New Zealand 2014

Day 12

March 26

  Breakfast is right on time, tasty and plentiful. Nothing better to me that kicking your day off with a healthy dose of pork and poultry products.  
  And after the battle, there's nothing left but ashes ....  
  Today we head for Wellington, via a less than direct route. From there we will catch the ferry to South Island tomorrow. The girls are all packed up and ready to roll. We have a little longer ride today so we get out and about early.  
  Fortunately, there's not much traffic as we make our way out of town and ...  
  on the open road. One thing I have come to appreciate in New Zealand is how little traffic there is when you get away from the major cities. It just adds more joy to the ride as you don't have to be concerned about mobile phone booths trying to ruin your day.  
  We will be playing hide and seek with the ocean for a while until we make a major turn inward to head for another notable road on the North Island.  
  As I pass this lovely 'flower' hedge, I have to get a shot. Unfortunately, the picture does not do it justice.  
  Once again far across the pasture land, we see the ocean, our old friend.  
  As I get closer to this truck, it almost looks like it is snowing.Then I realize it is - sort of - but it's wool and not snow.  
  Soon we come to a lovely roundabout to negotiate which  
  brings us to the town of Manaia - 'the Bread Capital'. It also has a statue of George, a Jack Russell terrier that died protecting 5 local children from an attack by two pit bulls.  
  And it is again comforting to know we can always count on McDonalds and KFC to be in the near vicinity so we can at least stave off starvation if need be.  
  Coming into the town of Patea, we encounter a little road construction but it does not slow us down much.  
  As we turn further inland, we pass many cornfields such as these.  
  I'm still fascinated when I see fence rows like these all properly trimmed and such.  
  These remind me a bit of some of the mesas out in the Southwest United States except these are green and those are brown.  
  We get one last look at the ocean as we are now headed inland.  
  In New Zealand, they have a variety of a tree that sort of resembles a spruce. It has an amazing uniformity that makes you think that someone must be trimming them.  
  We must certainly be in the center of the corn growing area as we pass more cornfields. But it is kind of a strange view to be in the cornfields and then a little further ...  
  to be in an area that could pass for highway down in Miami.  
  We've made good time so far, but we're ready for a hydraulic break and a refueling of the mechanical and human beasts.  
  Once we're back on the road, we come into what I would call back home the 'high desert'.  
  It's mighty brown and dry and makes me glad we got plenty to drink at the last stop.  
  Then we arrive at the town of Bulls. You have to admire a town with a sense of humor. It indeed is 'town like no udder'...  
  and here's what it looks like - not a bull to be seen, not even a cow.  
  Then it's back out into the dry fields again.  
  As we pass through Palmerston North, we see this rather large cemetery right on the main drag.  
  I am glad as we get closer to the mountains, things are starting to green up a bit.  
  Soon we passing through the Manawato Gorge, an unusual geographic feature. It is technically a 'water gap' that runs 'directly through the surrounding ranges from one side to the other'. And it happens be a wonderful road to go along with the wonderful scenery.  
  Highway 3 through the gorge was originally completed in 1872.  
  It has frequently been closed in years pass due to landslides but much work has been done to deal with this problem. It's a great ride with lots of lazy sweepers and good pavement that meanders alongside the Manawatu River.  
  It's nice to be back in 'green' instead of the brown. I don't feel near as thirsty when it's green, although I realize it's all in my head.  
  But it's time for break anyway so I get some 'moo juice' just for good measure. Now about all I drink is water, milk or a little fruit or vegetable juice. I put aside soft drinks, coffee and tea in July 2011 on a trip to Canada when I couldn't get good iced tea. I also figured all that artificial sweetening I was using couldn't be good for me so I made the switch. But I do splurge every now and then and have a cup of Hot Chocolate.  
  Soon we pass another one of those fascinating 'living fences'. I wish I could get them to grow like that across the front of the Holler. It provides great privacy and windbreaks in a self-sustaining package.  
  We soon see the mountains we will be climbing across in the next few miles.  
  As we pass through Carterton, we are within striking distance of our destination of Wellington.  
  But highway 2 still has some delightful twists and turns to offer us on our way.  
  This road is one of the reasons that we chose to come inland instead of hugging the coast from New Plymouth to Wellington.  
  And we are not disappointed by our choice by any means.  
  The road hugs the side of the mountain, providing plenty of riding challenges and beautiful views...  
  and going down is as much fun as coming up.  
  Too soon we are back to the flatlands and nearing the coast and Wellington.  
  Wellington is a nice city located on the southern tip of the Northern Island with a lovely harbor.  
  It's a quick trip through a tunnel ...  
  then we arrive at our hotel in the heart of Wellington. The path to the room reminds me a little bit of the the tunnel we just passed through.  
  The room is really nice and well appointed though the view is a little lacking. But we came to spend the night not our lives here so this will work out just fine.  
  And it has enclosed parking which is really nice when you are in a large city and are more subject to those folks who believe in using the five finger discount method of procurement.  
  The hotel also has a nice restaurant inside so we decide to take advantage of it. Since we are in prime lamb country, I order the Lamb Shank special.  
  Bo Peep, Mary and their followers might be disappointed in me, but I am not disappointed in the meal. The lamb is moist and tender and somehow evaporates off the plate before me - right down to the bone. Must be something in the ocean air I guess.  
  And after a meal like that, a feller always needs just a little sweetening to finish it off properly.  
  And finish it off I do with a flourish. I didn't figure the leaves were too edible, so I leave them be.  
  We've got an early ferry to catch in the morning to get to the South Island. So it's off to an early bedtime that is made simple as the skin over my stomach has stretched and pulled the skin down over my eyes.