Needless to say my hands were sweating when I picked up the car yesterday morning. Then they told me it’s a brand new car – whooo hoooo! A Toyota Corolla. Like a Norman, but a little bigger. I hit the road at 9:30AM and traffic was light in the city.Luckily the city car rental was only a few blocks away from the one road heading north. Of course, I get in and realize – there’s no traffic, so which way is this street going? It’s like being a passenger on a cruise ship and asking if the stairs go up or down. Crafty Minxy, I looked for the parked cars – ah ha! And with that, we were off….myself with Grammy and God as my co-pilots. HA!
The first traffic circle, although they were all small, just about gave me a heart attack. But the next 4 were just fine. The strange thing about the car is I have a hard time with “all that car” on the left side of me rather than on the right side. While I’m driving on the left, I’m also reminding myself to keep the car to the right in the lane – that’s the hardest part for me so far. And I haven’t remembered the turn signal is backwards either – so I keep turning on the windshield wipers!
The drive was phenomenal. It took about 4 hours as I stopped twice. First stop was a little town called Orewa – I by passsed the toll road and decided to drive through the town instead. Stopped in a bakery for a little snack for the road, where I may have met a transvestite, but could be wrong. She was like a young gothic Ozzy Osbourne. Very nice – welcomed me to New Zealand and warned me about the roadways with it being Labour Day weekend.
I ended up with a freshly baked “stick” of bread that had fresh tomatoes, pineapples and cheese baked on top. One whole case was meat pies – but I didn’t think they would be easy to eat on the road. Next door was a little fruit stand so I popped in and bought a bag of 6 kiwi for NINETY-NINE cents! That’s crazy!
The road was a single lane in each direction with short passing lanes every so often. Usually the speed limit was 100 kilo or 62mph. There were so many cows and sheep that it was ridiculous. I can safely say I drove past, in total, thousands of cows and sheep. You’d come down the road and see a green rolling hill with white dots all over it and as you got closer – SHEEP! Unfortunately there wasn’t really a shoulder to stop on nor any place for you to stop for a photo once you got into the pasture areas. The tiny “shoulder” would drop into a ditch. I’m hoping on the return tomorrow morning I can snap some pictures.
Also passed a place called, “Sheep World” and they had pink sheep out there in the field. I’m thinking I need a photo of that for sure on the return.
I also saw a few horses, two startling HUGE goats with horns and something that could have been something like an alpaca.
Upon arriving into Paihia I was easily able to find the little hotel I’d booked, “The Swiss Chalet.” It was rated number 1 on TripAdvisor.com and the hosts, Maureen and Phil are delightful. Maureen reminds me ALOT of our friend, Julie Taylor, who was a HAL Shorex Manager and lives in England. Julie, if you’re reading this – I’ve found your twin! They also have the cutest little Yorkie, named Ellie, who is the local greeter and licker of legs.
My room has a little balcony that gets the sun, a kitchenette and full bathroom. It’s only 1 block from the beach!
I immediately headed out to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which Maureen said is a 30 minutes from the hotel – so I walked over, along the beach. It was probably a good mile and half each way. The water isn’t cold at all – very nice – cool temperature.
The treaty grounds were very interesting – going inside the meeting house, treaty house, viewing war canoes and then a short Maori performance (that part could have been skipped.) This is the site where a treaty was formed between the British Crown and the Maori. The treaty today is the cornerstone of NZ law. It was very interesting.
Last but not least, I went to dinner. The harbor area is small – lined with little cafes, takeaway restaurants and shops. I ended up going to a place called 35 Degrees – over the water.
They were packed, which I figured “this must be like the Hangar.” Of course, the town had a big celebration yesterday with a NZ rock band, which had just closed down – so that could explain all the people as well. I wandered in and they were able to set “the single” immediately which was nice. I enjoyed a lamb shank, as I figured I may not get another chance while here. (although it wasn’t the BEST I’ve had in my adventure.)
With all this being said, I am now getting ready to walk down to the ferry and go over to the little town of Russell. It was a 19th Century Maori village and was a popular stop for whalers, sailors and oh yeah, escaped convicts — Russell was known as “the hell-hole of the Pacific.” Yep, that sounds good — ! They have the Duke of Marlborough Hotel & Pub, which has the country’s oldest licensed pub. Will be stopping there today.
It’s about 62 degrees F here today, sunny with slight white overcast. Not raining though! Tomorrow I head back to Auckland to catch the 3:30 flight to Brisbane and hopefully Jeff will remember to pick me up! HA! Off I go!