The picture as taken right after the Maori dance troupe performance - I should've stuck my tongue out, too!
our legs. thank god the sun rises early at this time of the year. soon after awaking, we escaped the the streets of ponsonby road (one of aukland's hip-artisty neighborhoods) and grabbed a cafe to clear the mold from my head.
luckily, en route, we found a cute little bed and breakfast (amittee) run by ian and jill who were happy to take in the honeymooner pair with glee. to my pleasure and surprise, there were 3 sweet cats who lived there- 2 were sphynx (hairless!) and one was a big version (not quite as good looking though) of tahiti (our family's cat). I am trying to warm surya up to the idea of getting a cat, so it was a nice start- variety in breed and no reason to complaints of allergies (being 2 of the 3 were hairless).
we spent that day and the following in aukland proper checking out a maori dance performance, the aukland natural history museum, the botanical gardens and the waterfront. The museum was a good introduction to maori culture and the flora/ fauna of new zealand- we were enraptured by the bug collections, and i was thrilled to find many cicada
species, as that is the dominant night sound in this city. We took a bus out to another area of town where there is an exhibit of antarctia, but it was closed, so we ate pizza and sipped beer while looking over the bay toward the central city and waiheke island, where we were heading the next day. We ended the evening with a trip up the highest building in the southern hemisphere to watch the sunset with a bunch of other travellors and got a 360 degree view of the city. Sky tower is 328 meters tall and boasts views of 80 km in all directions. a great way to get your city bearings. apparently some people pay to connect themselves to a thick cable and do what is called a "sky jump". You jump off the building at 192 km and FREE FALL for 16 seconds, going a speed of 75 kph until it gently brings you to a halt. needless to say, i opted out and surya, after consideration and counting out how long 16 second would be, followed suit.
After spending the next morning exploring the city some more, we boarded one of the city
ferries and made our way to waiheke island. while waiting for the ferry and eating gelato, we met some other american tourists who seemed a bit confused- wondering why we were heading to waikiki, hawaii....it made us feel like perhaps we were going to be away from it all, which is exactly what was to come!
The ferry ride was 1 hour all in all- we stopped at another suberb (devonport) on the way and then landed at this little paradise island. the next 3 days we spent, lazily exploring the island in our little rental car (named willow), visiting the beaches, heading to one of the many wineries (somewhere around 40, which is surprising, as the island is really not that large), tasting wine/ eating good cheese, and relaxing in our little bungalow.
we stayed at a place called palm beach bungalows...the owners have been on the island for about 18 years, have raised their family there and run this little "B&B". they have 3 or 4 little bungalows in the forest about a 5 minute walk to the beach and then one on the beach, next to their home. Our bungalow, treetop, was modest, but great...we
Our cute bungalow on Waiheke Island
It wasn't much bigger than it looks, but it was still our cozy littel home. You just really don't need all that stuff!
slept to the sounds of cicadas, rain on the roof, and wind moving the leaves all around. i loved it, it was a tad loud for surya, but i imagine, it becomes background noise for everyone once you have been there for a while. the owner, brenda was nice and said that she had 2 home births in the woods there- one of the other bungalows and one in the hot tub, which we missed out on.
The best part about the island was the friendly people, the tastey wine and the views from every turn of the car- i think i said "i love this" or "i would love to live in a place like this" about 100 times in 4 days. the ocean was chilly, but the colors were deep turquoise, which seemed odd compared to the temperate waters of new england. we were sad to depart! one of our favorite wines was Te Whoa (pronounced tay fo), which had not preservatives added to it. it was smooth, full and tastey. You can not get it overseas, as it is a small winery. the winery was started by a psyciatrist who worked for one of the largest
MM at Passage Rock Vineyard
Really good Cab blend at this place - along with some friendly cats
corporations in new zealand as head of HR. he said he always wanted to have a winery, so designed a building, wine processing method and opened shop when he retired at age 55.
sadly, we left our littel bungalow home and headed back to the mainland to catch our plane to queenstown on the south island. our cab driver was a yugoslavian physician who immigrated to new zealand 15 years ago, and due to difficulties in passing the english exam, was never able to practice medicine again. sad, but he loved new zealand and seemed happy meeting folks while driving. we hung around waiting for our delayed flight for about 3 hours and then boarded for our next adventures in queenstown.
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