Thursday, 22 May 2014

life on the thermal superhighway


We are moving our way steadily northwards.

Time to leave South island with its song of the Tui at dawn.

To say goodbye to the exotic colours and foliage of the temperate rain forest of the Abel Tasman and Golden Bay.

And to head onwards to North Island. New territories for OH (other half) and I.

Crossing the Cook Straight

From Picton, via Queen Charlotte Sound and the Cook Straight, to Wellington. Back where I started, over three months ago, but no longer sun kissed and summery.

The sound was calm and blue. It was cold and fresh. Some people had fewer clothes on that expected. This young man was returning from a motorcycle race, and was nursing a serious hangover. He informed me that it meant he didn't feel the cold. He managed to eat an ice cream, but it didn't stay down very long.

hangover man

leaving Picton

Queen Charlotte Sound

I was sad to leave South Island, home of the big scenery,  empty roads and many very happy memories. 

North Island is unchartered territory for OH and I, and we were not sure what to expect. 

We know that  there is wine here, and that must be good. 

Last stop in South island was  Blenheim, specifically for the wine tasting , for not much else happens there.

Blenheim vines

We found vines and cycled from one one tasting to another in the autumn sunshine. 

We heard the dawn song of the local thrushes which was almost as good as the Tui, if a little less exotic. 


So far our transition from south island to north has been punctuated by emergency stops for favoured refreshments.

green lipped mussels

 for OH we stopped for green lipped mussels, but the shop was closed so we stopped instead for black pudding.

black pudding and apples

We got a goodly supply of black pudding and apples. OH is now an expert on cooking bacon, egg and black pudding in a motel room microwave. He turns out a beautiful frisbee shaped egg thing. I won't show it to you, as you would be horrified by the size of his breakfast and start sending me messages full of advice about healthy diets……….

A shame then, that we left it ( the black pudding)  behind in a bag in a motel room.

black pudding

For myself I prefer high quality flat whites in fancy cups with pretty patterns on the top.

flat whites

We have wonderful merino thermal underwear in expectation of cold winds in the central volcanic region. OH has replaced the ancient white garments that we took skiing about 30 years ago after good advice from my friends who dropped a little hint that I was hoping he might update his wardrobe a little on the thermal front.

Only the best will do. He has taken out a mortgage to get kitted out by Icebreaker. You are basically paying for the privilege of being able to trace which farm your wool came from with the use of the baa code on the box. Luxury items for sure.

It was pleasing to note, therefore, that we today approached the Thermal Explorer Highway.

thermal explorer highway

On to Napier in Hawkes Bay. Home of Art Deco.

bank, Napier

Napier building, Napier

In 1931 an earthquake destroyed the whole town. It was raised up by 6 metres so that the large boating and fishing lagoon became dry land. There followed a two year building programme that has left a heritage of art deco architecture that the town are rightly proud of.

They also lay claim to Opossum World.

Opossum World

Which is odd given that the rest of the country are desperately trying to eradicate the possums  by fair means and foul ( traps everywhere we go) in order to allow the birds to live long and happy lives. Possums were brought over from Australia, and like many introduced species, have more down sides than ups.

A bit like the cane toads in Queensland.

I am not sure about the art deco Subway sign.

subway, Napier

But the bandstand is classic through and through.

detail from the bandstand

After a fill of history we got back on our bikes and headed off to try some more wine.

This time at Mission estate, started by missionaries who "needed " their own supply of wine. 

Mission estate 

Mission estate vines
And very good it is too.

I am thinking of being a retired missionary when I retire, so that I can go and live there.

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