New Zealand 2014

Day 09

March 23

  Today we had originally planned as a really long day out around highway 35 that runs the coastline through Te Kaha then back down to Gisborne, whose claim to fame is 'the first city to see the sun'. But tonight is our first 'farm' stay which is up a gravel road 'sight unseen' and they will have supper for us. So the thought of negotiating a gravel road unknown to us in the dark and getting in really late does not make a lot of sense. Sometimes on a trip you just have to change plans to deal with realities, so we craft a shorter route that should get us where we need to be at reasonable hour with some great roads and sights along the way. Mick and Teresa have done an outstanding job for breakfast.  
  There's fruit, yogurt, cereal, fresh smoothies and of course ...  
  pig meat and hen fruit with freshly baked croissants. I figure I should be able to travel a day's journey in the 'strength of this meat'.  
  After the scrumptious breakfast, they take us our for little walk around the place. As soon as Teresa is seen by the ducks, it's obvious who feeds them. All their little eyes are directed to her in urgent anticipation.  
  They also have a couple of sheep that loved to be petted.  
  But Chico and Pepper, since they are the proprietors after all, do not mingle with the common folks like us. They keep their distance so as not to be contaminated or touched by the peasants.  
  They take a great shot of us in front of the flags before we hit the road.  
  Mick and Teresa also have given us a couple 'must see places' along our way which we really appreciate. Once again I recognize that there is no substitute for local knowledge. We thank them for their many kindnesses and we're off for another day of splendid riding.  
  But after we pull out of their quiet lane, we get a quick shove back to reality of Rotorua.  
  And we get the reminder to drive on the left - or the 'proper' side of the road versus the 'right' side of the road ...  
  Our first stop is at WaioTapu visitor's center. It is the gateway to one of the most active thermal areas on the islands.  
  One of the attractions is a nearby geyser. I'm a bit mystified as I can't figure out if it's like Old Faithful and goes off at fairly predictable times or not.  
  But I soon have my answer, as the 'guide' dumps some sort of chemicals down the spout and it answers with a plume of smoke and steam.  
  There are also some hot springs of sort further down the road so we head that way. At the parking lot, I see a message on the back of a car that I can fully identify with ...  
  This is an interesting sight that reminds me a lot of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone but on a more 'liquid' scale.  
  The bubbling caldron reeks of sulfur and gurgles and bubbles as the heat meets the water.  
  The whole place has an eerie feel to it as the vapor rises and coats most everything nearby.  
  Not exactly a place I would want to spend a lot of time near, but very interesting to see nonetheless.  
  Soon we get out heads back out in the wind and come upon another construction zone. This one is a little longer than previous ones, but fortunately it is pretty well hard-packed which makes negotiating it a lot easier.  
  Out on the road, our 'route' is suddenly changed. There is a really bad wreck up head, and they have closed the highway. It's times like these that you suddenly become very thankful for a functioning GPS system. There is no option but to take a detour, so a detour it is.  
  But it just means we get to ride roads that we would have otherwise missed. When I see this stand of trees lined up perfectly with the fence rows, I have to assume someone planted them just so.  
  We also come across what looks like a nuclear power plant, but I know it is just a cooling tower. New Zealand does not operate nuclear power stations by choice.  
  Once again the sky does not look promising, but we roll on hoping we will not have to stop and 'bake in a bag'.  
  Again I see off in the distance another orderly planting of trees. It just makes such good sense to me and I wonder why folks don't often do the same back home.  
  We are traveling down the 'Thermal Explorer Highway since we left Rotorua, but ....  
  this is not exactly the 'thermal' we were expecting to see along the way!  

As we get back into the serious twisties, we see another reminder that we are in a 'High Crash Area'. Sometimes the signage makes you think your mother is going ahead of you and setting them up.

  Soon the weather catches up with us and it's time to break out the rain suits before we get soaked.  
  It actually gets quite cool as the rain comes in and the altitude increases. Cool enough that I put on my heated gear for the extra comfort.  
  As we approach Hawkes Bay, the fog settles in for a while and I am really glad I brought my heated gear.  
  Up ahead, there's been another accident but fortunately this time the road is not closed. It appears just to be where someone went off the road and not much damage done except to the vehicle.  
  Soon we are in the vineyard country of Hawkes Bay. The nets keep the birds from stealing the grapes when they reach peak ripeness.  
  But just as quickly, we leave the fertile green of the vineyards for the dusty dry of the valleys.  
  The next major stop on our ride today is Napier. It is a town with an interesting history and a popular tourist stop. In 1931, a major earthquake pretty much leveled the city. At the time, the Art Deco style of architecture was popular, so it was dominant style used to rebuild the city. Along with the passage of time, people figured out that this gave the city a unique look and steps were put in place to preserve it.  
  It is a lovely ocean side town, much of which now is located at sea level. This puts it in great danger should a tsunami ever come this way.  
  We find a nice little park, and decide to take a break and get our bearings.  
  We find there is a neat overlook above the city, so we set out to locate it.  
  As with most of New Zealand, if there is a hill in a city, there will be houses built on the side of the hill. The road to the top twists and turns between various houses that seem barely perched on the hillside.  
  From the top, we get a clear view of the Napier Port. It provides launching areas for ...  
  containers of humans to ...  
  containers of stuff. From here it appears to be a really bustling place.  
  There is also some lovely landscaping on top of the lookout in a park.  
  And a nice mosaic graces the facility also.  
  As we make our way back down the hill and through the city proper, we can see why Napier is the art deco capitol of New Zealand.  
  They have fully embraced their heritage and reflect even in their street signs.  
  Most of the center of the city has stood intact after the rebuild, so you do not see very many 'modern' buildings sticking their ugly heads into the view.  
  And the buildings all appear to be well maintained down every street we wander.  
  Even the old theater is still in good shape which is usually the first thing to fall into disrepair in a city.  
  And beside that, Napier boasts it's very own 'Possum World'. Now what more could a feller want besides that?  
  On our way out we make a quick fuel stop as we are uncertain if there will be fuel between here and the farm stay.  
  It's a lovely run down highway 50 to the Hawkes Bay Farm stay.  
  We encounter more vineyards on the way ...  
  some more lovely twisties ...  
  and another one lane bridge or two.  
  The sky again looks like we might be in for it, but we are getting close to the turn off so we just keep rolling.  
  At the turn off, we encounter a wee bit of gravel ... that has been freshly graded. But you just find a bare track and proceed cautiously.  
  And it is well worth the challenge as the views are incredible.  
  And what a view I have right out my bedroom window. Kay and Vince Galbraith are our hosts and they have arranged for us a tour of the nearby Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm. Jim, who is an overseer of the station, gives us the tour.

The history of the place is quite interesting -

Josiah Howard of Tikokino, Hawke’s Bay the original owner of Smedley Station, died on the 5th January 1919. He left his property to His Majesty the King without restriction, but in the confidence that the Government of New Zealand would use the property as a foundation or endowment for the purpose of agricultural education. On the 24th of October 1919, the Howard Estate Act was passed providing that Smedley Station be held by Public Trust in trust for the Crown, as a permanent endowment for the purposes of agricultural education. The first intake of 5 cadets arrived at Smedley Station in 1931 and over the years the number taken on annually has been increased. Now 11 cadets enter Smedley each year for the 2 year cadetship.


Their list of former Cadets is quite lengthy and impressive. Unlike so many 'educators' in the United States, they still consider farming a fine and honorable profession and concentrate on giving their cadets both classroom and hands on experience.


The complete 'station' covers 5,054 hectares which is almost 12,500 acres.

  The cadets over the years converted one of the older out buildings into a fitting museum of the station's history. The man in the picture on the left is Josiah Howard, who bequeathed the origin plot of land for this purpose.  
  They have the original 'phone' on display ...  
  in addition to many of the implements used to work the station.  
  This is the dining room where each cadet gets to spend time cooking, cleaning and serving their fellow workers when their time comes.  
  Their barracks are plain and typical for what you would expect on a working farm.  
  Jim takes us over the shearing sheds where the sheep that are raised on the station get their 'haircuts'. The clippers are powered by a single motor attached to the drive shaft ...  
  which turns the shafts that drive the clippers.  
  Each set of clippers vaguely resembled a barber's shears but with a different sort of 'teeth' on them to deal with the thicker sheep's wool.  
  These are the shearing stalls where the sheep are led into for their 'clipping'.  
  Jim comes back with us and we enjoy dinner with Leoni, his wife, Kay and Vince. And what a view you get from this dining room!  
  The food is mighty fine, most of it raised right here on the place.  
  We chat for a while, but we've got a pretty good journey in the morning. So we wish our gracious hosts a good night and find our way to our beds. This has been a day of fascinating variety to say the least. But it doesn't take me very long to find the place that I am seeking in earnest.