Friday, February 20, 2009

Headed back to Whangarei

February 20, 2009--We stayed at the Abel Tasman Hotel in Wellington the evening of January 30, and then spent the next morning visiting the museum. A second museum building next door had a display of Leonardo daVinci’s machines, and we found the exhibit to be very interesting. They had working models of all his machines so that you could actually see how each one worked.

The next day we began our return drive up to Whangarei. We already had reservations to stay in Palmerston North, and there was not much to see here, but it was a different route than we took on the way down. This town is mainly a farming community, but we enjoyed a lovely room at the Illuzzions Motel.

In the morning we decided to drive up Highway 1 past Tongariro National Park. This park was established in 1887, and the three peaks were a gift to New Zealand from the local Maori tribe. The summit of Mt. Ruapehu is the highest at 2797 meters and is the most active of the park’s volcanoes. On our drive south the mountain was shrouded in clouds; however, on our way back north we had a wonderful view of the mountain against a beautiful blue sky, and there was still snow on it.

We continue north until we reached Auckland, where we were able to find a motel room at The Ritz, not the same as in New York City, but still very nice. We left fairly early the next morning and had to fight some rush-hour traffic, but we made it through. The next obstacle was a new toll roll that went into effect just a few days earlier. We needed only a one-trip ticket, so we pulled off to the pay booth—what a zoo! We had to stand in a long line just to put in our $2 coin. They were still trying to work out some glitches in the new system.

We arrived back in Whangarei around one o’clock tired but having thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The next evening we took Zelda to Cruisers’ Night at Reva’s Restaurant. They offer two meals for a special price to the cruisers, and the crews from the boats in Town Basin and Riverside Drive Marina show up to visit and see who is in town. This night the three of us chose beef stroganoff with a salad, and it was delicious. We enjoyed visiting with a few of the cruisers and catching up on the latest news.

On Wednesday Zelda’s was scheduled to fly out at 2:30 so we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then drove up to the old quarry to see the arts and crafts displays in the different shops. We were a bit disappointed in the whole area; however, we did find some interesting items in one shop.

For lunch we went to our favorite Thai restaurant and Zelda and I had our usual #29, which is pork in a tamarind and white wine sauce over rice--excellent. Steve decided to try something different, but it wasn’t as good as our usual.

We then drove Zelda to the airport, stopping for an ice cream cone on the way. This would be her last helping of Tip Top Ice Cream. We arrived about an hour early, but soon enough the plane arrived, so it was time to say goodbye. She emailed us when she got home saying that the trip went fine and that she had met several friendly people who helped her with her bags.

We had such a good time traveling with Brie, Tim, and Zelda, and it was hard to see them leave, but now we needed to turn our attention to the boat. I will write more about that in the next blog.

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