At last, some photos and words from our trip.
DH and I started our trip in Auckland, the largest city in NZ. The city is a lovely blend of old
We walked through the Auckland Domain and visited the Winter Garden, a lovely small conservatory.
Our second day in Auckland, we took a short ferry ride to the island of Rangitoto. Rangitoto formed as the result of a volcanic eruption 600 years and today is maintained as a preserve, with permanent residents. There is a trail that goes to the crater; on the way up I encountered my first black-stemmed tree ferns.
The view from the top was wonderful.
The next day we headed south to the town of Waitomo, where we spent the night at the Hobbit Hotel.
We drove a short distance to the Ruakiri Scenic Reserve and hiked the trail there. The hike was supposed to take about 90 minutes, but someone kept stopping to take photos.
When we finished there, we hopped in the car and drove about thirty minutes down the road to another reserve and a short trail to a stunning waterfall.
The countryside along the road was quite beautiful, but there was no spot to pull off the road and take photos. You'll have to take my word for it.
The next morning we headed to the Hawke's Bay area on the east coast, which is one of the wine growing areas. We stayed at a nice B&B in Napier and had dinner the first evening at a Turkish restaurant - yummy lamb kebabs! In the morning, we took a walking tour of Napier's Art Deco district. Much of the town was destroyed in and earthquake in 1932, so a large number of the buildings were rebuilt in the deco style. Most of those photos are on the camera that's still in NZ, so you'll have to be patient!
In the afternoon, we took a wine tour that visited four different wineries. The man who did the tour asked everyone what type of wines we liked and structured the tour accordingly. My favorite was this small husband and wife operation called Unison. The wife did the tasting for us and talked in detail about all aspects of their business. The wine was quite good also.
Since it was the end of summer there, the grapes were almost ready for harvest.
One of my houseplants that I've been quite proud of is a Norfolk Island Pine that I bought for $1 at a rummage sale when it was about 8 inches tall. It's now over four feet tall and lovely, but I got to see the big brothers and sisters in Napier and I will stop bragging about the size of my pine.
I think I'll stop for now so this thread has a chance of loading! I'll pick up tomorrow with the story of our drive from Napier to Rotorua on one of the worst roads in all of NZ!