one month in and we've made it to the South

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December 11th 2009
Published: December 12th 2009
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I cannot believe it's already been a month! We've been going and going so much that it seems as though we've only been here a few days.

I am so sorry that on the last blog I talked about the great pancakes we had and told you to "see pic" - haha well not until I published it, did I realize the pic next to it was of the chicken hearts and not of the pancakes. I didn't arrange the pics.. so.. haha sorry, I know that was sick.

I forgot to add a pic of Karlene Jean, so will do this time! She has been cooperating very well lately.. full of water and oil still.. it's a good thing! We had her decorated with ornaments for Christmas, but sadly, on our last long drive, she lost all 3 to the wind. 😞 We had them, or so we thought, tied tightly on her "pole" aka antenna. Don't worry though.. she still has a little red and green beauty dangling from her rearview mirror. Sweet as! Have I mentioned that? "sweet as" is the Kiwi slang for pretty much anything that's good. They say it in response to everything

David's house in Taupo
and it's funny everytime.

Last I left you, we were going for a sail on a yacht on Lake Taupo with David, for free. 😊 We boarded the boat named Barbary. It was a beautiful day and beautiful boat. There were two other Americans, three crazy Kiwi ladies, David, Eliza, Smith and myself. This was the second night of staying with David, but the first time we had seen him since meeting him. He came in really late the first night and we were already in bed, so it was kind of funny to just hop on his boat and hang out for a while. These three Kiwi women had us laughing the whole time. They would say any and everything. David let each of us steer the boat and once the Kiwi woman got behind the wheel she kept yelling "let's do 680's, let's do 680's" haha which we understood as 360's. As I was steering, I accidentally hit the horn button with my calf and thought I had been electricuted. It was so loud and sounded like a car horn. David said he lost the other horn to the water the week before and this was the temporary replacement. ha. I don't think I've ever been on an actual sailboat, so it was fun to feel/watch the boat tip to the side when a big gust of wind would come. We sailed around to a famous Maori rock carving. It had several pieces/figures to it, with several sprititual meanings. I have seen my fair share of Maori stuff and have yet to understand a word of it. It was neat to see though. (sidenote: Lake Taupo is New Zealand's biggest lake and covers the vent of the most explosive volcano.... kinda weird/scary to think about.... we found this out after the cruise)

After the yacht, we went to our favorite little Takeaway place, Eurasia. It had the best fish and chips, burgers, and even Chinese. Over the course of our time in Taupo, I ate there 4 times. haha which is about the number of times we've eaten out in NZ. It was so good and even had the cheapest Diet Cokes for Eliza. We went to meet the David for a drink, at the same bar where we met him. He was having "tea" which means he was having dinner. We hung around for a little bit, but soon decided to go home, since we had an actual home to go to. 😊 We were planning to get up the next morning and head an hour and a half away for the Tongariro Crossing, a hike that takes about 5-6 hours. However, when we woke up, all we saw was rain, rain, rain. We decided to stay yet anoher night at our cozy little home. We went to the Taupo museum, which was small and funny because usually when you go to museums you're amazed at the age of all the artifacts and whatnots, but you have to remember that New Zealand is the youngest country in the world. I think the oldest thing we saw was from the 1800s. ha, even the Maori rock carvings we saw are only 30 years old. We would read info dated all the way back 1940. 😊

We were also able to open up a NZ bank account. We now do our banking with BNZ (which is pronounced BN Zed.. instead of how we say "zee") and it was super simple to get set up. Now we don't have to worry about all the international fees we've been getting charged for using our normal cards. We're so official, I know. 😊

It was a relatively productive day in the rain. Our clothes still weren't dry, but at least they were clean. For dinner that night we had my favorite! (you know it Sary) We had brupper! (Breakfast for Supper) I love it so much. However, we just had pancakes for breakfast the day before, so we made omelets. Delicious omelets with sausage, onions, cheese, mushrooms, and bell peppers (which they call capsicums). We watched a movie and called it a night, hoping for better weather in the morning. Not to our surprise, we woke up to more clouds and more rain. We had been in Taupo for almost a week now and needed to make a move. We decided to skip the Crossing and headed over to the city of Napier.

Napier is on the East Coast of the North Island and is known for its wine and "art deconess" (if that's a word). It is the art deco city of NZ. It was still raining when we arrived, which was good for Karlene so she couldn't get too hot and bad for us because it was a cute little town, but hard to enjoy fully in the rain. The beach there is made up of black pebbles. I thought it was pretty cool. No sand, all sizes of black pebbles. We were pretty distraught about the continuous rain, but heard it should be better the next day.

We went to the I-site looking for things to do around the city. We found a cute little brochure about biking to a few different wineries. D'Vine Bikes. We booked it for the next day. Back at the hostel, I think it was called The Stables or something, which matched because there were pictures of horses everywhere. I thought it was a bit odd, but ended up being a good place. Met a few guys who were living there and picking fruit during the day. When Karlene Jean was freaking out on us, we thought we were going to become fruit pickers. haha, yes, you can laugh, but we were serious. Thank the good Lord, Karlene is still trekkin along. These guys had scrapes and scratches all over them, one had even fallen out of the tree. They were so nervous the first night because they "didn't pick the apples fast enough" and got in trouble, and assumed they were going to be fired the next day. They were Dutch, German, and one American... from Wisconsin. Have I mentioned the Wisconsin phenomenon?? We have seen more stuff about/from Wisconsin than I ever have in my life. It has been the weirdest thing. Everything from magnets in our hostel rooms to a guy in a Wisconsin sweatshirt on the street. At least once every few days something comes up about Wisconsin. So when this weird guy said he was from Wisconsin we were both a little freaked out.

Back to D'Vine bikes. We wake up and head to this home outside Napier to a town called Taradale. The company is based in their home, garage full of bikes. We imagined beach cruiser bikes, slow pace to the wineries, a few tastings, lots of laughs, and to be finished. Reality hits, and we're helmeted on these offroad bikes, trying to figure out a map, before we could even say our names, but hey, the weather was great!

So we're off to our first winery, (1 of 8) laughing hysterically at how ridiculous we looked. We were told that the first 2 were really close, then the next was up a small hill, followed by a cluster of the rest. We find it, no problem, only not as close as we had imagined. Have our tastings, which were lovely and move on to the next. Next was Mission Bay Winery and it was gorgeous. Big, old, white building set up on the hillside overlooking the vineyards. If I remember correctly, I think it is one of the oldest in NZ.

As long as we've been in NZ, we haven't heard any thunder, always just the rain. Not the case anymore. As we peddled our way out of the 2nd winery, what do we hear? Thunder. What do we see? Lightning. How far away are we? FAR. What do we do? Pedal, pedal, pedal. It is just a light rain now, so we are ok, but getting a little worried about what's coming. Like I've mentioned before, the weather in NZ will change in 2 minutes, or not even that long. We see this "hill" and decide that Kiwi people need to A. work on their map making skills and B. need to realize that this "hill" is actually called a mountain. We start up the mountain and all of a sudden we felt like we were in Katrina. POURING, painful rain. It gets to a point where we can't pedal in it anymore and have to get off the bikes and run them up this mountainside. We are running along the state highway and there is absolutely no shoulder. Eliza is in front and all I can hear is "ouch, ouch, ouch" haha because the rain was pelting us so hard. I have never laughed, yet wanted to cry, so hard or bad in my life. We had not a single ounce of anything being close to dry. Thankfully it wasn't cold, or it could have been real bad. We finally get to the top of the mountain, a few cuss words later and realize that now we have to go down in the rain, avoiding passing cars at all cost. Back onto the bikes and down the "hill". We pull up to the next winery and the girl comes out with towels. It was a nice gesture, but didn't do any good. I think she felt sorry for us, because we had 9 tastings instead of the normal 4. ha. was nice of her. We absolutely needed it. Oh, and as we sat down, the rain stopped.

This was a boutique winery that specializes in making everything organic, called Moana Winery. As the girl is giving this whole schpeel about how clean everything is, I start to have a sneezing attack. Was pretty funny, but kind of awkward, I was trying so hard not to sneeze, but it wasn't working. I still don't know what was going on, but I was having issues with something there. As we left, the sun was coming back out. Whew. We got back on the bikes and headed for the next one. We biked along the roads with cows and sheep scattered everywhere. When sheep cry, it really sounds like babies crying and is so funny. We had been biking for a while now and still didn't see this supposed winery listed on the map. Eventually we made it to a gravel path, that literally led us through cows. We had to get off the bikes and walk our way through them. Good thing we are used to cows, I'm not sure someone who has never been around them could have done it. We really had to make them move so we could get through a gate. Soon after, we came out to the ocean. This was not good. We turned around, and found the "street" aka gravel turnoff we missed. We were back on the highway and followed it until we found the next winery. However, somehow in all of that we managed to skip 3 of them. If they had a categroy for false advertisement over here, I would put every single map in it. We bike our way up to the next winery to find out that it's not a winery at all, it's a brewery, but at this point, did it really matter? We are still laughing at what has happened to us already in the day. Back to the bikes. We are, I'd say, about 15 minutes from getting back to the place and what do you know. Down pour. Freaking DOWNPOUR. We were trying sooo hard to get back, but the rain just kept coming. It was so windy our maps were flying off. My butt hurt from the bike and my abs/face hurt from laughing so hard. Seriously, just picture this happening. It is freaking hilarious. We finally made it back to the hostel and everyone was worried about us. haha they said they were thinking about us all day.... stupid Americans. 😊

We had a new German roommate when we got back. She told me that she talks in her sleep and that it would probably be in German and not to let it scare me. I was frightened. I was so worried about it, that I think I just dreamed she did it. I don't think she actually did. haha, German is a scary language sometimes!

Next, we left rainy Napier and headed to Wellington. It is at the bottom of the North Island and the capitol of NZ. Long, curvy, countryside, mountains. Beautiful. It was a pretty long drive so we stopped at a gas station to have our lunch of Museli and give KJ a break. She has been such a trooper!

Have I mentioned that Karlene isn't a fan of music? Something happened to her along the way and now her radio doesn't work. Yes, we knew this when we bought her, but heard to get speakers for the iPod and all would be well. We did this, of course, but somehow we have yet again missed the mark. Our speakers only go so loud and on certain songs you can barely hear a thing. So here we are, driving across beautiful New Zealand each holding one grey 20 dollar speaker up to either of our ears. We find ourselves laughing out loud randomly solely because we picture what we look like. I am sure people are concerned, but hey, what can you do? It works. 😊 As we got closer to Wellington, the more mountains we went through. The mountain was the shoulder of the road to the left and to the right were little sticks wired together that had been dipped in paint, holding us atop. Amazing.

We made it to Wellington and it was absolutely freezing. We wanted to walk around, but could only do so for a little bit before we were to cold to go anymore. I don't know why the weather has been so weird. Everyone says that this is what it should have felt like two months ago, but not now. Newspapers are even asking why the weather has been so bizarre. Our new little home, the Worldwide Backpackers was quite cozy. We stayed for two nights and really liked Wellington. We went to the Te Papa museum and its claim to fame is that it's the only museum in the world witha a Colossal Squid. Yes, we saw it and yes, it was gross. Went to the botanical gardens, rode the Cable Car, watched some kids play Cricket, walked to the Parliment building, watched the sailboats flit around the water. Good day. I liked Wellington way more than Auckland. Wellington has a lot of character, even a huge art gallery covered in bright polka dots. The next day we booked the ferry to the South Island.

Got to go for now, good stopping place but will fill in the rest later... hope you are well! xoxoxo

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12th December 2009

I miss you. i hate not being able to text or call you... looks like yall are having a blast, im so jealous. do you know when you are coming back yet?
12th December 2009

MK ---- Please ask Eliza is she glad she took all those sundresses or has she sold them ?? Love, Miss Linda / Mama
15th December 2009

This is unbelievable!! The pics are great! I saw your Mam in Target yesterday.. She said that y'all are planning to Skype soon! Thanks for giving us updates. By the way, I really appreciate the fact that y'all have decorated the car for Christmas!!
16th December 2009

Merry Christmas
Im sure yall are having fun. I have been keeping up. Your blog is so much better than this margaretthedog character who never post. If you run into her you should give her some pointers. Miss yall. RJD

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