Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday 29th & Saturday 30th January

We arrived in Wellington, the capital, at 4pm Friday. It seems Kiwis finish work early friday's and head to the bars which were absolutely buzzing. it is also because it is a mid summers evening.

Even the main citiy roads are lined with Agapanthus which grow wild.

They certainly have a good sense of humour with this colourful Library.

The city is modern, vibrant and spotlessly clean, with every nationality represented.

We took the cable car to the Botanical Gardens from which there are great views.

The gardens feature a superb rose garden and conservatory amongst many other local speciman plants and trees.

Amongst the many statues is this one by Henry Moore.

Downtown city.

One of the many harbours with the delightful houses behind.

This is Te Papa, New Zealands largest Museum.

A very pleasant way to spend a couple of days in the warm sunshine, especially as we have just seen the fresh snow falls in Europe.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday 28th January

On route to Taupo we stopped in Rotorua, or more specifically Whakarewarewa. An authentic village where the locals have used the geothermal resources for over 300 years to cook & bathe. The water reaches almost 100 degrees centigrade.

One of the locals apparantly welcoming us!

The mud baths are bubbling and gurgling! You would not want to fall in!

And so onto Lake Taupo. The largest lake in Australasia. We were in a motel overlooking the Lake and spent a really nice evening there setting off Friday morning for the Capital city of Wellington. It is abt 5 hours drive but one that is truly stunning taking in rolling hills, a volcano and snow topped mountains.
Wednesday 27th January

We spent the day with John & Lesley who spent a year living in our village, St Saturnin Les Apt, in 2008. They live in a quiet cul de sac , a few minutes from the Ocean in Tauranga. Like all Kiwi's we have met they have made us so welcome.
First stop, lunch at Kaimai Cheese, where they have a French man making cheese!

Then a walk through a rain forest, the tropical plant life here is something that has surprised us.

The weather and scenery are stunning.

'Avos' as they call them are everywhere, the Kiwi's even have them on toast for breakfast or in a smoothie! John & Lesley have ready supply in the garden.

John & Lesley out side there charming English style cottage built in the 20/30's.

One final photo before we head off to Rotorua and Lake Taupo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunday 24th January
How English does this look! Green rolling hills and cloudy skies, but warm!

We were driving towards the Coromandel Peninsula where we stopped for .........lunch!
My first Ribs in years!

Our first beach in New Zealand, Whangapoua beach , the clouds parted just in time!

From here we headed to Whitianga to stay overnight, an area with a lovely beach, harbour and excellent restaurants.

In the evening it was time to eat and enjoy some more of the wonderful New Zealand wines in the company of Sooty & jules and Chris & Britta who run a local bar and restaurant.

There are some stunning waterside homes being constructed although the market appears to have taken quite a hit during the recession.

On Monday after a fine breakfast at Chris & Britta's we headed to Hot Water beach.

This beautiful unspoilt beach is famous for the temperature of the springs under the sand where the water reaches 64 degrees centigrade. We can confirm it is seriuosly hot!

Superb conditions for surfing............

And great scenary, quite different to that we are used to in Provence.

And before we knew it , it was time for lunch, this is what you call a ploughmans!

Wise thoughts!

To help raise funds to pay for our eating (and drinking) we have taken up part time employement, Karen sets to work

Whilst I find work picking Kiwis!

Tuesday 26th January

But we finally get work together, skippering this rather smart boat!

Its a tough life but someone has to do it!

We took the boat which belongs to Sooty, to Mount Maunganui where we moored up for lunch.We walked to the top later in the afternoon where the views are amazing.I should add that we met Sooty & Jules in September 2008 when they stayed at our villa les Cypres. You never know where your holday might lead!

Not happy with just one bottle Karen!

Really beautiful scenary........

Time to head back................

And the ships captain, Floyd, a real character!

And so ends our first glimpses and impressions of the North Island. The weather has been kind, the scenary impressive and beautiful. Food has been of a high quality with good friendly service, not cheap, certainly on a par with Europe.
Tomorrow is another day...................
Saturday 23rd January 2010
After a ten hour flight plus 5 hour time difference we arrived in Auckland at noon to be met by Sooty & Jules.Within an hour of touch down we were setting the trend for the next few days by wine tasting and lunching at Villa Maria.

It is early summer so the vines are in full leaf with the grapes just growing. A contrast to the vines we left behind!

And so into the city with its modern buldings overlooking the harbour and the Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand at 328 metres.

We had dinner here which was excellent and a great way to see the city from the revolving restaurant on the top floor.

The views were fantastic despite the low clouds.

Jules and Karen, tucking into green Lip mussels.